Idea Development

Unlike idea generation which is greatly stimulated by external contacts, idea development is dependent on the organizational culture and processes within the organization. Organizational characteristics, values, and processes can support or inhibit the development and uses of creative ideas. Commitment to the rational problem solving approached discussed increases the likelihood that high quality creative ideas will be recognized and developed fully.

The organizational structure also plays an important role. Rigid organizational structures that inhibit communication between departments will often keep potentially helpful people from even knowing that a problem exists. By creating barriers to communication rigidly structured organizations may also prevent problem solutions from reaching managers who need them. Management information systems (MIS) decision support systems (DDS)and expert systems store and retrieve generated ideas and aid managers in idea development. Recent advances in the networking of such systems are especially helpful for integrative problem solving.

Implementation: The implementation stage of the creative process in organizations consists of those steps that bring a solution or invention to the marketplace. For manufactured goods, these steps include engineering, tooling, manufacturing, test marketing and promotion. While a high rate of innovation often reduces short term profitability, it is crucial for long term growth. For example, the Swiss watch industry which operates by traditional practices and old fashioned individual craftsmanship has been in decline since the mid 1970s when more innovative competitors introduced new products such as digital watches into the market. When Swiss Watchmakers recently introduced new products such as the popular, inexpensive Swiss wristwatch, they were able to regain part of a market that had appeared to be lost to them.

For innovation to be successful, a high degree of integration is required among the various units of the organization. Technical specialists responsible for the engineering side of a new product must work with administrative and financial specialists responsible for keeping the cost of innovation within practical limits. Production managers helping to refine the specifications of the new product, must work with marketing managers, who are responsible for test marketing, advertising and promoting it. Proper integration of all these groups is necessary for a quality innovation to be produced on time, on budget, and for a viable market. Managers at organizations that are too rigidly structured may have a difficult time integrating such activities. In contrast, frequent and informal communication across an organization has been shown to have positive effects on innovation. For this reason, task forces and matrix type organizational structures which encourage interdepartmental communication and integration are particularly suited for generating, developing and implementing creative ideas and approaches.

Establishing a climate or organizational creativity and innovation:

As we have seen creativity is best nurtured in a permissive climate, one that encourages the exploration of new ideas and new ways of doing things. Many managers find it difficult to accept such as climate. They may be uncomfortable with a continuing process of change, which is the essential accompaniment of creativity they may also be concerned that a permissive atmosphere encourages the breakdown of discipline or cost control.

Promotion creativity through culture at Xerox:

At Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) organizational culture posed a potential obstacle to creativity. When Xerox chief scientist John Seely Brown, Ph.D took over PARC in 1988 he found that the existing culture did not support continued radical innovation. Together with Elise Walton, Director at Delta Consulting Group, he has worked toward building a more appropriate cultural architecture, the starting point was a plan called Xerox 2000, which provide a strategic view of where the organization would be in the year 2000. Anthropologists were hired to study the organization. They uncovered many interesting discrepancies. For example, Xerox came face to face with what Brown calls the ‘notion of a double blind – self canceling self selling of beliefs. Xerox articulates commitment to teamwork as evidenced by part of the company’s logo, Team Xerox yet hero-worshipping is deeply embedded in the corporate culture. These inherently opposite cultural tenets caused dysfunctional behavior that worked against creativity. Management aimed therefore at adjusting the organizational ‘hardware’ – structure rewards, incentives and so on and launched the new organization through a program dubbed “Good Start”. The key challenge is a dichotomy asserted Brown. Keep the restructuring as simple as possible, but realize that the details matter. The result is an organization comprising many new employees and many old employees in brand-new positions but united by a common culture developed to be more supportive of rapid innovation.

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