Essential Steps for Building an Innovative Organizational Culture
Various authors list various steps for building an innovative organizational culture and give them different names although the aspects are the same. In the article ‘planning for innovation and change’ (2008) which I will refer to as the first article, the author identifies the major steps as follows. The first step is user assessment which entails understanding the user market. That is, potential users, their capabilities and their needs. The article ‘innovation and change in education’ (second article) lists identification of areas for improvement as the initial step of the change process. According to Amanda (2008) in the third article ‘innovation and change management’, he states that asking the question why something is not working is often the first step towards being able to manage change.
The first article then refers to technology assessment as the second step though it is not a major step. The second core aspect is therefore developing the transfer strategy. This refers to what methods should be used to effectively convey the most relevant information to the intended audience. The second article shows generation of possible solutions to address the issued so identified as the second step. Amanda lists identifying the limits to reflexivity as the second step. This is identifying what changes people have control over and those they don’t.
The third step is implementation according to the first article. Information dissemination which entails getting appropriate information to the right people timely fashion making effective use of user networks to transfer information. The second article identifies implementation of proposed innovations as the 3rd stage of the change process which is the most complex and difficult to achieve. Amanda’s article does not come out clearly on the third stage but it is encompassed in specialization in understanding and designing learning processes that empower communities to identify types of change. Identifying extension practitioners and other professionals who engage with external stakeholders to research change management falls under implementation.
The fourth and final step is follow-up and evaluation as listed in the first article. This is the process of eliciting feedback from users on the value of technology transfer efforts and fined out whether the program is serving user needs. The second article states that it is self evident that the implementation stage of change must be followed by evaluation and reassessment. Possibly with further amendments needed as issues of concern become identified. In the third article, the working with farmers who are instituting their own change management and learning processes is following up and evaluation of implementation.
I agree with the assessment of the author’s of the three articles as there is consistence in the aspects they have identified as the essential steps for building on innovative organizational culture. In summary, the first and second is innovation and formulation although the author’s use different names to describe the same thing and the fact that they are working from different fields brings the distinctions. The two steps refer to the identification of the issues to be addressed and coming up with methods to address the issues identified.
Implementation is the next step that follows innovation. This entails application of the strategies or methods that have been formulated to tackle the issues addressed. The three articles show how this implementation or strategies take place in the related fields. The final step is evaluation and control which is reflected unanimously in all of the three articles. This is where the progress of the change process is followed-up. This is usually to check whether the desired effects are achieved.
Ethical Aspects of Innovation and Change
Effective ethical leadership requires that leader make and follow through on at least two key commitments. They are supports to act ethically there by set an example for others in the organization. The leaders are also required to develop and promote an ethical environment within their organizations. The implication of leaders not being creative in promoting ethics and raising awareness in various ways may receive them as neutral on issues of ethics.
Leadership ethics affect organizations innovation and charge by giving anchors and stake in the ground for change. Ethics also serve as stabilizers and shield in the innovation and change process. They empower and inspire staff and management rewards encompassing innovation and change. In short, values and ethics can drive business strategy. Value and ethics help to focus on the right question and innovation and change.
Integrating ethics into the work place is no simple task were it as easy as adapting best practices from other organizations there would little need for ongoing research on topic (Stephanie Monjon 2008). Part of the challenge is the understanding why certain practices have worked in some organizations and being able to gauge whether it will work in a new organization setting.
The support of the management is critical. Largely, Leadership determines what issues receive priority within an ethics initiative in organization. In the summary active leadership ethics are essential in bringing credibility in innovation and change processes.
Leading innovators should carry out three guiding principles that drive innovation and create elegant solutions. The first one is the art of ingenuity. In order to succeed in an ever complex business world with competing pressure to innovate amidst competitive and yet manage and uncertainty, an organization has to be both artistic and scientific. Ingenuity create image of cleverness, resourcefulness, initiative, originality, innovativeness and creativity resulting to innovation. The key is to ask the question; ‘’is there a better way?’’
The second principle is the pursuit of perfection. For a business to succeed at innovation, it has to rigorously search for optimal solution that yields low-cost, low-risk & high impact breakthrough. Innovation happens though systematic pursuit of perfection of every level and every department. The third principle is the rhythm of fit, that is, fit the innovator, the times and large system. A great innovation can shape and then change the attitudes and behavior of people. The three principles create both the policy and framework for driving innovation and creating elegant solutions.
