Is your organization set up for innovation?

by | Sep 20, 2019

A lot of organizations say they are innovative or that they strive to be. Is it just something they say to get the buy-in from clients or do they have a good environment within the organization that promotes innovative ideas?

There are three things that need to be in sync and function well within a company’s structure to ensure

  • Organization Structure itself

  • Culture

  • Processes

Let’s start with the Organization Structure. There is Hierarchical, Matrix, and self-managing teams. Organizations may take bits and pieces of the main structures and move along with the work. What could be the issue is how the structure is set up compared to the organization vision. What I mean is depending on how teams and individuals are set up with work expectations could become a barrier for getting ideas to flow. Think of salmon going up river, eventually one will get to it’s destination, only to die at the end. An idea can flow through the ranks unfortunately by the time it is in a position for approval it could be obsolete.

The one thing I have read and agree with is an organization that has an “Innovation Team” will have a difficult time being innovative. My experience is teams like this will research new technology, see what the competition is doing and come up with ideas. That process I see nothing wrong with,. What I do see wrong with it is the lack of experience and communication with other stakeholders during the process. Again I go back to my salmon analogy, could be a great idea just a lot of obstacles in the way.

Culture is a big reason ideas fall to the way side. There are so many reasons a culture can destroy innovation. An organization can have the best vision and mission statement, with all the best motivational posters around the office and it could do nothing if the work environment says the opposite. All it takes is a few people to have different motives and things can come crashing down. Or it could be the Senior Leadership is counteracting it’s own message by acting in ways that are the exact opposite. Most everyone will experience this in some shape or form. Grabbing power,exert influence or worse secretly sabotaging others. Now that is an extreme view.

Now there could be subconscious parts of the culture that could be happening that nobody realizes. “Here we go again” is something that would be a clue that something could be wrong. This is normally based out of frustration on trying to get things to work and a bump in the road comes along to shake things up. This is usually the mindset that failure is bad. This negative view then brings down everyone and creates an uphill battle to get back to where they are. It is up to leadership to change those views.

Process is key. Without processes it will turn into Anarchy. A bit much? Well it is bad to not have processes to get the work done. It is just as bad to have too much process. There are organizations that have so much governance it is amazing that anything gets done. Like organization structures there are plenty of main process methodologies out there to follow. They work, if they didn’t they wouldn’t be around. There has to be a happy medium with putting structure on how things are done. Processes, for the most part, should be seen as guidelines. What the difference here is does the process meet the need of the Vision and Mission statements? Do they meet the needs of the Organization Structure? Or the Culture?

What I am saying is these three things have to overlap and work together to promote a good innovative mindset and environment. The difficult part is, like reviewing your own work, sometimes things are overlooked or bypassed to see any root cause of innovation issues.

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