01 Dec 1997


New Releases

by Robert Binstock

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Technology Integration

by Marco Iansiti
(Harvard Business School Press)

In the old days, coping with technological change was simple: you kept track of developments, tried to decide if they had legs, and implemented them when the market seemed ready. New technology fed into the product line in an orderly and linear way.

In his new book, Technology Integration: Making Critical Choices in a Dynamic World, HBS associate professor Marco Iansiti presents a detailed analysis of what has become a vital challenge in every cutting-edge industry: selecting from myriad emerging technologies that will enable a company to assemble seamless and reliable real-world products that can thrive in a demanding marketplace. Iansiti's work provides a blueprint for the radical restructuring of corporate research and product development.

The ability to generate technology in the laboratory and develop it for practical application is no longer enough, Iansiti asserts. Firms must take control of the technology integration process from the very beginning, matching new technological possibilities to the appropriate applications in order to create products that make both business and technical sense. "Unless you have a targeted process that accumulates knowledge before the critical decisions need to be made," writes Iansiti, "you're going to run into all sorts of problems." Technology Integration provides an intensive guided tour that familiarizes the reader with this process at every level and stage.

Iansiti spent eight years studying more than a hundred development projects in four computing-related industries - particularly turbulent and complex environments in which making the right technology choices is essential for success. In comparing the effective and not-so-effective processes he observed, he has distilled the critical elements for success.

Iansiti points out that lessons drawn from the computer industry have broad applications. "This book offers examples that people in other environments can use and adapt to their own needs," he says. "It was exciting to see and document that organizations as large as IBM and Texas Instruments could acknowledge the need for new processes. People are interested in this work because it provides models for R&D as well examples of change." Technology Integration is required reading for those whose businesses develop products from new technologies.

The Individualized Corporation

by Sumantra Ghoshal and Christopher A. Bartlett
(HarperBusiness)

In an economy of explosive global growth and rapid technological advancement, traditional corporate organizations and management techniques have become outmoded. Yet while many companies have responded to these changes with structural adaptations, few have achieved the much more fundamental organizational and managerial transformation required to succeed in this new environment. In their latest book, The Individualized Corporation: A Fundamentally New Approach to Management, Christopher A. Bartlett, MBA Class of 1966 Professor of Business Administration, and London Business School professor Sumantra Ghoshal describe an emerging kind of corporate form and management philosophy that is likely to serve as the paradigm for the next century.

In their groundbreaking analysis, the authors identify three core capabilities that distinguish what they call "the individualized corporation": the ability to inspire individual creativity and initiative; the ability to link pockets of expertise and entrepreneurial activity to embed learning within the organization; and the ability to continually renew the organization and its products. This new individualized corporation, they observe, requires a fundamentally different management approach that rejects the traditional "organization man" model in which employees are considered undifferentiated cogs in a machine. They argue that in an environment in which knowledge has replaced capital as the critical strategic resource, the core responsibility of management must now focus on attracting, developing, and retaining exceptional people and on creating an environment in which they are energized, motivated, and, above all, able to develop to be the best they can be.

Bartlett and Ghoshal profile several organizations that have successfully adopted this new approach, from large industrial giants such as 3M and Asea Brown Boveri, to newer high-tech firms such as Intel and Canon, to service-based organizations such as McKinsey and ISS. Describing how these entities transformed themselves by shifting from the traditional management doctrine based on strategy, structure, and systems, and embracing a new philosophy emphasizing purpose, process, and people, the authors draw valuable lessons for all managers who want to assure the vitality and success of their own companies in the coming years. Finally, Bartlett and Ghoshal consider the social role of corporations, arguing that their new paradigm is the best model for helping such organizations contribute to society.

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