How to Manage Innovation Even Remotely: The Art of Balancing Autonomy and Control

In “The Art of Balancing Autonomy and Control,” NYU Stern Professor Hila Lifshitz-Assaf, Stern PhD student Sarah Lebovitz (PhD '20) and Lior Zalmanson share the findings from a three year study of organizing hackathons. They focus on how hackathons organizers balance the autonomy of participants on their creative process with the need to control the outcomes of the process. Today, managers recognize more than ever that they cannot control their team and the work process when aiming to innovate. How can managers learn from hackathon organizers on balancing autonomy and control to achieve their goals?

A key insight from the research is that hackathon organizers have a unique approach to the act of management that can also be very helpful when managing remotely. Instead of managing the innovation process as it happens, they diligently set the stage, and then step back.

This video describes three strategic best practices to help managing innovation while balancing autonomy with control.

Read the MIT Sloan Management Review paper on the art of balancing autonomy and control here.

Read the recent Academy of Management Journal paper on how hackathons’ projects accelerate innovate to 72 hours without killing it here.