Last week I had the privilege of talking to Andrew Campbell from Ashridge Business School in the UK. Andrew is well known for his writing, teaching and consulting on strategy and organization.
The key principles he developed (together with Michael Goold) on the role of the corporate centre, and particularly the concept of “corporate parenting advantage”, have become part of the standard methodology used by many consulting firms.
Andrew is currently teaching a course at Ashridge business school intended for internal consultants, HR partners, and managers involved in organization design projects. He also offers a one-day workshop on matrix organizations.
We focused on three main topics in the interview:
- Why collaboration is often difficult to achieve inside organizations – and how it can be made simpler
- When managers at corporate headquarters should intervene to help achieve synergies between business units – and when they should stay away
- Why avoiding negative synergy may be more important than trying to achieve positive synergies
Andrew says that organization design is really about structuring relationships between people. But unlike some business gurus he does not exhort managers to increase the amount of collaboration between business units. Instead he says that the goal – in some situations – should be to design one’s way out of collaboration, in order to establish a more efficient working relationship.
I think you will find Andrew’s views both relevant and thought-provoking.
You can listen to the interview by using the audio player below (duration: 27 minutes):
P.S. Once in the interview, Andrew refers to the “resource based view”, if you are not familiar with this term, this has for the last 10-15 years been a popular theory among management scholars studying business strategy. It’s basically about looking inside the company for competitive advantage by considering the company’s unique competencies and resources. You can read more about it here.