In my work I have the opportunity to get involved at the transformational level (strategy-leadership-culture) as well as at the transactional level (systems-processes-structures). One issue that always arises is how to embed a culture of innovation into the business. The follow up question is how to orchestrate and integrate new and existing assets or competencies (and what kind of high level routines one needs to have in place or create) so that it is seamless and brings minimum disturbance to the business.
This is a topic that, when raised, signals to me that the leadership is aware of the necessity to change and of a mindset that leans toward short and frequent sets of competitive advantages rather than old monopoly rents type thinking.
After all, as Charles Darwin put it:
"It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one that is most responsive to change.”
The knowledge creation (let's call that "sensing") is not something that businesses lack; the tricky bit is the knowledge integration (adapt and implement via routines and systems) that generates the debate. Technology companies do usually better than other industries when it comes to the "adapt" , implementation and the "shifting" activities.
One of the qualities that a business should possess in order to facilitate innovation is ambidexterity.
Ambidexterity is a dynamic capability that involves leaders' ability to advance the interests of the business today and in the same time create the necessary environment to drive innovation and generate frequent and sustained Schumpeterian advantages so that the business remains relevant in tomorrow's world.
It involves both the cognitive and behavioural side of one's leadership.
An ambidextrous organization is an organization that possesses ambidextrous leaders.
A simpler way of looking at this is outlined in my diagram below.