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通用电气:不怕犯错才能做工业的颠覆者

Heataher Clancy 2016年07月25日

要想打败数码领域的创业公司,传统工业企业就必须像他们一样长袖善舞。

人人都知道,大型企业特别是上市公司,往往不像刚成立的创业公司那样愿意承担风险。

犯错往往是突破性创新的突破口。然而现在,为了阻止犯错而设计的各种既有模式却堵住了创新的口子,比如执行了许多年的薪资结构,与零件供应商和加工商伙伴的关系,以及销售渠道等等,不一而足。否则就难以解释为什么只有5%的“财富500强”企业(据某些人估算)果断采用了各种颠覆了整个行业业务模式的数码技术了。

Box公司的CEO亚伦·李维将这种现象称为“工业主义者的困境”,这也正是他去年冬天在斯坦福商学院主讲的一门研究生课程的课题。

李维预测道:“下一个十年将决定哪些工业企业能继续生存,哪些工业企业将被淘汰。”

最近发生的一件事也佐证了他的观点:近日,围绕着特斯拉自动驾驶技术导致一名车主死亡的事件引发了不小的争议,而特斯拉对此事的回应则相对沉默。对此,本周二,李维在出席《财富》主办的脑力风暴科技大会时指出:“如果是一家‘底律特三巨头’这样的公司遭到了这种失败,就会阻碍所有创新,直到事件得到彻底解决。所以对于这种大公司来说,失败的成本会更加突出。”

一家大公司如果不想被后来者颠覆,尤其是被那些可以直接和他们的传统客户打交道的软件专家们所颠覆,就要必须具备敢于犯错的决心。李维指出:“失败也可以树立一个积极的榜样。毕竟,你总会在一些失败的东西上投入很多资金。”

通用电气公司就希望将这种理念灌输到企业文化中,使公司上下从经理人到工程师再到销售代表都具备敢于犯错的勇气。通用电气公司的副总裁贝丝·康斯托克表示:“我们正致力于同时实现数字化和工业化。既像大企业一样做事,又像小企业一样创新。”

在过去五六年间,通用电气公开将自己的角色定义成工业领域的搅局者——虽然这一战略有时也不受投资者喜欢。通用将大量资金投向了软件、传感器和物联网领域——通用电气公司也将其称为工业互联网。去年秋天,该公司还斥资10亿美元,成立了一个专门研究能源效率的部门,该部门目前就由康斯托克负责。

康斯托克也坦承,创新要想在收益上得到体现,首先需要一种文化上的转变。“人们对此很恐慌。”同时,它也需要公司从组织结构、销售方式和薪酬方案上都做出一定的变革。

例如,要想销售通用电气最新推出的预见性维护及设备优化服务,就需要通用电气的销售人员具备此前并不需要的咨询技能。这意味着公司必须招聘新人,并且让他们能够放心地以新的方式开展工作。“你可以开展培训,但你也需要新的DNA。”

为了提高员工对“工业互联网”创新项目的积极性和责任感,通用电气还推出了新的物质激励政策,并且出台了奖金机制。比如,对于促进公司获得全新收入来源的员工,公司会将这些全新销售收入中的一部分作为奖金发给他们,以资鼓励。康斯托克表示,你很快就会发现谁是真心支持这个计划。

“有些人想要的是安全,而且他们想保持自己的优势地位。而这是一次很好的测试,能够看出谁能茁壮成长,谁愿意承担多少风险,谁能够坚持创新。” (财富中文网)

译者:朴成奎

It’s common wisdom that big companies, especially publicly traded ones, usually find it more difficult to stomach risk than startups.

Everything from historic compensation structures to relationships with component and manufacturing partners to sales disruption channels gets in the way of the mistakes required to inspire disruptive innovation. Why else would so fewFortune 500 companies—just 5% by one estimate—be acting decisively to embrace digital technologies that are disrupting the business models of entire industries?

It’s a phenomenon that Box CEO Aaron Levie has dubbed the “Industrialist’s Dilemma,” the subject of a graduate course he taught last winter at Stanford University’s business school.

“The next decade or so will be defining for which industrials will survive and which won’t,” Levie predicted.

One recent example that illustrates his thesis: Tesla’s   -0.94%  relatively muted response to controversy over a driver fatality believed to be linked to its autopilot technology. “If you have a Detroit company had that sort of failure, that would halt all innovation” until the matter was resolved, Levie said during a main stage session Tuesday at Fortune Brainstorm Tech. “The cost of failure is more public.”

Yet, a willingness to make mistakes is exactly what big companies must embrace to avoid being disrupted, especially by software specialists that can speak directly to their traditional customers. “Failure can set a positive example,” Levie posited. “You will invest a lot of money in things that don’t work.”

That’s a philosophy that General Electric is trying to instill throughout its culture from managers to engineers to sales representatives, said Beth Comstock, vice president of industrial giant GE. “We’re trying to be both digital and industrial,” she explained. “To be big and yet act small.”

For the past five or six years, GE has made a very public attempt to cast itself in the role of industrial disruptor, a strategy—sometimes unpopular with investors—closely tied to investments in software (its Predix initiative), sensors and the Internet of things or, as GE likes to call it, the Industrial Internet. Last fall, for example, the company created a $1 billion business devoted to energy efficiency, which Comstock oversees.

Earning buy-in required a cultural reset, she acknowledged. “People are fearful.” It also required very specific changes to organizational structures, sales methods, and compensation plans.

Selling GE’s predictive maintenance and equipment optimization services, for example, requires consulting skills that haven’t traditionally be required of GE salespeople. That meant hiring new people and making it safe for them to act differently. “You can train, but you also need new DNA,” she said.

GE also developed different financial incentives to inspire interest in—and accountability for—its Industrial Internet initiatives, emulating the bonus plans often used by. For example, why not give those driving entirely new sources of revenue a cut of those sales? You’ll find out quickly who really supports the plan, Comstock said.

“Some people want security and they want the upside,” she said. “It’s a good test of who will thrive. How much are they willing to risk? Who will go the distance?”

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