Employees’ voice is vital to regional organisations’ survival, says business school professor

Giving employees the ability to have a say in shaping strategy is key to the survival of public and private-sector organisations in the Middle East and beyond, according to Professor Gary Hamel of the London Business School.

Speaking on the opening day of the World Strategy Summit in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, he urged organisations to develop and empower their employees, in addition to prioritising innovation.

“Innovation is key to an organisation’s success, innovation dramatically changes customer expectations and industry economics, allowing a company to stay above competition,” said Mr Hamel.

“However, a successful organisation banks on its human capital. Hence it is important to give employees the freedom and a voice in shaping the destiny of the organisation.”

This means moving away from traditional management structures that often act as a brake on growth.

“It is impossible, I think, to build truly capable organisations without redistributing power and redistributing authority,” said Mr Hamel.

“One of the real challenges in the work we are doing is taking leaders who learnt how to succeed in an old hierarchical bureaucracy system and helping them learn how to build their influence in a new way with a different set of skills.”

More than 500 delegates — including ministry officials, business leaders and entrepreneurs — attended the first day of Abu Dhabi’s inaugural World Strategy Summit to discuss effective strategies and innovation for a sustainable future.

At the opening of the event, Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, the Minister of Development and International Cooperation, said: “It is critical that we as leaders take a step back and ensure that our strategies are holistic in design, adaptable to change, and steadfast in vision.

“It is my hope that this summit will allow us to learn to interact, challenge and apply the topics of discussion that will be raised over the next three days by the world’s leading authorities on strategy leadership and innovation.”

The popular American author Thomas Peters praised the UAE’s emphasis on innovation during a presentation yesterday.

“The whole world is changing rapidly and technology is a driving factor on how it influences the way we work, live and think,” said Mr Peters, the author of books including In Search of Excellence and The Circle of Innovation.

“Innovation is crucial and we need to re-innovate on how we can best achieve business goals and excellence. The UAE … has set an example on how innovation and strategy can lead to economic success.”

UAE Innovation Week runs from this Sunday to next Saturday. The Federal Government has declared 2015 as the Year of Innovation.

The summit concludes on Thursday with presentations from Professor Renee Mauborgne, the co-director of the Insead Blue Ocean Strategy Institute, and Professor Rafael Ramirez of the Said Business School at Oxford University.


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