Reviews of the various academic fields have shown that informed and thoughtful interventions can interrupt or at least slow down the process of the aging of firms.Seven interventions seem particularly relevant:
1. Cultivating the firm’s members’ desire to make a difference. The first intervention is to leverage the desire of human beings to contribute to something that matters and to make a difference in life. It is to define the purpose of the firm as being to make a difference to people, by developing new products and services that make the life of their customers safer, healthier, richer, better, more valuable.
2. Building a team of learners at the top. It is essential to have teams made up of people with diverse mental models, people with a strong belief in their own self-efficacy and people whose purpose is aligned with that of the firm, staffed in positions that are important for the company in adapting to changes in its environment.
3. Framing the vision and strategy positively.Members of an organization are more likely to engage in problem-solving and behavioral change that happens in a positively loaded emotional context. A positively framed direction — engaging visions of the future and convincing strategies to get there — appealing to positive emotions, helps nudge people into continuous problem-solving and learning, and makes firms adaptive.
4. Building on self-managed performance cells.The fourth intervention is building on self-managed performance cells, autonomous organizational units that leverage the goal orientation, drive to succeed and creativity of human beings. Self-managed performance cells have three characteristics: They are guided by performance metrics, they have the ability to organize themselves, and they have periodic sessions for learning and joint problem solving.
5. Promoting the firm’s members’ drive to perform and grow. The fifth intervention is to go beyond pay for performance and monetary incentives to motivate employees. The fifth intervention wants to recognize the performance of the firm members, to build their self-confidence, to foster their passion to achieve ambitious goals and to help them to grow their abilities.
6. Investing in capabilities to quickly develop new assets and skills. Firms may use four approaches to fast-forwarding the development of assets and skills: It can fast-build assets and skills; it can borrow capabilities; it can buy capabilities; or it can experiment.
7. Cultivating a culture that fosters execution and promotes challenge. Organizational culture can be leveraged to complement the organization’s formal structure by reducing the need for dense hierarchies and processes. Culture can help guide the daily activities of employees in the absence of written rules or policies. It enables greater decentralization, providing general guidance, but leaving the specific how up to the individual, allowing more space for adaptation at the front line.