Ambidexterity in Management
The traditional definition of ambidexterity is someone who has the ability to use both hands with the same amount of dexterity. Someone that has the ability to use both of their hands to accomplish daily tasks would seem to have an advantage over someone that could not. If given the choice, you would likely choose to be ambidextrous if you are not already.
The same can be said about management. Have you ever tried a signature with your non-dominant hand? Luckily, it is easier to learn to be an ambidextrous manager than it is to learn how to write with both hands. Ambidexterity, as it relates to management, is defined as the ability to efficiently manage today's business, while keeping an eye on the changes that will be necessary for the future. It can also be seen as balancing exploration and exploitation. Ensuring that you are able to exploit what is currently at your disposal while exploring other options that could be relevant in the future. When approaching management in today's ever-shifting business environment, it is important to always keep one hand in the present and one hand in the future. This is where the term "ambidextrous management" comes from.
You are in a competitive, globalized economy. It is important that businesses have a solid foundation in traditional management practices, but there has to be more than a focus on what must be done today. If a business is not growing, it is shrinking. No matter how good today looks, there is no neutral ground. As a manager, you must be able to look at the bigger picture and see how the future is going to affect your company. Complacency is the beginning of the end for a company in today's economy. Rather than just seeing what is right in front of you today, look to the future and do your best to predict what is going to help your company tomorrow.
One of the best steps that you can take towards ambidexterity is to be engaged within your industry. This will allow you to become an explorer of your industry and will ensure that you are one step ahead of your competitors. Keep up with industry trends, local and global news, and anything else that would directly affect the way that your business functions. Do not let anything sneak up on you, there really is no excuse with the amount of information that we have at our fingertips. It is easy to set up Google Alerts to send you emails or alert you directly on your phone whenever something happens within your industry. You should make it a part of your daily routine to begin the day by looking at an industry publication, or better yet, checking the internet to see up to the second news.
Although it is good to ensure your company's well-being by staying up to date with industry trends and technology, you must ensure your ability to exploit what you currently have at your disposal. The word "exploit" has a negative connotation, but this is not the case when it is being referred to in ambidextrous management. It simply means to use everything that is currently at your disposal in the most efficient manner possible. Exploitation is necessary to ensure your business' current success. If you do not use everything that is available to you, you are not allowing your company to grow to its fullest potential. Ensure that you are aware of all that is available to you, and exploit every asset possible. There is no point in exploring the new if you cannot exploit the old.
The true power of ambidextrous management is not realized until exploration and exploitation come together to form a cohesive whole. How can the two be combined? Once exploration has become a part of your everyday routine, you have to be able to exploit your findings. If you find out that there is a new technology in your industry, yet you do not exploit that technology, you have not done anything to help push your business forwards. If you do not act, or exploit, you are allowing your exploration to be rendered useless. One without the other can be useful, but, when combined, they allow a manager to push their company forward while maintaining, and building upon previous successes.
Ensure your business' future by exploring all of the options that are available to you. Make it a part of your daily routine to stay up to date with industry trends and technology. Help your business succeed today by exploiting all of the assets that are at your disposal. Traditional management can only get you so far in today's globalized environment. Ensure your own success, and that of your company, by becoming an ambidextrous manager that can take advantage of everything the world has to offer.