Managing a Business/ms 91
Suppose you are working in a creative/innovative organization. Identify the characteristics of this organization. Also find out how it has used its creativity as one of its strategies?
Suppose you are working in a creative/innovative organization. Identify the characteristics of this organization. Also find out how it has used its creativity as one of its strategies?
the organizations that are always coming up with new ideas, new products, new ways to serve customers and add value. I have tried to boil these down to just a few characteristics.
Characteristics of an INNOVATIVE ORGANIZATION
1. Management is tolerant of failure;
2. Bureaucracy and bureaucratic policies are at a minimum;
3. Risks are not analyzed endlessly (paralysis by analysis);
4. Management gives rewards to people who take risks;
5. Management is open to outside ideas;
6. Everyone is encouraged to suggest improvements;
7. Ideas are listened to, no matter their source;
8. Informal communication across departmental lines is encouraged; and
9. Interpersonal skills are encouraged.
When we say management is tolerant of failure we do not mean management puts up with endless mistakes and people who are not doing their jobs. That would be foolish and totally counter-productive in any organization. What we are saying is that management understands the inherent risks involved in trying something new, and people willing to take these risks may fail at their attempts to be innovative. A corporate culture that encourages innovation will tolerate these types of failures knowing that they are part of the process people go through to come up with creative, innovative solutions to problems. A company that does not allow for these types of failures will shut down the creativity and willingness to try in their people, and will eventually lose these people to a more forward-thinking organization.
Every company has a certain amount of bureaucracy in it ... it comes with the territory. However, innovative companies keep the bureaucracy to a minimum and have policies in place that everyone can understand and identify with. Job descriptions are easy to understand and allow for flexibility of the individual. Individuals have the opportunity to add to and/or modify their job descriptions for the betterment of the organization. Once again, innovation is encouraged in doing one's job.
When considering a new and innovative way of dealing with a challenge, the risks involved must be considered. The equation of benefit vs. risk must always be weighed. However, if the potential benefit exceeds the risk involved, it is necessary to go ahead and implement the innovation. It is prudent and good judgment to analyze potential risk, but it is easy to analyze every aspect of the risk to the point where we become paralyzed by the "what if's." At some point, faith in the people involved and the benefit of the innovation must prevail. That is the only way companies can gain a competitive edge in today's challenging world of business.
Every organization must have two types of employees. You need the employees who come in every day and quietly and effectively do their jobs. They do not want to move ahead in the company, and they are happy where they are. They do what they are told and they do it well. They take pride in their work, however, they are not the ones to come up with new ideas. They will implement the ideas of OTHERS but they are not the ones to innovate. Every organization needs these people, as they form the basic foundation of the company. They need to be rewarded for their dedication, commitment and loyalty to the company, and most are.
The other type of employee is the one who may give you more grief at times, but he/she will ultimately take your organization to the next level. This employee is the risk-taker; the visionary who can get other people on board to make things happen. In innovative organizations this employee is rewarded for the willingness and ability to take a risk and the outcomes he/she achieves.The outcomes achieved and the reward given should be public knowledge within the company. Perhaps a column in the company Newsletter or in a column on your company website ... let the whole company see the process of risk/outcome/reward.
Management is open to outside ideas. Mangement understands that new and creative ideas are vital to the success and longevity of a company. Management is open to receiving ideas from everyone in the company. Ideally, management will provide a place for those ideas to be explored, articulated and discussed. Perhaps once a week, or once a month, management can set aside a certain amount of time (Tuesday afternoon from 2:00 to 4:00) for people to discuss their ideas with management. Nobody is laughed at or diminished for his/her idea, and people can feel free to discuss their ideas without fear of punishment or retribution.This scheduled open-door time to discuss ideas gives management an opportunity to assess its employees as well as listen to their ideas and it gives management an opportunity to know employees on a deeper level.
Everyone is encouraged to suggest improvements, and that means EVERYONE. Nobody is looked down on because of his/her position in the company. Each person is given the same opportunity to suggest improvements coming from his/her own unique perspective. Sam Walton of Wal-Mart was a master at this. He would walk into one of his stores unannounced, and go into the warehouse and ask the stock clerks how they were doing and if they had any ideas as to improving their part of the business. He then went to the clerks on the floor and asked them the same thing. He asked them what items were selling, what were not, and their suggestions for adding or deleting product to their mix. What a smart manager he was! Not only was he getting the ideas from the people right in the line of fire, he was making each and every person feel like a vital and important part of the organization. Good advice to heed.
Ideas are listened to, no matter their source. Innovative organizations look for ideas from all industries, not just their own. Innovative managers read many magazines and periodicals from numerous industries to find out how other industries are dealing with similar challenges. Innovative organizations send their management team to conferences and conventions of their industry and other industries as well to pick up new ideas and strategies for dealing with today's daunting challenges in business. When I am thinking of putting a new program together, I always ask people from a number of industries for their input on how I can help them with the issues they are facing. I am always surprised at the commonalities in the issues people are facing, regardless of industry. Innovative organizations look outside their own for ideas and solutions to their problems.