Resistance to Change
In the article by Bob Rue (2006), a manager is quoted saying that his only problem is that he cannot get anybody to do what he wants. Another person is quoted saying that in his last performance review his boss said he was not a team player because he questions and challenges too much. He says he decided to just keep quiet even when he has information that can be helpful.
Resistance to charge can be affected for a number of reasons. One of them is self-interest where someone has achieved status, privilege or self-esteem through the use of an old system. Secondly, there is fear of the unknown where people may be uncertain of their abilities to learn new skills or take up new roles. There is also the case of differing perceptions. Some people may believe that you are wrong and therefore resist change. They may view the situation from a different point of view hence oppose yours. Suspicion is another reason arising from the fact that a person may not trust you. Finally, there is conservation where simply organizations and people may be opposed to change.
Understanding the root of possible resistance to change to plan for it and overcome it before it becomes a significant obstacle. There are light steps, which could have helped to accomplish successful rather than unsuccessful outcomes. The first one is increasing urgency. The core challenge is getting people out of the banker and ready to move creating dynamic presentations with compelling objects that people can see and feel and providing evidence that change is required works.
The second step is building team. The challenge is to get the right people in place with trust, emotional commitment and teamwork to guide a very difficult change process. Attracting key change leaders by showing enthusiasm and commitment works to achieve successful outcomes.
The third step entails getting the vision right. This works through getting the guiding team through the right vision and strategies required to guide change. The fourth step is communicating the buy-in. the challenge is to get as many people to make the vision a reality. Keeping communication simple and heart- felt and use of new technologies to reach to the people should do the trick.
Empowering action is the fifth step in achieving successful outcomes. It requires removing obstacles that stop people from working on the vision. Bringing in experienced change leaders to bolster confidence that the job can be done, giving constructive feedback and helping disempowering managers to powerfully experience the need for change helps tackle the challenge.
The sixth step is creating short- term wins. The core challenge to produce enough short-term wins fast enough to energize the change helpers, enlighten the pessimists, defuse the cynics and build momentum for the effort. The remedy is to achieve cheap and easy wins that are visible, timely, unambiguous and meaningful to others.
The second last step is not letting up. The challenge faced in this step is continuing with wave after wave of change and not stopping until the vision is a reality no matter how big the obstacles. The remedy given for the sixth step also applies for this one.
The final step is making change stick. The core challenge is creating a supporting structure that provides roots for the new way of operating. Refusing to declare victory too soon, use of new employee orientation, promotion process and vivid stories to visibly reinforce the vision should be applied.
Corning’s five-stage gate process
The three articles assessed for the Corning’s five-stage gate process give the guidelines for introducing innovation into an organization. The article by Anthony Oshiotse (2007) which I will refer to it as the first article in this paper, Corning’s five-stage gate process is divided into stages. Stage one which is referred to as “building knowledge” is keen on research for building of knowledge. Stage two, “determining feasibility” focuses on collaboration between research and development teams lending to identification of high- value ideas that enter the technology pipeline. Feasibility is determined in this stage by applying research and testing with the development function taking a lead role.
Testing practically is the third stage which entails a more independently working development function to test the practicality of product and process concepts for commercialization, identifying the highest value ideas and optimizing their value proportion.
In providing profitability which is the fourth stage, engineering which is a common thread working across three disciplines namely research, development and manufacturing. Engineering takes the lead in stage four in piloting and providing profitability of the most promising major opportunities.
The final stage goes by the name managing the life-cycle. It is characterized by the smooth transition into full commercialization to capture the major opportunities.
The second article is by Dr. Roberts (2002) titled ‘optimizing the stage- gate process. This article recommends that there should be an additional stage before the first stage which is the discovery stage placed at the front and of the new product process. It is stated that a new product idea can make or break a project. The idea into the preliminary stage referred to as scoping. The idea is reviewed for the second time. If the idea is approved, it then moves through gate two to stage two which is building the business case. It then moves through the go to development gate which is gate three to the development stage. Gate four is named the go to testing gate. It ushers in the testing and validation stage. Finally, it goes through gate five to stage five where actual launch is expected to take place.
The third article addresses the critical questions for IT projects sponsors. Bernice (2008) shows stage gates as to refer to a formal review conducted at prescribed points in the projects life cycle. The purpose is to determine whether a project has an approach to proceed.
The stage-gate concept in the article includes an initial gate (gate 0) which is for assessing one opportunity against others. Gate 0 bridges the gap between ideas and initiation stage which is stage one, then follows the other gates one to five bridging the other stages. The other stages are definition development, implementation and closing stage which then pave way for post project assessment.
