Project Management

Too Efficient to Thrive?

Kathleen Ryan O'Connor

By focusing exclusively on efficiency, organizations have lost their ability to innovate, says business school dean, author and entrepreneur Jim Dewald. They need to invest in discovering opportunities, value transparency, and support managers who can balance the tension between individual initiative and structural controls.

Increasing efficiency may seem like the most effective way to grow an organization's bottom line, but according to Canadian business school dean and former CEO and entrepreneur Jim Dewald, this focus on efficiency is weakening businesses and threatening their ultimate survival.  

By expending so much effort on streamlining, firms have lost their ability to innovate, says Dewald, dean of the Haskayne School of Business at the University of Calgary and author of the forthcoming book, “Achieving Longevity: How Great Firms Prosper Through Entrepreneurial Thinking.” (University of Toronto Press, July 2016). Dewald advises organizations to:

  • Establish a clear narrative of entrepreneurial success within the organization. Everyone should understand, and see, that with hard work and great ideas you can rise to the top.
  • Value transparency.
  • Show a specific idea generation path, such as “bricolage” — best described as “making do with what one has to meet a customer need.”
  • Invest in discovering …

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