Informal communication across departmental lines is encouraged. Part of the work I do with organizations is to move management and employees closer together to form a cohesive and productive team. One of the strategies I stress is that members of one department become familiar with all the other departments so that each department feels free to turn to other departments within the organization for help and advice. This is very important because employees tend to feel a loyalty to the department they work in as opposed to the organization as a whole. Informal communication with other departments will help them see the broader picture.
Interpersonal skills are encouraged. People are encouraged to speak up and say what is on their minds. When teams form and meet, diferent people take turns at being the team leader. Communication on all levels is encouraged. When I am called into a company to bring employees and management closer together, I find the two issues that stand in the way are trust and communication. Actually, they go hand in hand. If employees do not trust management, they will be very reluctant to communicate how they feel. However, when employees are encouraged to speak up, again, without fear of punishment or retribution, and what they say is taken seriously, they start to trust management. Once trust is established, employees and management start to work from a position of shared values and a shared vision. When that happens, it's a beautiful sight to see!!!
What are your thoughts on this subject. I would love to hear from you. If you believe you work for an innovative organization, what are some of the characteristics that make it innovative? If you have a challenge or issue you would like to see discussed, let me know. I learn just as much from you as you learn from me. If you wish to pass this Newsletter along to a colleague who may find it of value, feel free to do so. If that person would like to receive the Newsletter, e-mail me with the address, and I will put it on my database. Have a wonderful month, and if you are going on vacation, have a great one.
About the Author
Barbara Mintzer is a nationally recognized speaker and consultant with over 30 years in business and health care. She speaks from experience! Her how-to programs provide participants with immediately applicable skills and strategies for getting buy-in and commitment from staff and staying on top of their professions in today's competitive and constantly changing workplace. Barbara presents keynote talks and breakout sessions for international, national, regional and state Conferences. She also conducts management retreats and in-house seminars. She facilitates panel discussions and roundtables at the same meeting...a good investment for your meeting budget. To explore the possibility of having Barbara speak at your next event, or work with your staff/leadership team, please contact her office.
1. Celebrate failure: OK, that’s not really accurate. No one really celebrates failure. But they do celebrate the attempts at successful innovation. They do not consider an idea that does not end up as a rousing success as “career ending”. And they always seek to learn from these pursuits. They encourage employees to introduce new ideas and to always look at what they are doing with an eye towards doing it better.
2. Supportive atmosphere: Innovative organizations provide an open environment with the freedom to kick around and explore ideas – even seemingly crazy ones. These offices often have white boards, flipcharts, markers, conference tables everywhere to encourage on-the-spot creativity. Meetings are usually not boring and sometimes include laughter as crazy ideas are discussed and debated.
3. Open culture: These organizations encourage people to get to know each other across the company. After all, it’s not just a marketing person, or a salesperson, or an engineer that will bring a great new idea to market. It’s a cross-disciplinary team working together.
4. Openness with customers: And I don’t just mean a once per year satisfaction survey. I’m talking about proactively inviting customers to talk openly about company performance and provide ideas and input into developing new products and services. Ask them to participate in product and service design, development, and testing.
5. Market knowledge: In innovative organizations, everyone knows who the organization’s target markets are, who their customers are (and their needs), and who their competitors are. They know the organization’s products and services and how they compare to those of their competitors. They keep abreast of market trends – and the leadership team actively helps them stay up to date.
6. Clear mission/vision: Employees of innovative organizations really understand the organization’s mission and vision – and can live within (and sometimes push the boundaries of) them. This is a result of a culture that involves them in strategic thinking. New ideas are “tested” against this strategic vision to see whether the new idea moves the organization closer to that vision.
7. Set employee expectations: Innovative organizations expect employees to come up with good ideas. Often it’s actually built into the hiring and measurement processes. These organizations look for ways to identify prospective employees who are not just experienced and technically competent in what they do, but also demonstrate a spark of creativity, a willingness to take risks, to offer ideas, and are comfortable in an open, creative environment. These are the people who are willing to be the first to draft a document that others will review, revise, and edit. These are the people who may begin a sentence with “This may sound crazy but what if we….”. Employees are encouraged to help recruit like-minded people.
8. Broad-perspective employees: Employees bring their different perspectives, their different talents, and different mindsets. They might come from differing backgrounds, different academic disciplines, even different industries. They are open to exploring and adapting new ideas – from almost anywhere. They also don’t feel constrained by what has been tried before.
creativity and innovation, the former being the generation of ideas and the latter its implementation.
In this era of globalization and competition, creativity and
innovation are considered to be key factors for survival, success and excellence of organizations
While creativity is generally of three types, viz. individual creativity, group/team creativity and organizational creativity.
Likewise, innovation is also classified as incremental innovation and radical innovation.
Organizational climate, organizational culture, leadership style, resource and skill,
and structure and systems are five factors that affect organizational creativity .
Innovation friendly strategy, structure, top management style, middle management support
and effective modes of managing innovation are five factors that affect organizational innovation.
Knowledge and learning play critical roles in quality creation and value innovation.
