Innovation Hints.

Structuring for Innovation

  • What Type of Organizational Structures Support Innovation?

    Research shows that organizational structure plays a major role in either increasing or decreasing an organisation’s capacity for innovation and creativity.

    • Organisational structures that encourage innovation and creativity:
      • Formal organizational structures that are flatter and less hierarchical.
      • Diffused, less-centralised power and authority across the organisation.
      • Managerial openness to staff ideas and input.
      • Managerial and staff members with broad personal and professional networks that cross departmental and organizational boundaries.
      • Organisational slack in available resources.
      • Enough resources to support innovation, but not too many.

                      “Necessity is the mother of invention”

  • Organisational Innovation Factors that Affect Innovation Success

    • Type of Innovation: What type of innovation are you trying to produce in relationship to your organisation?
      • A supplementary innovation adds something new to what your organisation already is doing.
      • A complementary innovation is something new, but is related to what your organisation already is doing. It may require additional expertise and personnel to create and manage.
      • A radical innovation adds something completely new and unrelated to what your organisation is doing, requiring new expertise to create and manage.
      • A disruptive innovation is one that requires an organisation and its staff to completely change the way they work.

    The more radical, “discontinuous” or “disruptive” the innovation your organisation tries to achieve, the more challenging the innovation and change management process is likely to be.

  • Managing for Innovation & Creativity: Structure

    • Structuring Innovation Processes.

                Successful organizational innovation requires:

      • A change agent: The person who develops the innovative/creative idea.
      • A champion: The commitment to support and champion the innovation from someone in the organisation’s leadership and management.
        • Research shows that even small innovations in news organisations, such as training journalists in new reporting techniques, often fails to result in actual changes in the news product, if editors and managers who have final say over content do not receive the same training and commit to the change.
        • There must be strong managerial commitment to an innovative idea for the innovation to actually succeed.
      • Cross-departmental involvement. Successful innovation requires multi-departmental input, expertise, and commitment.
        • Cross-organisational involvement in the development reduces the likelihood that key success factors will be overlooked.
        • Cross-organisational involvement reduces the likelihood that organizational politics will prevent successful adoption and implementation.
      • Diversity among team members. Innovation/creative teams should have diverse gender, age, ethnic and cultural representation.
        • Cultural diversity reduces the likelihood that an innovation will fail because it misses or offends some important part of its potential market.
        • Cultural diversity relates to the importance to innovation processes for broad interpersonal and professional networks and diversity in perspective, expertise and experience.
      • Conflict management skills.
        • An organisation and management that can tolerate, accept and manage intra-organisational conflict.
        • Conflict is a necessary part of creativity and innovation; conflict-averse managers and organisations are unlikely to be creative or succeed at innovation.
  • Managing for Innovation & Creativity: Psychology.

    • Psychology of Innovation/Creativity.
      • Creativity and innovation are processes based on intrinsic motivation.
        • Intrinsic motivation is the desire to solve a problem for the personal challenge and joy of doing so.
        • Research shows people are more creative when they are working on a problem because it interests them, than when they are working on it for extrinsic reasons such as public recognition or money.
        • Intrinsic motivation requires that individuals and innovation teams be given “ownership” of the innovation or problem-solving process; that is, they should be allowed to work without constant managerial oversight, review, or critique.
          1. This is related to the importance of a flatter, less authoritarian and hierarchical organizational structure to successful innovation.
      • Groundbreaking breakthroughs are often achieved by individuals who
        • Are younger and fairly new to their careers.
        • Have at least some expertise and experience in the field.
        • Are not so experienced and entrenched in the field that are fully socialized into “how it’s done” and “what we know”.
        • Have multi-disciplinary knowledge or experience, often from entirely unrelated fields.
  • Managing for Innovation & Creativity: Decision Processes.

