This is my third (and last) post on this topic, regarding why Go-To-Market strategies may not be effective enough if not coupled with good management techniques, as well as with good managers.
As usual, these are my personal thoughts, and do not reflect in any possible way my Company's view.
Back to the topic I was referring to, it may be worth considering the code-named "Agility" initiative that Microsoft piloted in late 2007. I believe this was a genuine attempt to cope with rapidly changing market conditions by setting appropriate processes and delegations frameworks.
At that time, by implementing Agility, each Country General Manager was empowered to dynamically establish trade-offs across the different products' lines of business, in terms of both HC allocation and funds. Not only, he/she was also authorized to further accelerate the investments in a given geographic area, if the business had performed better that budgeted in a given quarter.
The benefits of such an approach are clear when dealing with volatile markets, but also when facing fast growing economies. This initiative actually enabled the Country General Managers to bypass the rigidity of a budget which may had been predefined several months before, under completely different conditions.
Also, it gave the CGM the ability to quickly adapt to the local markets, by testing new ideas without having to wait for complex Corporate approvals, if not for a new yearly budget cycle.
I earlier commented about the need for speed, which should be different for the different businesses inside a given Company, especially based on their specific market share targets.
Hardware and Software, for example, may require different approaches, due to the very nature and linearity of these businesses. The former is slower in a sense, but continuous, as the Hardware requires continuous orders' flow to feed the manufacturing plants, and ensure orders' delivery in a timely fashion. As a result, speed and local empowerment may help to support a constant flow, especially if targeting higher market share.
On the other hand, the Software business is typically skewed towards the end of the quarter: the classic Software inflow linearity in a given quarter is 10-20-70 as negotiations typically end towards the very end of the quarter, probably also because it is common knowledge that this won't impact their revenue recognition. In this case, stronger centralized controls could be instrumental in ensuring consistent execution and protecting profitability, without necessarily hurting the ability to win in the marketplace.
In all of the above, either army or business, it is clear the key role played by the Information Technology, especially in enabling the information sharing.
Similar to picking the right model, it is also critical that the most suitable talents get selected. Any executive's recruitment should actually take into account the characteristics of the specific business model, and match them with the right candidate.
Generally speaking, a smart and bright person will be a much better match to a position where fast decision making be required, while a very structured manager will do better wherever the planning activities are predominant for the success of a given business.
As traditional hierarchies get supplanted by networked, or "social" organizations, leadership will become less a function of "where you sit," than of "what you can do." Any company that strives to build a leadership advantage will need an organizational model that gives everyone the chance to lead if they're capable; and a talent development model that helps everyone to become capable.
Leadership doesn't apply only to the top managers in a Company: each one of the employees is called to exercise a certain degree of leadership at his own level.
Still, most organizations have a long way to go in order to dramatically enlarge their leadership capacity, and equip most/all of their people to lead without formal authority.