Balancing Competing Tensions: Professor Loizos Heracleous on Ambidextrous Companies

Balancing Competing Tensions: Professor Loizos Heracleous on Ambidextrous Companies

On Wednesday, January 27, 2016, Warwick Business School Professor of Business Strategy Loizos Heracleous shared with over 200 industry professionals a lecture on the essence of business strategy and how companies can achieve ambidexterity.

January 27, 2016 – Nicosia, Cyprus. – On a chilly Nicosia evening, close to 250 industry professionals, including Cyprus’s Minister of Finance, Harris Georgiades, and the President of Democratic Rally, Averof Neofytou, gathered at Filoxenia Conference Center to listen to a presentation by world-renowned Cypriot academic, Loizos Heracleous, Professor of Strategy at Warwick Business School in the United Kingdom.

Organized by the Nicosia-based European Institute of Management and Finance (EIMF) and Plus500, a global trading platform with offices in Israel, the UK, Australia and Cyprus, Professor Heracleous’s hour-long discussion focused on the essence of business strategy and what it takes for a company to become ambidextrous.

For Marios Siathas, General Manager of EIMF, it was the right economic climate to organize this lecture, considering that “the worst is really behind us and a bright future lies ahead.”

Marios credited the local business community for this financial upsurge, remarking on how “their perseverance and hard work managed to maintain the level of services and provision of support at the highest standard.”

Ofir Chudin, CEO of Plus500CY Ltd., shared this sentiment, adding that the island “has demonstrated time and time again that, even after cataclysmic events such as the economic and banking crises of 2013, it has the strong determination and the ability to bounce back, bigger and stronger.”

Taking as points of reference case studies involving companies such as Apple, Toyota, Singapore Airlines, Uber, airbnb, Narayana Hrudayalaya Hospitals and NASA, Professor Heracleous challenged the audience to think in terms of balancing the competing tensions of exploration—prowling for new opportunities—and exploitation—using available resources to their fullest.

Professor Heracleous stressed the fact that balance is imperative and that companies have “a limited lifespan if you only exploit or only explore.”

He cited the case of Xerox in the 1970s and 80s and its inability to integrate the work being done by its Palo Alto Research Center (PARC).

More specifically, Professor Heracleous touched upon the reasons for Xerox’s slowdown, mentioning the favouring of the dominant logic, disjointed inventions that were cast aside, and politicking “more vicious than that in [Former US President Richard] Nixon’s government” as the main culprits behind the company’s failure.

He then focused exclusively on Apple and “the level of efficiency with which innovation, design, exceptional financial performance and premium offerings are accomplished.”

Banking on Apple as his primary example, Professor Heracleous explained that the key to ambidexterity is to apply a five-tiered framework that balances competing tensions.

Most importantly, he said, this model allows a company to “make strategic use of technology,” “configure [company] culture and processes,” make “investment decisions beyond financials towards ambidexterity,” and “harness the power of business systems and networks,” all linked by “an ambidextrous leader” who’s willing to emphasize both exploitation and exploration.