Ambidextrous organization: Ambidexterity Inc.

Ambidextrous organization: summary

The most accepted definition of ambidexterity is a balance between explorations and exploitation; organizations capable of exploiting their existing competencies while simultaneously exploring new opportunities. James March refers to this as the exploration of new possibilities and the exploitation of old certainties. Exploitation includes such things as choice, refinement, production, selection, execution efficiency and implementation.

While exploration encompasses knowledge creation and analysis of future opportunities, organisations that engage in exploration to the exclusion of exploitation are likely to find that they suffer the costs of experimentation, but without gaining many of its benefits. These companies exhibit too many undeveloped new ideas and often too little distinctive competence.

A well-known example of too much emphasis on exploration is Ericsson, the telecom giant that led the development in the last century of the global system for mobile communications. At its peak, its R&D organization employed 30,000 people in 100 technology centres and with considerable duplication of work. Despite its strong focus on exploration, the company’s results went into steep decline. Ericsson laid off around 60,000 employees and closed most of its technology centres to put focus back on exploitation in order to return its businesses to profitability. Conversely, organizations that engage in exploitation to the exclusion of exploration are likely to find themselves trapped in stable equilibrium; going nowhere fast, but efficiently. Maintaining an appropriate balance between exploration and exploitation is a primary factor in the prosperity of any corporate system.

Ambidextrous organization

The paper looks at Ambidexterity in an organization, provides real-time examples of leading global businesses and introduces the six pillars required to build organizational Ambidexterity.

Ambidexterity in an organisation

Ambidexterity in an organisation

Understanding an ambidextrous organisation is one thing, making it a reality is another.

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About the author

Antonio Nieto-Rodriguez is a professor of strategic change and project management at several business schools (Duke CE, Instituto de Empresa, Solvay, Vlerick). He is also an author of the book The Focused Organization, have been featured in several magazines, including Singapore Management Institute, Business Strategy Review and The Economist.

Antonio loves to speak to large audiences – he is a regular keynote speaker at international events, where he speaks on strategic transformation and focus. In the past months he has been keynote speaker in conferences with thoughleaders Bob Kaplan, Rita McGrath, as well as politicians Didier Reynders and Donald Tusk, President of the European Council.

Antonio specializes in running workshops with senior executives to increase their focus and improve their strategy execution dexterity. He has an MBA from London Business School and his education spanned Germany, Mexico, Italy, USA, Spain and the UK.

He is currently a Director Head of PMO at GlaxoSmithKline Vaccines.

Previously he worked in the banking sector, for BNP Paribas Fortis, where he implemented Project Portfolio Management practices to help the Executive Committee select, prioritize and execute 150+ projects and a budget of +100m euro yearly. Prior to that he was a Head of Post Merger Integration, leading the largest takeover in the financial service history: the acquisition of ABN AMRO.