Resources & Skills
Time, Money &
Top Mgmt. Style
Which creates Innovation
WHICH IS CONTINUOUS /RADICAL
Case Study on Popy Umbrella Mart
Popy umbrella mart, an SME (Small and Medium Enterprise) located at Alleppey (known as
Venice of the east) in Kerala is a national leader in umbrella and a success story for creativity and
innovation. The mission of Popy is to continually improve its products and services to meet the
customer’s needs. Its daily production varies from 9600 to 12000 umbrellas, which represents
only half the demand expected in and outside Kerala. Popy removed its website from the internet
on account of inability to meet the additional demand created through the internet from India and
Structure & systems
Teams & Groups
CI & BPR
Top Mgmt Style,
Middle Mgmt Support,
Modes of Innovation
Policy & Strategy
Impact on society
Popy was the first company to be awarded the coveted ISO 9001 certification, for its excellence
in the process of umbrella manufacturing. Popy bagged the prestigious “Rajeev Gandhi National
Quality Award” in the year 1999 for its continuous innovation for bringing variety of products
and its excellent process of umbrella manufacturing. Popy has exhibited exceptional brilliance in
bringing quality products, product innovation, marketing of its products, meeting competition and
understanding and dealing with culture of customers and employees in Kerala. The long years of
experience of V.T.Skariah, the managing director, and modern management inputs from son
Davis, an MBA holder, has helped Popy to build up a culture of innovation in their organization.
They have diagnosed areas where improvement was necessary, identified parts manufacturers in
India and abroad, understood the empowerment requirement of their employees for creativity and
innovation, as well as understood the culture of employees and customers of Kerala. Regular
interactions with kids and children along with inputs from cartoon films have enabled them to
design innovative umbrellas for kids and children. Popy’s creative advertisements have enabled
them to capture 50% market share of Indian market for umbrellas. Popy’s product specifications
was selected by ISI as a benchmark for Indian umbrellas; as other umbrella manufacturers could
not satisfy these specifications, competitors of Popy gradually disappeared from the market. Popy
gave full freedom for its employees for nurturing their creativity and innovation. But at the same
time each product is given a serial number and a register is maintained on who assembled the
product and made the stitching etc. This appears to match Peters and Waterman’s suggestion of
freedom with accountability.
Popy has its Research and Development department under the guidance of the managing director
and general administrator. They collect information about latest cartoon films and cartoon story
heroes from children who visit their showrooms. This resulted in an umbrella with cartoon
pictures, which has been hugely popular among kids. Some other innovative ideas include the AC
umbrella with ultra vibrant coating, water proof umbrella with WPWR coating, light house
umbrella which lights up when opened, godfather umbrella which can double up as walking stick,
gems umbrella made out of a single piece of cloth without any stitching, Teflon waterproof
umbrella, torch umbrella which can be used as a torch light in the night, comic umbrella with
cartoon pictures, five fold Nokia umbrella which look like a cellular phone etc. Umbrella
manufacturing in Popy is highly labour intensive. Popy has gone for automation under the
leadership of Davis but the product quality is yet to reach the level obtained by manual
Children Teenager Men Women 60+
Age 7-9 Age 10-12 Age 12-15
Popy’s outsourcing to family units satisfies the self-leadership and prestige need of the people of
Kerala. The strategy is to provide raw materials and to get back the finished products form these
family units. This year Popy has been declared the best liked product in Kerala after Milma (State
Milk Marketing). The presence of a competitor, John’s Umbrella Mart, near Popy keeps them
vigilant in terms of innovation and quality. Davis has been given full freedom by his father for
experimenting and exploration. Davis introduced the use of computers in designing innovative
umbrellas, as well as introduced automation in umbrella manufacturing. Popy is planning to start
a factory in Chennai for umbrella manufacturing and intend to increase the number of family
production units in Kerala to increase production to meet the demand.
Every consumer with a Popy umbrella in his hand is an advertiser. Popy converted umbrella
selling in India to an industry of repute. Earlier, the umbrella industry was not considered for
recognition and reward. Popy takes good care of its employees, through welfare programs for its
employees, financial support at the time of employees’ house construction, marriage of
employees’ daughters, children’s education etc. Popy is also involved in a social welfare society
for mentally retarded children. For Popy, the manner in which they accomplish their mission is as
important as the mission itself. Popy considers its employees as its source of strength in providing
corporate intelligence and determine their reputation and vitality. Commitment and teamwork are
their core human values.
Based on the literature findings, as well as findings from the case, it is possible to prepare an
instrument to measure creativity and innovation of an organization and to find out the relationship
between creativity, innovation and competitive excellence. For measuring excellence it is
proposed to use the instrument used by the various Quality Models. It is also suggested that the
present instrument to measure excellence is no longer valid as a tool to measure competitive
excellence as it does not contain measures of creativity and innovation, which are instrumental in
making an organization competitive in this time of competition and globalization. The case
reinforces the postulate that various determinants of creativity and innovation such as strategy,
structure, culture, leadership, context, climate, technology etc help to bring out innovative and
quality products in their journey towards excellence.