What management dilemmas are there?

Three dilemmas that have emerged in the management of transition programmes in practice are:

First dilemma

How do I pass on innovative ideas while safeguarding the ambitions for the system innovation? Organisations whose principal task was to drive system innovations and that have faced this dilemma have adopted different approaches:

  • One approach is to bring together actors that find different aspects of the concept important. These actors can continue to push each other even if the original driver of the system innovation no longer plays that role.
  • A second approach is to form new consortia with the specific task of further developing a new idea or launching new projects. These can be public-private consortia or private consortia.
  • A third way of safeguarding the ambitions for the system innovation is to formulate a vision (create a social agenda) with a ‘forum' of stakeholders that remains in existence for some time. The members can act as ambassadors. However, a word of caution: it is not always clear in advance whether participants in the arena will actually accept this role. It is also important to estimate in advance the risk that the arena will not adopt the original ideas.

Second dilemma

When is the right time to hand over? This seems to be a real dilemma for organisations that try to get system innovations off the ground. Potential new leaders of the programme often feel unqualified, or they feel that the conditions that would give them an interest in it are missing or they prefer to wait and see what happens. Consequently, the organisation that originally initiated the programme remains involved for longer than intended, although perhaps not in the original role.

Third dilemma

Who receives the bouquets? Organisations that pioneer system innovation have an interest in highlighting the good work they are doing, to the provider of their subsidy, for example, but also to the other organisations in their field. But there are always other stakeholders involved in the development of an idea, such as research institutes or those who further develop the new concepts. These stakeholders also want to demonstrate their innovative role. You can ensure that they can by making agreements on sharing the claim to the innovation or you could gradually pass on ideas. This not only avoids tensions arising over ownership but increases the commitment of other parties.