In­no­va­tion Man­age­ment

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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

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