Innovation Culture Horibe, F. ). Creating Book Review

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¶ … Innovation Culture

Horibe, F. (2001). Creating the Innovation Culture. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

The Need for Innovation - Modern business structures are so highly complex and competitive that the old paradigm -- improving efficiency and the bottom line, is no longer all it takes to be successful. Instead, continued reinvention of both the company's product line and industry capabilities is not only necessary, but will help decide which companies succeed and which fail. Too, because the half-life of technology is so short, radical and category breaking innovation is needed not just to compete, but to provide the global environment with positive growth.

Talking Points

Innovation is the key to long-term, sustained growth.

Innovation must be radical, not incremental -- take a chance and do something. Not everything will stick or be profitable, but being timid is not an option.

Motorola, for example, was timid about moving from analog to digital and therefore completely lost its edge and market share in the cellular phone market.

Some companies are good innovators, most are not -- and innovation is a learned skill.

The true test of any organization's success in strategic planning and innovation is getting a new product or service to market.

Struggling with innovation is natural, and actually encouraged. If it were easy, everyone would do it and there would be too many new products for the market to absorb.

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Chapter 2- the Efficiency-Innovation Dichotomy- Unfortunately, innovation does not always have a cogent pattern for every situation. Sometimes it is trial and error. More often than not, companies and individuals see innovation as being synonymous with efficiency, which is definitely not the case. In struggling to continually make their group more efficient, then, they often kill any chance for innovation. Goal orientation and efficiency are not the same thing.

Talking Points

Oddly, while trying to make American business more efficient, we have inadvertently done the opposite -- created organizations that are wary of innovation.

TOPIC: Book Review on Innovation Culture Horibe, F. (2001). Creating the Assignment

Even a visionary organization can actually prevent innovation from succeeding.

Efficient managers can also quell innovation in their struggle for continued efficiency and organizational methodology.

Sometimes work groups that are put together in order to be innovative stifle innovation by a status quo "group-think."

Sometimes it is simply not possible to innovate on everything; some products and services, frankly, demand that one does not.

The desired culture is one in which innovation occurs because of the culture and not in spite of it.

Organizations in America have been harping on efficiency for three decades -- it has worked, not it is time to become more innovative.

Chapter 3 -- the Need for Dissent -- in most cases, innovation is not clean, neat, and pretty. Instead, by its very nature, it is disruptive to the patterns and procedures within an organization. Often, this disruption takes the form of dissent -- meaning that individuals prefer to go in a different direction or pattern than the status quo. The difficulty for most managers, and all levels, is to encourage dissent without feeling threatened by it. As the axiom of a wise CEO said, "I don't shoot messengers -- that's why I have them."

Talking Points

Organizations that do not allow dissent inadvertently discourage innovation.

Speaking truth to the powers that be is an important component of innovation.

An innovative culture must begin at the top -- it can end at the top by being squelched prior to even occurring.

Self-sabotaging patterns are rife in American business, even encouraged by some authors and business schools. Of course not overtly, but covertly by asking the individual to pay more attention to the system than the product.

Many mangers feel that dissent will create chaos and anarchy.

In fact, managing dissent can sometimes make the organization healthier.

The amount of dissent that a manager allows is based on a number of things: type of industry, expertise of the dissenter, manner and appropriateness of the material, and venue.

There is a reason that the children's tale, "The Emperor's New Clothes," remains popular and understood as an archetype.

Chapter 4 -- the Nature of Dissent in Organizations- Human nature being what it is, dissent does not always stay confined to areas that managers and owners find agreeable or even acceptable. However, the human psyche works in a way that it is typically "all or nothing" when giving an opinion. It is not typically possible to find an organizational culture that encourages dissent and free thinking -- but only in limited subjects defined by management. If we think of Animal Farm, and the quote, "All animals are equal, some just more equal than others," we find a perfect analogy for those organizations that think they are being innovative by allowing "certain topics" to be discussed, only to find that by setting up these structures they have sent the message that only certain topics may be broached. Dissent is often "managed" by: 1) arguing with the dissenter; 2) listening but not hearing; 3) laughing it off; 4) ignoring; 5) masking the issue; 6) forbidding talk of the situation; and, 7) simply getting rid of the dissenter.

Talking Points-

It was really the old style of management in a manufacturing economy that caused a rather sophisticated system of continued suppression of dissent.

Dissent is on a continuum and can certainly be unwelcome, impolite, and even silly and inane.

Keeping dissent up out in the open, though, rather than parcels of lunchroom gossip, it becomes acceptable and even welcome.

Despite allowing dissent to occur, one must clearly remember that the business must be profitable and still viable in order to continue to employee those who would dissent in the first place.

Chapter 5 -- Ways You'd Never Suppress Dissent -- Would You?- One of the most interesting things about observing managers at almost every level -- from ground floor to the corner office, is how quickly and effectively they tend to shut down dissent. In most cases, they are unaware that their body language, verbiage, or actions are doing just that. Most are surprised and believe that shutting down dissent is the last thing they want. It is important, then, to note, that it is not just the intent of the message regarding dissent, but the actual words, tone, timbre, and interpretation. In this case, it is more important to understand how the message is perceived as opposed to how it is given.

Talking Points-

Shooting the messenger sends a signal company wide -- management cannot tolerate hearing bad news.

Sending mixed-messages promotes a "see no evil," "hear no evil," "speak no evil," therefore status quo, culture.

To NOT apologize creates a climate that drives dissent underground -- mistakes are not acknowledged or considered areas of growth.

The dinosauric "playing politics," and spending more time managing one's career than doing actually work signals that secretive behavior is the way things are accomplished within the organization.

Behaviors that are abusive or intimidating will cause most individuals to simply clam up -- it sends the message that there is simply no room for discussion -- the old "my way or the highway" mentality.

Chapter 6 -- Surprising Ways to Suppress Dissent -- as we noted, there are a number of subtle signals that suppress dissent, but there are some less obvious ways to do the same thing, particularly for those managers who are pushing towards efficiency and productivity. Almost every organization, from teachers to medical professionals, has what it calls a "best practices" paradigm. What these organizations really mean by "best practices" is using knowledge management to take what was learned by trial and error in the past and making sure the same mistakes are not repeated. This, of course, is logical -- who doesn't want to profit from past errors. However, in most organizations, "best practices" then are this sterile set of ways of doing things that does not allow for much in the way of innovation or dissent.

Talking Points-

Best practices can be counter-productive for innovation.

Treating everyone equally may become translated as treating everyone the same.

Looking for people with your own skills (as a manager), values, and cultural expectations prevents you from encouraging questioning of the very values which your organization is trying to attain.

Individuals are not equal -- each is unique in learning style, ability, and in an organization that values dissent, the ideas and innovations they can embrace. Treating all equally means this uniqueness is not appreciated.

Designing a process to capture good ideas is much more effective as a random collision of ideas instead of a dedicated and organized process that by its very efficiency discourages the ideas it was most intent on capturing.

Chapter 7 -- Who Are the Dissenters- Dissenters are sometimes a double-edged sword: they can be an exciting source of innovation, information, and energy -- but they can also cause dismay and problems for managers who have other, non-dissenters, and more strict processes to manage. The key for management is to be able to… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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