11/2019 – Ambidextrous management

It has been a month since my last article. I found it awkward to type with my left fingers as my right arm is in a sling after surgery to reattach a torn tendon on my right shoulder. The culprit was a bone spur with a sharp edge probably formed from years of a bad golf swing which I now blame for my poor golf scores.

Having been a righ-handed person all my life, I found it difficult to adapt to doing normal chores with my left hand, from washing my hair to handling toilet paper to putting on clothes. I felt a tinge of regret for ignoring the usefulness of my left hand all these years, using it only when it was needed when I had to coordinate with two hands.

Just as in management, I tend to rely on my right hand man/woman in different departments all the time. When the right-handed person leaves, there is a big void as the left handed assistants, as in most cases, have not been exposed or trained to take over that role. Continuity of effective management is thus impaired and momentum lost while the replacement is brought up to speed.

Rather than being totally dependent on right hands or left hands, the modern CEO should be ambidextrous in nature, able to use both right and left hands equally well. According to my friend T.K. who is doing a thesis on ambidextrous management, he feels that ambidextrous CEOs are able to manage turbulence and disruptions in their business much better than one-handed CEOs.

To prove his point, T.K. sent me a link to an article on Ambidextrous Leadership by Deloitte which I thought was worth discussing. Ambidexterity is the ability to exploit present conditions by optimising the current business model’s operations while exploring opportunities to redefine that business model by taking pioneering risks. In short, taking risks on creating new values (higher margins business) while simultaneously squeezing out operational inefficiencies (higher margins, lower costs) in current business model.

When a business executes well on both fronts, it is positioned to experience rapid and sustained enterprise growth. This ambidextrous CEO and his company is now “undisruptable”. However, the three principles of ambidexterity must be adhered to before the company is undisruptible.

Firstly the CEO’s personal mindset must be ambidextrous, which must be translated into an expansive vision for action and communicated broadly throughout the organisation.

Secondly, enlist the C-suites (right-hand men and women) to become exploiters and explorers – those who seek order and optimisation and those who seek new innovative business ideas within their business units.

Thirdly, ambidexterity must be embedded in a company”s very design and infused into every team, group and division. Structural ambidexterity – where individual units operate in relative isolation with each group fulfilling a specific role in exploring and exploitation endeavors. Or contextual ambidexterity – an approach in which optimisation and exploration exists within every individual team, from the C-suite to the production line.

Are you an ambidextrous CEO?

On exploration, do you hold yourself and others accountable for novel ideas by thinking “outside the box” while fully committed to improve quality and lower costs? Do you and your team regularly and systematically search for and approach new clients in new markets, whether or not your current product or service fits their needs? Do you commercialise products and services that are new to your company?

On exploitation, do you introduce improvements to existing products and services as you better understand your customer’s needs? Do you find ways to increase economies of scale in existing markets and constantly seek ways to lower the cost of internal processes?

The key is in striking a critical balance between exploration and exploitation.

How then do we describe the management style of our Cabinet Ministers in the current and past government? Are they authoritarian, weak, ambiguous, collaborative or even clueless?

While past leaders were caught with one hand in the till, current leaders were caught in camera with one man in the buff. Both past and present leaders have their stand-up comedians caught with bad scripts and poor delivery. There were/are a few good men but their hands are tied to the back with constipated mouth delivering nothing.

Rather than being ambidextrous in nature, bisexuality crisis management go against the nature. Gutter politics is the name of the game, no gentlemen can be found and named.

Right hands fight with left hands, very soon left with no hands.

Umno and PAS rubbing their hands with glee, PKR implode amidst the melee.

Only Tun M stand tall and mighty, Bersatu will collect more MPs.

Management style still in the eighties, Malaysia will still be healthy.

You need both hands for your prayers, you need only one right hand man to create problems for your enemies. Am ambidextrous political leader who can use both hands will be deadly and effective.

Hands up for those who are disappointed with the quality of leadership in this country. One hand for very, two hands for totally. As I am still unable to raise my right hand, I will just raise a finger from each hand.

Published: https://www.thestar.com.my/business/business-news/2019/06/15/ambidextrous-management/

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