Antithetic Leadership: Designers Are Different, Business People Too
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Many established business models are being revolutionized by huge strides in IT development, the availability of cheap money, and the emergence of new buyer groups. To address these new paradigms, companies need to establish a permanent innovation capability that goes far beyond existing research and development (R&D) and idea management. Innovation capability, often also referred to as (business) innovation, complements a company’s transformation capability, which remains vital. To survive and remain competitive, companies must master both capabilities and the underlying logic in parallel. We use the term antithetic leadership to describe this duality in management behavior. This concept distinguishes between two areas of management logic: business (business transformation and operation) and design (ideation and innovation), each of which has its own theories and entrenched culture. Antithetic leadership is not an additional variant of cooperative leadership, but is rather the deliberate and purposeful practice of contradictory leadership in the same ecosystem at the same time, if necessary, by the same leader. To demonstrate what is happening in this inspiring new area, we will look at a consulting unit of SAP: The Business Transformation Services (BTS) group is facing the challenge of cultivating antithetic leadership, namely finding a way for both management cultures to relate, and enabling a positive exchange of ideas. Until now, the management culture of this group followed purely business logic.