There are organizations, whose corporate lounges are stifled and strained by confusion and frustration. Such organizations are generally observed creating barriers to innovation and keep doing things the way they have always been done. At their core, they tend to hold on to only what is familiar and maintain a ‘ comfort zone’. But as a matter of fact, it is not always comfortable, so experts have coined the term of ‘ familiar zone’.
Many business units of large organizations find it challenging to think beyond the coming quarter or the next model of their product. While a bigger challenge awaits them as they stay captured in their current revenue stream, new entrants disrupt the market. To deal with innovation risks, organizations are increasingly opting for R& D groups that are equipped with innovative ideas. But there are cases where the R& D groups are completely disconnected from the business units.
The importance of innovation in a business can be traced through the reliance of shareholders, employees and customers on the addition of meaning and purpose to all aspects of an organization’s brand, service and culture. They expect the business executives to create a healthy and innovative work environment to achieve this goal.
There was a time when creativity and innovation were considered just in the areas of science and advertising. But today’s fast paced business environment has transformed these two features as a prerequisite for success of all departments of a business, perhaps even for survival. To compete in the global economy, many experts and futurists believe that organizations need to place greater emphasis on right-brain functions such as artistic, big picture thinking and the ability to conceptualise. This is a step ahead towards the traditional calculative mode of business.
To find answers to whether creativity and innovation can be managed, the Harvard Business School held a colloquium on ‘Creativity, Entrepreneurship, and Organizations of the Future’. Senior managers of four sizeable organizations, heavily involved in innovation, posed their queries to the assembled researchers and practitioners. One Silicon Valley entrepreneur asked whether management is a net positive or a negative in fostering creativity and innovation. He cited a growing body of evidence that suggests that bottomup discovery has a superior record in comparison to top-down deliberate strategies from headquarters.
Another executive asked whether creativity has a chance to emerge in a large organisation. According to him, creativity flourishes in limited resources as new ways have to be found to deal with the constraints. The management has to play a role in large scale organizations to define the limits where innovation and complexity of system does not stifle it. The colloquium gathered some other innovation models and suggestions about how technology can bring new versions of innovation for enterprises and the community at large.
Many bureaucratic structures in both the public and private sector have been built along restrictive policy manuals. They keep struggling with delivering basic services, even with the allocation of large budgets. Such organizations become riskaverse and gradually lose the tolerance for risk or failure.
To overcome this, the walls must be lowered within the organisation which bars the flow of information. Open communication and auditing of staff members with regular surveys facilitate the basic ground for innovation. Technology-based solutions need to be presented at meetings to increase the compliance of organisations. Moreover, the R& D groups and business units need to agree on a time frame and a shared vision so that the R& D group can work in line with that vision. After all, generating fresh solutions to problems and the ability to create new products, processes or services for a changing global market are part of the intellectual capital that gives an organisation its competitive edge