Managerial innovation in all its forms

Digital integration, the need to collaborate, the obligation to innovate: the need for transformation has become a constant concern among companies and this has brought managerial innovation to the forefront. But the idea of management innovation is not new. What else can be done differently? How can we still innovate in management? The profusion and diversity of systems and approaches emerging today which are intended to help tends to add more confusion. The aim of this study is to help companies orient themselves and take action by providing case studies that put innovative management into perspective, depending on whether it relates more to content, context or process.


Managerial innovations in terms of content have been encountered essentially in the creative and design sectors, in companies where being a manager is not the primary lever for the subjective engagement of employees. For these companies, the challenge is to put in place a managerial culture that was previously not very widespread and that is appealing to managers and employees alike: by professionalizing managers « on the job » and « in situ », by integrating new disciplines relating to aspects such as emotions, behavioural preferences, chronobiology, and the generalization of feedback, by activating different levers to ensure teams are more empowered in terms of organization, management systems, postures, and so on. While one of the three companies on our panel was largely inspired by a holacratic approach, the other two followed a more personalised path.


Contextual managerial innovations concern managerial practices in companies where they are unexpected! The model of the liberated company in the subsidiary of a public company which originally was very hierarchical, intrapreneurship within a large global group, or management based on values and behaviours in a private foundation addressing disability issues, an environment in which the notion of management was absent. These innovations put into perspective the essential role of leaders in implementing and persevering, sometimes against current practices, towards attaining an original vision of management.


Managerial process innovations refer to the dissemination of new managerial practices within a company. Two approaches seem to emerge depending on the origin of the impetus driving the process which can either be initiated by the General Management or, less traditionally, by the people working in the field. In the more conventional top-down approach, the emphasis is on ownership and co-construction by employees in a project driven by the company « on the job ». In the emerging approach, innovation is initiated by a managerial or non-managerial employee, acting as an « influential outsider », often outside the mainstream, before being experimented with on a larger scale and subsequently promoted and disseminated in a more or less controlled manner within the company. Managerial innovation through processes seems to be the most frequent, no doubt because it still offers real opportunities for innovation and because it inevitably involves reflection on content and contexts.


Increasing the number of actors and paths towards innovation is a factor in successful managerial innovation. In addition to those primarily concerned, the HR function therefore also has a direct or indirect role to play by renewing its management practices or its support for transformations. Another means of ensuring success is to put the project through a test based on a series of questions in a three-tier analysis as proposed in the study: the influence of the context, the ownership of the players involved, and the control of the change process.

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