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Harv Bus Rev. 2008 Jan;86(1):43-52, 136.

Transforming giants.

Author information

1
Harvard Business School, Boston, USA. rkanter@hbs.edu

Abstract

Large corporations have long been seen as lumbering, inflexible, bureaucratic--and clueless about global developments. But recently some multinationals seem to be transforming themselves: They're engaging employees, moving quickly, and introducing innovations that show true connection with the world. Harvard Business School's Kanter ventured with a research team inside a dozen global giants--including IBM, Procter & Gamble, Omron, CEMEX, Cisco, and Banco Real--to discover what has been driving the change. After conducting more than 350 interviews on five continents, she and her colleagues came away with a strong sense that we are witnessing the dawn of a new model of corporate power: The coordination of actions and decisions on the front lines now appears to stem from widely shared values and a sturdy platform of common processes and technology, not from top-down decrees. In particular, the values that engage the passions of far-flung workforces stress openness, inclusion, and making the world a better place. Through this shift in what might be called their guidance systems, the companies have become as creative and nimble as much smaller ones, even while taking on social and environmental challenges of a scale that only large enterprises could attempt. IBM, for instance, has created a nonprofit partnership, World Community Grid, through which any organization or individual can donate unused computing power to research projects and see what is being done with the donation in real time. IBM has gained an inspiring showcase for its new technology, helped business partners connect with the company in a positive way, and offered individuals all over the globe the chance to contribute to something big.

PMID:
18271317
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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