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Making Sense of Ambidexterity

10 Key Real World Enabling Factors

Humantific CoFounder GK VanPatter has published another post in his popular ongoing “Making Sense Series”.

“We are delighted to be updating our Complexity Navigation Workbook to include more ambidexterity related materials.

Graduates of Humantific Academy programs will know that central to how we do what we do is the practical operationalizing of ambidexterity in organizational contexts.

Since our founding in 2002 we have been working with organizational leaders seeking to operationalize what is often referred to from a business perspective as dual engine strategy, i.e.: ambidexteritystrategy*[1]. Constant change in the marketplace often translates into the need for business leaders and their organizations to simultaneously create new businesses while optimizing existing offerings.*[2] On the surface those might seem like wildly opposing, impossible to orchestrate dynamics.

More than a decade into working with organizational leaders enabling ambidexterity in teams and organizations we have learned many lessons that we share in our Complexity Navigation skill-building program.

The dynamics of ambidexterity have been described in many different ways, in numerous knowledge communities and across multiple business cycles spanning a 60+ year time period.

The historical literature on the subject of ambidexterity ranges from abstract theorizing to concrete and practical, from clear to extremely confused, from naïve to realistic. By 2016 hundreds of papers and posts exist on the subject from multiple vantage points that include business administration, organizational development, organizational change-making, applied creativity, thinking dynamics, etc. Clearly some of the literature is more useful to change driving organizational leaders than others. In the business community one of the most high profile articles appeared in Harvard Business Review written by Charles O’Reilly & Michael Tushman in 2004 entitled: The Ambidextrous Organization. Other publications such as the 2010 IBM CEO Study have helped to bring awareness in the business community regarding the shift underway by many organizational leaders.

“CEOs are realizing they must think in terms of increasing overall operating dexterity. To capitalize on complexity CEOs:

Embody Creative Leadership  Reinvent Customer Relationships  Build Operating Dexterity” 

IBM Institute for Business Value Capitalizing on Complexity: Insights From The 2010 Global CEO Study

“The key to ambidexterity is the ability of the organization to sense and seize new opportunities through simultaneous exploration and exploitation…In uncertain environments, organizational ambidexterity appears to be positively associated with increased firm innovation, better financial performance and higher survival rates.”

Charles O’Reilly & Michael Tushman Organizational Ambidexterity: Past, Present and Future 2013

Read the entire post here on LinkedIn.


Complexity Navigation Workbook: To date the workbook has been made available only to participants of our Complexity Navigation Program which combines skill-building in Strategic CoCreation, Design Research and Visual Sensemaking. Since many requests have been received externally we will be making ta version of the workbook available publically in 2016. If you would like to be notified of this and or other Humantific publications upcoming this year please send us an email: kickitup (at) Humantific (dot) com.

Innovation Methods Mapping Workbook: / DeMystifying 80 Years of Innovation Methods Design: For those wondering whatever happened to our Innovation Methods Mapping book that appeared in prototype form only we decided to add many additional process models so that has taken some time for us to accomplish in our busy practice. Innovation Methods Mapping will be appearing soon. For those who missed it here is the intro prototype virtual book.

You can follow Humantific on Facebook where we often post additional materials such as the Humantific Innovation Quotes Collection.


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