MLab

About MLab

With offices in Silicon Valley, the Management Lab works with leading-edge firms to help them create tomorrow’s new practices today. Our aim is to support these pioneering companies in creating genuine management innovation.

MLab is built around a collaborative research environment in which forward-thinking companies and distinguished scholars work together to invent the management processes and practices that will define competitive success in the 21st century.

MLab brings together some of the world’s leading business thinkers, academics, executives, institutions and organisations

Read more about MLab’s Community

Specifically, MLab helps its partner companies create ground-breaking management experiments that:

  • Address critical next-generation business challenges.
  • Challenge long-standing assumptions about how the work of management is best accomplished.
  • Drive step-change improvements in key performance parameters such as employee engagement, strategic resilience, and business innovation.
"MLab offers a direct line to practitioners and best practice. What we are seeking to achieve with the Lab is interesting and exciting learning, as well as engagement with thousands of managers. We want to see learning built from a robust and interactive process and followed by dissemination and impact."

Duncan Brown, former Assistant Director General, Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

Indeed, we at MLab believe you can put in place the conditions — the ingredients — that will increase both the speed of action and the likelihood of success. Our model has four steps:

Diagnosis

First, a diagnostic phase that typically involves a series of in-depth conversations with senior executives to identify the major strategic challenge that is to be addressed.

Typical challenges might be to examine the tough trade-offs that the company never seems to get right (such as pressure for short-term earnings undermining the willingness to invest in new ideas), or to focus on those things big organisations are generally bad at (such as anticipating future obstacles or unleashing the imagination of employees). This first stage is about generating excitement and buy-in around a single challenge.

Jamming

Second, we run a 2-day “jam” at which a group of carefully-chosen individuals are exposed first to the overall logic of management innovation, then to a set of brainstorming and analytical tools that are intended to focus on the underlying assumptions around an existing management process. They are then provided with stimuli for coming up with radically different alternatives to the existing process. The output from the Jam is a much deeper conceptual understanding of the issues for all participants and also a set of proposed management “experiments” that tackle some of the issues identified in the first phase

Experimentation

The third phase involves taking the high-level idea presented at the end of the Jam and turning it into a real-life management experiment. Depending on the nature of the ideas put forward, this activity can take a number of forms — the most common is a one-day “design jam” which involves fleshing out the promising ideas, putting together a simple business plan for them, and identifying the next steps that are needed to put the experiment into practice. The experimentation phase can involve conversations with senior executives about the right way of getting buy-in to the experiments to give them the best chance of succeeding. It also needs some ongoing support that the MLab team will provide.

Assessing results

The fourth and final step involves assessing, over a 6-12 month period, the outcome of the experiments, and then generating support among senior executives so that the successful experiments get the necessary levels of attention and commitment to further action.