Expert Voices: Jim Champy on Corporate Darwinism

In his new book, Outsmart! How to Do What Your Competitors Can’t (FT Press, 2008), Jim Champy chronicles the success of companies that reengineered their business models to transform both their organizations and their industries. In his research, Champy looked at more than 1,000 companies with double- to triple-digit growth. What he produced is a collection of crisp case studies on the most innovative, growth-charged business models he found.

The common thread: These companies all drew on IT to produce substantial competitive advantages.

The concept of change and transformation is nothing new to Champy, chairman of Perot Systems’ consulting practice. With Michael Hammer, he co-authored the best-selling Reengineering the Corporation: A Manifesto for Business Revolution in 1994 and followed up two years later with Reengineering Management: The Mandate for New Leadership.

In today’s business environment, a combination of innovation, ambition and calculated risk–mixed with a strong IT strategy–can transform companies from has-beens to market leaders. The keys to success? Looking at IT as a strategic asset and adapting management to meet the changing dynamics of business.

Champy spoke recently with CIO Insight online editor Brian P. Watson, who condensed and edited the following transcript.

CIO Insight: You say there’s not much new in management, but plenty new in business. How so?

Champy: Executives know the fundamentals of management but don’t always practice them. Managers today ask the same questions about how to change as they did 20 years ago. Every new manager is still discovering this stuff. It’s not that we shouldn’t be teaching good management practice–I just felt there wasn’t much new I could contribute about what’s new in management.

But doesn’t management have to evolve to handle change in business and customer strategies?

Champy: Management does evolve. Almost all the leaders and founders of the companies I wrote about were very open and transparent in what they thought or said with their people and their customers. They were open and transparent to a point where they were prepared to be vulnerable, to be wrong in their decisions and to change what they might be doing if it didn’t work. It was a very open management style and leadership style that many executives in larger companies would not adopt, or would be fearful of adopting.

Management style is adapting and changing, and, in some instances, it was much different than what I’d find at larger companies.

Page 2: The Great Leveler

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