Command and Control versus Sense and Respond: A New Paradigm for Innovation?


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Although innovation is becoming more of a management discipline than an act of creativity, corporate innovation teams still have to deal with a fairly high level of chaos and complexity.

For this, a command and control approach has been widely used in the last couple of decades, but the open innovation movement and the fast pace of change, which has really taken hold in the business world today, force corporate innovation teams to look into different approaches and paradigms.

This could be a “sense and respond” paradigm. I am not really sure how to define this and I do not really know how this should play out, but I found this to be intriguing enough to look further into it.

Here you get some of the articles that I found while looking into this. Perhaps this can also bring you some inspiration!

The Sense-and-Respond Enterprise:

This older article reveals five competencies that an adaptive enterprise is required to have in order for it to be considered truly a sense-and-respond business model. They are: 1) knowing earlier, 2) managing-by-wire, 3) designing a business as a system, 4) dispatching capabilities from the customer request back (e.g., coordination), and 5) context-giving leadership.

Sense and Respond Business Strategies:

This is a blog post where I like this snippet: “To act in an intelligent manner, you have to be able to “sense” what’s happening and then “respond” accordingly. In the middle, your organization has to be able to “reason.”

Sense and Respond as a Business Concept (Wikipedia):

A business organization is a human social system. It differs from the complex adaptive systems found in nature in a fundamental way: the agents in it can and do make conscious decisions to establish purpose, bounds, structure, governance mechanisms—and they can decide whether or not to accept the purpose, or follow the rules or act within the structure.

Sense and Respond: Designing and Governing Adaptive Organizations:

This is a website dedicated to the concept. It does not seem to be updated, but it still have some interesting resources.

It could also be relevant to mix in the ideas of Nilofer Merchant here. Check out this post: Rules for the Social Era

Thanks to Julien Pascual for pointing me into this direction through a conversation on LinkedIn!


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