Organizational Control and Innovation
Does organizational control impede or support Innovation?
Every organization has to have control mechanism, which would vary across different organizations. Organizations face a challenge to determine what level of control they want on their innovation programs. High control can lead to lack of initiative and creativity; low control could lead to chaos. How can organizations handle this challenge?
Innovation comprises of two elements - 'generation of ideas' and 'implementation of ideas' which lead to delivering greater value to the organization.
The 'generation of ideas' requires the organization to provide an eco-system to the employees and outsiders (customers, suppliers, others) to be creative, to share freely ideas for new products, processes or other innovations. This eco-system needs to have low control, more de-centralized decision making on use of resources to conduct quick validity tests on ideas.
The 'implementation of Ideas' would, however, not be effective as the lack of control could lead to low level of collaboration across functions. The various teams could be more interested to pursuing their own ideas instead of those of other teams. This would lead to slow, even unsuccessful, execution. To identify ideas which meet organizational objectives, and not just personal or team passions, and then to ensure that resources and collaboration are directed effectively to these ideas would need centralized and formal decision making. The control would be greater.
An organization, therefore, needs to be 'ambidextrous'. It needs to provide a more flexible, free and decentralized environment to encourage creativity and, at the same time, it needs to bring in control and centralized decision making to pursue execution of the selected ideas. Those organizations which create this dual, seemingly paradoxical, environments would have an advantage to succeed at innovation.
'Commercialising Innovation Idea'....?!
I have been meeting companies and making them aware of my newly started consulting under the name of 'TARU Innovations'. When I present my visiting card at the meetings most people ask the following:
- What does 'TARU' mean?
- What does 'Commercialising Innovation' mean?
The first one is answered quickly. ‘TARU’ means Tree in Hindi language. Tree grows slowly and requires lot of nurturing, but once on its roots(and stem) it continues to grow in sustainable manner, with long term rewards and capability to connect many in the ecosystem. This is possible as the roots are firmly anchored in ground (realities). Innovation (sustainable, long term) is like growing a tree – starts small, is vulnerable but if grounded in business reality it grows into a big entity and lasts over a long period of time.
Now what is the relevance of ‘Commercialising Innovation’ as the descriptor of what we do.
Innovation Idea is valuable when it generates profitable growth. We at TÂRU Innovations work with companies to develop and execute the Innovation Idea such that it leads to ‘profitable’ ‘growth’. The key words are ‘growth’ and ‘profitable’.
Many would say Innovation is to be pursued so as to achieve better connect with consumers, or generate distinct product, or create competitive advantage, or for many more such objectives. True these are all important and essential for growth and Innovation is critical to pursue these objectives. However growth without the value(profit) is not sustainable. Hence, Innovation would not play the right role until it eventually leads to this final objective for business. In other words, we do not let Innovation give the clients only competitive advantage, or better connect with consumer but as well challenge ourself (and clients) to use Innovation to go further and generate more profits for business – for long term.
What do you think?….
'Missile' or 'Tree'; How does your company view Innovation?
'Missile' a fast moving object with tremendous power to lift up and scale great heights; grabs lot of attention with its spectacle; hi tech (now more than ever); but also time bound usually shortlived, expensive and difficult to manage if it goes out of control.
'Tree' grows slowly and requires lot of nurturing, but once on its roots (& stem) is sustainable, with long term rewards and capability to connect many in the ecosystem.
So what form does innovation take at your company?
Missile – a fast moving object with tremendous power to lift up and scale great heights; grabs lot of attention with its spectacle; hi tech (now more than ever); but also time bound usually shortlived, expensive and difficult to manage if it goes out of control.
Tree – grows slowly and requires lot of nurturing, but once on its roots (& stem) is sustainable, with long term rewards and capability to connect many in the ecosystem.
So what form does innovation take at your company? Is it spectacular, fast and furious like a missile but as well ending in a quick/sudden death or perhaps turning into an ‘un manageable’ , lose making venture?
Or is it like growing a Tree. Starts small, almost vulnerable and not seen by many as of any significance, requiring great nurturing, but once it has come of age, it is to be reckoned with, it provides a long term returns and links meaningfully with all entities of the business.
The answer would also reflect the senior management view of Innovation and its role in the business.
Missile (or spectacle) could reflect the urge to do something which gets many and quick eyeballs and alongwith it collective and individual awe. It is truly a heady feeling when many praise this.
Tree to me reflects that company wants to make money and for long term and are therefore, willing to invest time and efforts required. Not be enamoured by the glamour. The awe which comes much later(oh it does) but it is acompanied with sense of appreciation.
I believe in Tree and that is why I have named my consulting ‘TARU Innovations’. ‘TARU’ is Tree in Hindi language. We help companies commercialise innovation by providing consulting and management resources required to take an innovation idea from ‘mind’ to ‘market’ and therafter for atleast one year.