Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

Super-Flexibility: A Business Leaderís Toolkit In Dynamic Environments

Homa Bahrami discusses her book and research

Published: Jan 27, 2011 01:58:58 PM IST
Updated: Feb 17, 2011 03:03:02 PM IST

How can managers and executives in knowledge-based industries maximize their effectiveness in a dynamic world? What are the tools they need when they operate in turbulent ecosystems with rapid innovation cycles?

The answers are in a new book called Super–Flexibility for Knowledge Enterprises: A Toolkit for Dynamic Adaptation (Springer, June 2010), by Homa Bahrami, Senior Lecturer, University of California, Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, and Stuart Evans, Distinguished Professor, Carnegie Mellon University Silicon Valley. Bahrami and Evans give business leaders the tools they need to become super-flexible, so they can diagnose problems as they come up and respond with rapid action as new developments unfold.

The authors have spent the past 25 years studying the Silicon Valley’s dynamic ecosystem. Their new book is a cross-functional general management guide that speaks to a wide audience: academics, educators, and entrepreneurs. “We explore theory and look at conceptual foundations of super-flexibility but present frameworks and examples that apply to everyday situations,” Bahrami says.

The authors coined the term “super-flexibility” to describe the ability to deploy dual approaches to a given challenge. Bahrami explains, “We define super-flexibility as a constant balancing act between the ability to withstand turbulence and the ability to transform and adapt to it.” For example, Apple has reinvented itself from a personal computer company to a consumer electronics & mobile entity, but its core mission of focusing on human-machine interface and making technology intuitive and easy-to-use has stayed the same.

The research focuses on five cross-disciplinary themes for operating in dynamic settings: developing business strategies, execution and implementation, innovation and cross-pollination, organizational design & effectiveness, and how to engage and lead knowledge workers.

Read more about "super-flexibility" in the European Business Review.

Part I Interview
Part II Interview

[This article has been reproduced with permission from Haas Research, published by the University of California, Berkeley's Haas School of Business]