After more than 20 years working and studying in environments from traditional to radical, I’ve seen how ‘tried and true’ methods can succeed and then fail. The problem with regular, consistent, and routine processes is that they typically can’t handle a major external shock. These shocks can include game-changing global competition, revolutionary technology, economic disaster, etc. So how can you build an organization that’s robust and resilient to change? The answer lies in forcing change within an organization once the culture begins to ‘harden’. The degree of change should be sufficient – enough to allow personnel to learn about the whole business, grow a wider skill base, and improve teamwork across functions – but not enough to weaken skill, leadership, and technological development and stability. This balance is critical as movement of employees should prevent the onset of organizational lock and the enable better co-operation and decision making.
Organizations that never change – can become stale, dull, boring, and mechanical. This might be good for some businesses for some of the time. For example, if you are running a manufacturing organization, variation reduction and repeatable processes are critical. But if you want creativity and innovation in product development or manufacturing too, if you want robustness and resiliency, then forcing internal organizational changes, is a good idea. Often times, change for the sake of change is seen as wasteful and worthless. Employees may dismiss the idea as the ‘flavor of the month’ or the latest management initiative. But sometimes, a manager needs to recognize when organizational thinking has become too constrained, and procedures too rigid. When decision making has grown too bureaucratic and organizations too political, think about a disruptive change to shake up the status quo and set a new course. The change, if done correctly, will expand the creative thinking and co-operation of your top managers and leaders.
Organizations are like trees. They grow deep roots and long branches. They keep on growing blocking out the light that new, young trees need to grow. So think about a good pruning to remove the ‘dead wood’.
For more posts on Creativity and Innovation processes – click here.