    • Decision Processes
      • Failure is possible without consequences.
        • It is critical for management to communicate to the team that failure is possible.
        • If failure to successfully innovate will damage team-members’ careers, their efforts will focus on self-preservation and personal risk-management, rather than on creativity and innovation.
        • Communicating to staff or innovation teams that some level of failure is expected often results in a higher-level of overall creativity and innovation across time.
        • The freedom to risk failure also is related to the need for innovators to be intrinsically motivated and, therefore, to have ownership of the innovation process.
      • Communicate decision process on results before work starts.
        • Communicate before the team starts work about who will make the final decision to implement, or not implement, the proposals and how that decision will be made.
        • There are three general approaches to decision making[1]
          1. Authoritarian – the leader/manager makes the decision.
          2. Consultative – the leader/manager discusses the decision with subordinates, takes the input into consideration, but has communicated clearly beforehand that the final decision will be made by the senior manager or management.
          3. Group—the decision will be made by organizational or team consensus.
        • Group or consultative decision processes are indicated where there is[2]
          1. a quality-component to the implementation of the decision or innovation.
          2. the decision or innovation requires acceptance by subordinates to be successful.
          3. there is likely to be conflict among subordinates over the outcome.
        • Authoritarian decision processes imposed unexpectedly on a committee, task force or innovation team that believed it had ownership of a project – or a significant voice in implementation -- will have long-term negative consequences for staff-managerial trust, and staff engagement with future innovation efforts.
          1. If management has given an innovation team “ownership” of an innovation process, every effort should be made to accept and implement the team’s recommendations, if they are at all feasible.
          2. Such acceptance is as an investment in the staff’s long-term commitment to the organisation’s success.
          3. Careful choice and use of decision processes is related to organizational Fantasy Themes and their effects on innovation and outcomes.
    [1] Hughes, R.L., Ginnett, R.C., & Curphy, G.J., (1999). Leadership: Enhancing the lessons of experience. Irwin McGraw-Hill.
    [2] Vroom, V.H., & Yetton, P.W. (1973). Leadership and decision making. University of Pittsburgh Press.
  • Change Management

    • Attributes of Successful Change Managers
      • Personally open tochange.
      • Good Communication.
        • Able to communicate the relationship between the impending change and the organisation’s long-term goals/sustainability.
          1. Growing the organisation’s profit margins and owners’ returns on investment are not goals managers should expect to inspire staff to accept change.
        • Able to communicate the relationship between the impending change and the employees’ individual and collective personal/professional goals.
      • Keeps staff focused on shared values.
      • Flexible.
      • Supportive of staff and their personal/professional goals.
      • Gives employees professional autonomy
        • Greater control over their own jobs.
      • Sensitive to workload demands of jobs on employees.
      • Sensitive to emotional demands of jobs on employees.
      • Able to inspire employees’ self-confidence and self-expectations.
      • Able to accept and manage intra-organisational conflict.
        • Able to keep conflict focused on organizational goals and differences, rather than interpersonal or subgroup conflicts and goals.
      • Able to avoid paralysis through analysis.
  • Change Management