Analysis’s of diffusion of innovation’s theory
The article “listening to Everett Rogers: Diffusion of Innovation and WAC” by Stephanei Vanderslice (2003) identifies five essential characteristics that enhance the rate and effectiveness of diffusion. The first characteristic is about the advantage of new innovative idea to the one that is supposed to be replaced. The second characteristic entails reviewing the compatibility of the innovation with existing internal and external environment.
The third characteristics entail the ease with which the innovation can be understood and applied. The complexity level should be kept at a minimum for ease of implementation. Finally, trial ability describes the fourth and fifth characteristics. This refers to the degree the implementers can apply the innovation.
According to Walter Bagehot (2006) in the second article, “Diffusion of Innovation Theory” the innovation-decision is the process through which an individual passes through the innovation-decision process. There are five stages in this process as per the article. The first stage is knowledge of innovation. In this stage the process seeks one or more type of knowledge about the innovation. The second stage is forming an attitude toward the innovation followed by the third stage which is deciding whether to adopt of reject the innovation. The fourth stage is the implementation of the new idea and finally confirmation of the decision.
The third article by Greg Orr (2003) identifies a 5-step process in the mechanism of diffusion followed by innovation-decision. The first step is knowledge where a person becomes aware of an innovation and has an idea of its functions. The second step in persuasion where a person forms a particular attitude, either positive or negative towards the innovation. Decision is the third step where a person engages ion activities leading to a choice to adopt or reject the innovation. The second last step is implementation which entails putting the innovation into use and finally there is confirmation where evaluation of the results of the innovation-decision is made.
In all of the three articles, the stages involved in diffusion of innovation process are the same leave for the names given to the particular stages. The concepts behind the process are the same and are largely successful.
Part A: Organizational Culture and Change
Amanda Credaro ©1999, 2000, 2001. Innovation and change in education. Last retrieved from the World Wide Web on 14th March, 2008 at http://www.geocities.com/koalakid_1999/UNIVERSITY/change.HTM
PLANNING FOR INNOVATION AND CHANGE. Last retrieved from the World Wide Web on 14th March, 2008 at http://www.uwm.edu/Dept/CUTS/bench/plan.htm
LFR : Social Research. Innovation and Change Management. Melbourne University. Last retrieved from the World Wide Web on 14th March, 2008 at http://www.landfood.unimelb.edu.au/research/social/innovation/
Part B: Nature of Innovation and Change
Stephanie Monjon. (2008). The nature of innovation and the origin of technological spillovers. Last retrieved from the World Wide Web on 14th March, 2008 at http://ideas.repec.org/a/bxr/bxrceb/y2003v46i3p87-106.html
Part C: Organizations Resisting Change
Bob Rue, MS. (2006). MYERS RUE Training & Consulting. Last retrieved from the World Wide Web on 14th March, 2008 at http://www.myersrue.com/pdf/res2change.pdf
Part D: Corning’s Five-stage Gate Process
Anthony Oshiotse, Richard O’Leary. (2007). Corning creates an inclusive culture to drive technology innovation and performance. Last retrieved from the World Wide Web on 14th March, 2008 at http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/abstract/114186564/ABSTRACT?CRETRY=1;SRETRY=0
Bernice L. Rocque, At the Stage Gate: Critical Questions for IT Project Sponsors. Last retrieved from the World Wide Web on 14th March, 2008 at http://www.3houses.com/docs/PMI%202004%20Proceedings%20Paper%20FINAL.pdf
Dr. Robert G. Cooper (2002). Optimizing the Stage-Gate Process What Best Practice Companies are Doing. Research Technology Management (Industrial Research Institute, Inc.) Volume 45, Number 5. Last retrieved from the World Wide Web on 14th March, 2008 at http://www.eicc.edu/internal/chancellors_initiatives/innovative%20team/Best%20Practice%20Part%201.pdf
Part E: Everett Rogers’ Diffusion of Innovation Theory
Greg Orr (2003). Diffusion of Innovations, by Everett Rogers (1995). Last retrieved from the World Wide Web on 14th March, 2008 at http://www.stanford.edu/class/symbsys205/Diffusion%20of%20Innovations.htm
Stephanie Vanderslice (2003). Listening to Everett Rogers: Diffusion of Innovations and WAC. Last retrieved from the World Wide Web on 14th March, 2008 at http://wac.colostate.edu/llad/v4n1/vanderslice.pdf
Walter Bagehot (2006). Diffusion of Innovation Theory. Last retrieved from the World Wide Web on 14th March, 2008 at http://www.ciadvertising.org/studies/student/98_fall/theory/hornor/paper1.html