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Potent mix of experience and new voices good for business growth

By Peter Opondo | April 21st 2021

Standard Group Plc CEO Orlando Lyomu wondered recently during an all-hands meeting whether veteran managers could generate fresh, new ideas required to drive the organisation’s ambitious business transformation plan.

In a disrupted, chaotic business environment where agility may be more important than stability, are long-serving managers an asset or liability? What should be given priority, experience or imagination?

Business consultants Peter Skarzynski and Rowan Gibson in their book Innovation to the Core, observed that “in many firms when executives retreat to discuss strategy and innovation, often the people who get a seat at the table are the old guard, not the vanguard. Yet the vanguard are essential to new thinking.”

“If you want to generate breakthrough thinking and game changing innovations…you need to create a potent mix of experience, diversity, energy, youth and hustle,” they concluded.

Three key internal constituencies comprise vanguards: young people – or at least those with youthful perspectives; newcomers to the organisation, preferably those from other industries who bring different and new experiences; and employees from the geographic periphery of the organisation, especially those outside the corporate headquarters.

You cannot do without experienced, stable hands on the deck but for disruptive ideas to permeate through an organisation, a structure to embed the voices of the vanguard is a must.


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