Morten Hansen

Speech Topics

With a team of more than twenty researchers, Morten Hansen and Jim Collins studied companies that rose to greatness—beating their industry indexes by a minimum of ten times over fifteen years—in environments characterized by big forces and rapid shifts that leaders could not predict or control. The research team then contrasted these “10X companies” to a carefully selected set of comparison companies that failed to achieve greatness in similarly extreme environments. The study results were full of provocative surprises, which Morten shares in this new talk. Including:

• The best leaders were not more risk taking, more visionary, and more creative than the comparisons; they were more disciplined, more empirical, and more paranoid.

• Innovation by itself turns out not to be the trump card in a chaotic and uncertain world; more important is the ability to scale innovation, to blend creativity with discipline.

• Following the belief that leading in a “fast world” always requires “fast decisions” and “fast action” is a good way to get killed.

• The great companies changed less in reaction to a radically changing world than the comparison companies.

This session distills more than a decade of field-tested research into a disciplined approach that helps managers separate good collaboration opportunities from bad ones. Drawing on rich examples from companies such as Hewlett-Packard, Procter & Gamble, Apple, and BP, the book outlines proven techniques managers can use to achieve cost-savings, better innovation, and increased sales.

Deciding when to collaborate — and when not to — is the first critical step in disciplined collaboration. To master collaboration is to know when not to do it. The book highlights common collaboration traps that managers must avoid. Hansen also identifies four major barriers to successful collaboration — the “not-invented-here” syndrome, hoarding, search problems, and transfer issues — and shows leaders how to spot them.

Collaboration then outlines three strategy “levers” leaders can tailor to tear down these barriers:

• Reduce motivational barriers and get “buy-in” toward a common goal
• Encourage “T-shaped” management that rewards both independent results and cross-unit contributions
• Create nimble, not bloated, networks across the organization that deliver results


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Morten Hansen is the co-author of Great By Choice with Jim Collins, and author of Collaboration. He is a management professor at the University of California, Berkeley (School of Information) and at INSEAD, France. Formerly a professor at the Harvard Business School, he holds a Ph.D. from the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University, where he was a Fulbright scholar and received the Jaedicke award for outstanding academic performance. He has also been a senior management consultant with the Boston Consulting Group in London, Stockholm and San Francisco.

Professor Hansen’s award-winning research has been published in leading academic journals, and he is the winner of the Administrative Science Quarterly award for having made exceptional contributions to the field of organization studies. He has also published several best-selling articles in the Harvard Business Review on collaboration, leadership and innovation.

Professor Hansen regularly delivers keynote addresses and consults for companies across the world. A native of Norway and a former silver medalist in the Norwegian junior track and field championship, he lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife and two daughters, and enjoys running, hiking, good food, and traveling.

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