Time to work in new ways?

Could the downturn be good for collaborative innovation?

 It’s not uncommon to hear experts suggest that recessions are good for innovation — in part because hard times encourage new thinking. John Chambers, Cisco’s chair and CEO, goes even further. Earlier this month, in a Wall Street Journal column, he described  the current economic situation as “the biggest opportunity of our lifetime.” (Wall Street Journal subscription required to access full article.)

Why?  Not surprisingly, Chambers found the idea of a U.S. government stimulus package that includes spending targeted for broadband infrastructure promising. But more generally, Chambers thinks the economic crisis could accelerate the trend away from traditional top-down management and toward collaborative innovation, enabled by technology.  Wrote Chambers:

“We now have the opportunity to re-invent the way we manage companies and get work done…To be successful in a 24/7 global world, managers must give up on the idea that all decision-making must run through them and must discard the silo approach to developing and executing on strategy.”