American companies will continue to fall behind their counterparts in emerging markets such as China or India unless they move toward "the edge," where passionate, change-driven employees collaborate with others on the kind of innovations that prevent a company from seeing its core business model slowly erode. So says John Hagel III, chairman of a tech-oriented strategy center for Deloitte. "The only thing that succeeds is to take those initiatives on the edge and pull more and more of the core out to those edges -- rather than trying to pull them back in." He says that chief executives who stick to the conventional wisdom and cling to secretive proprietary business systems are doomed to fail.
As an example, Hagel points to Stephen Gillett, a young man Hagel hired right out of college. Less than a half dozen years later, Gillett was named a senior vice president and chief information officer for Starbucks -- the youngest CIO of a Fortune 500 company at that time.
And Hagel thinks he knows a primary reason for his one-time employee's meteoric rise. Everything that Gillett needed to know, Hagel said, he learned while becoming a guild leader in the popular online game World of Warcraft.
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