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Yes, indeed, I believe that it might be an approach! It consists in pushing things forward when the organization is blocked in habits. Specialists might call it “managing by projects” or “managing by tacit competencies”. This situation might disregard the necessity for structure (McKinsey admits that structure and procedures are just necessary, but not sufficient conditions).  However, ideas and dedication might exist. 

The chances for getting forward are significantly higher when you strive for a revolution-like attitude in a conservative environment. It might be the situation in which the formal management is too concerned on figures (it is partially reasonable, as it enconter stakes pressures). What is interesting, is that the formal management and the guerilla management shoud not be conflictual, but complementary. While one focuses on economics, the other is covering, in a tacit on-going manner, the growth agenda.

Moreover, such a practice can enhance the entrepreneurial behavior of the guerilla members, with good effects for both themselves and the organization: they develop relationship and networking, while organization matures as the guerilla gets more adhesion. The chances for such an organization to get through are higher than for a company which is well-structured (transparent, fluid, and processed), as it asks for many approval filters. One might argue that too much formality might throttle alternative thinking, and as a consequence, the innovation.

Therefore, guerilla management should not be seen as a manifestation that fades formal authority, but as a contingency approach that keeps the organization alive on short and medium run.

For sure, a guerilla management is something to materialize only temporary, till the alternative approach gets shape and brings value. It is a path to a transformation process, that, as any change, brings tenssions, compromise, “victims” on both sides. But that’s life all about!

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2 thoughts on “Guerilla Management

  1. Banking might be one example. it is an environment that, per se, is concerned with conservative approach. It has a lot to do with respecting formalized approach, while prudence and risk management have become core functions in the financial environment. In addition to such compliance constraint (which is a reality), here is another “threat”: straight-through-processing. Standardizing processes in payments, equity and financial markets transactions will bring all players (adopters of supporting technology) at the same level in terms of speed and transaction completion. It will radically transform the front, middle, and back-office value chain. Therefore, the room for differentiation in these areas, is getting norrow, while there is direct pressure on price. In such circumstances, the ones who will bring value in terms of product offering will win the game. Such operational flexibility could be proliferated as “guerilla management”, as its adopters would address the constraints as something to overcome.

    Alternatively, there is the case for monopoly-like environment. I will not address the Microsoft tale or the company I will work for :). However, let’s consider the “guerilla” approach in energy. I consider that petroleum companies have the leverage to develope and encourage alternative energy technologies that would eventually be sold at scale. The constraint is again obvious, as we treat oil as a limited raw material and the “inconvenient truth” (environment pressures). Toyota has addopted for instance a “guerilla management” by launching from early stage the Prius hybrid model.

    In very sophisticated words this is the leverage for “sustainable growth”.

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