CONFERENCE CALL: Putting “faddish” ideas into practice

When it comes to management, there’s no shortage of new and fashionable ideas—ideas that often are dismissed as useless or “faddish” before long.

But sometimes, it’s not the ideas that are wrong, just the managers who implement them.

A one-day conference at Wharton’s Reginald H. Jones Center, October 8 will offer business leaders advice on how to bridge the gap between theory and practice—and, more specifically, teach them how to successfully put new ideas to use. Even if others dismiss those ideas as merely “fashionable.”

The conference, “Putting Ideas to Work: From Knowledge to Action,” will welcome speakers from corporations, not-for-profit organizations, Wharton itself and other institutions.

This is the first in the Jones Center’s “New Management Ideas Series.”

The central premise of the conference, organizers say, is that much can be gained by focusing on the early stages of implementing new ideas—the point when the idea has attracted one or more champions within an organization and resources are already being directed toward developing it.

At that stage, they say, somebody is already actively working to understand an idea, and how to make it work at their organization.

And though the success of such implementation efforts is often determined as much by luck as science, the conference organizers believe that business leaders can create some of their own luck by learning from the masters of that art.

Probable topics at the conference will include the following:

  • How to tell leadership fads from great ideas that are built to last

  • Predictions on what current hot ideas will be long-term winners

  • Conditions for successful mobilization around new ideas

  • How to remake and modify ideas to help them take hold

  • Reframing how we view ourselves and those we talk to

  • The role of data, and how knowing about networks shapes the implementation of ideas

  • What key behaviors can help make an idea practitioner effective

The conference is being chaired by Larry Prusak, a leading researcher, author and consultant. His new book, “What’s the Big Idea?”, was published this year by the Harvard Business School Press.

For more information and to register, go to jonescenter.wharton .upenn.edu/knowledgetoaction/agenda.htm.

Originally published on September 23, 2004