    • Employee Responses to Changes
      • There are five types of employee responses to organizational change[1] 
        • Change agents – individuals who innovate or welcome innovations.
        • Early adopters – individuals who quickly see the advantage of adopting an innovation
          1. Often these individuals are opinion leaders within the organization’s social. system
        • Early majority—individuals who will follow the early adopters once the advantages of adoption become clear, but they won’t lead.
        • Late majority—individuals who resist, and go along only after the disadvantages/sanctions for not adopting become clear.
        • Laggards—individuals who refuse to adopt or adapt.
      • Employees’ responses to innovation/change are influenced by:
        • Previous experiences with innovation and change
          1. Positive previous experience increases openness to change.
          2. Positive previous experiences are related to higher personal commitment to the organisation.
          3. Negative previous experiences increases resistance to change.
          4. Negative previous experiences are related to employee loss of faith in management.
            1. Negative previous experiences are related to lower personal commitment to the organisation.
        • Experience with a major organizational change within the previous two years increases resistance to change.
        • Higher workload demands of job are related to increased resistance to change.
        • Higher emotional demands of job are related to increased resistance to change.
        • Greater control over work is related to more neutral attitudes towards change.
        • Greater perceived opportunities with job/career are related to more neutral attitudes towards change.
        • Age and experience are related to resistance to change, with older, more experienced, or employees with more seniority in the organisation likely – but not always – being more resistant to innovation and change.
      • Change that affects employees’ personal and professional identifies strongly influences responses to change according to whether the change is perceived as having a positive or negative effect
        • Journalists and news professionals are particularly resistant to changes they feel threatens their professional identities or their ability to produce high-quality work according to professional standards[2]
    [2] Daniels, G. & Hollifield, C.A. (2002). Times of turmoil: Short- and long-term effects of organizational change on newsroom employees. Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, 79 (3), 661-680; Hanusch, F. (2017). Web analytics and the functional differentiation of journalism cultures: individual, organizational and platform-specific influences on newswork. Information, Communication & Society, 20(10), 1571-1586, DOI: 10.1080/1369118X.2016.1241294; Singer, J. B. (2003). Who are these guys?: The online challenge to the notion of journalistic professionalism. Journalism, 4 (2), 139-163. DOI 10.1177/14648849034200
  • Change Management

    • Employee Change-Adoption Process.
      • Organisational-change adoption proceeds along four steps.
        • Denial.
        • Resistance.
        • Exploration.
        • Acceptance.
      • Symptoms of denial and resistance.
        • Still using old processes.
        • Ducking new assignments or working arrangements.
        • Slowing the pace of work.
        • Blocking others who are adopting the change.
        • Appealing to others to stop the change.
        • Playing the victim.
      • Managing Employee Change-Adoption Responses.
        • Identify opinion leaders within the organisation and recruit/encourage them to become early adopters.
        • Budget for ongoing learning and training related to the innovation/change for all staff.
        • Offer employees opportunities to observe the innovation/change and test it for themselves before being forced to apply it in their work.
        • Connect staff rewards to change goals.
        • Listen to staff concerns; recognize that change is emotionally difficult for most people and represents loss or routine and sometimes power, influence or sense of personal control over their work.
          1. Be supportive; respond with empathy.
        • Stay focused on solutions, not problems.
        • Stay focused on shared values.
        • Engage in participative decision making as much as possible.
        • Make sure change procedures and how staff is treated is fair, equitable, and performance related.
        • Listen to, and respond to, the actual focus of concern: Fairness versus Outcome.
      • Fairness versus Outcome
        • When faced with innovation or change, a large percentage of people will react negatively, at least initially. Some individuals will object to the innovation/change on the ground of Fairness.
          1. Fairness to them personally.
          2. Fairness to the unit.
          3. Fairness based on past performance.
          4. Why it should, or shouldn’t be done.
        • Others will argue against the change on the grounds of likely Outcome.
          1. Why it’s important to individual.
          2. Why it’s important to the unit.
          3. Why it will have positive, or negative effects.
          4. Why it should, or shouldn’t be done.
        • Often the language used about these two topics is nearly identical, so it can sound as if people are talking about the same issues although, in reality, they are talking about – and concerned about -- entirely different things.
          1. Conflict resolution, negotiation or compromise is impossible, if one person/group is focused on fairness issues and the other is focused on outcome issues.
          2. Often the two individuals/groups will not even realize they are arguing about two different things;
          3. Because they are talking past each other without realizing it, the other party seems unsympathetic or incapable of understanding.
          4. Intra-organisational conflicts will escalate and can continue for months – or years.
        • Managers need to listen carefully to identify the underlying focus of an individual or group’s concerns and move to address those issues from that perspective
        • Only after addressing the actual focus of the issues being raised --fairness or outcome --should the other issue be included in the discussion
        • To the degree possible, managers should actively seek positive interventions leading to win-win adjustments for staff concerned with fairness issues, as well as those concerned with outcome issues.
      • Manage staff turnover.
        • Innovation and change often results in a reduction in employee commitment to the organisation.