It has been a while since Henry Mintzberg developed his influential work that made us aware of the importance of structures in organization design. To my opinion, Mintzberg’s work was a refreshing change to the world of organization design that until then has been largely influenced by Taylor’s Scientific Management Approach and Henry Ford’s efficiency-based adaptation of that.
As an entrepreneur and lecturer in organization science I find myself still using Mintzberg-related terminology on a regular base: ‘professional organizations’, ‘top management’, ‘middle management’, ‘hierarchy’ or ‘organization charts’. While these terms may be common language in business and as such might be useful in having a common understanding of what we’re talking about, much of it is outdated: organization design has shifted it’s focus over time. Structures are no longer of primary focus in design organizations. In fact, building blocks as ‘middle management’ might only still exist on paper today. Let me show you how the focus of organization design has changed over the years:
In 1990 Kurzweil instantly incubated the way we think about Artificial Intelligence (AI) with his work The Age of Intelligent Machines. While there is now, almost 30 years later, still a long road ahead of us, the technology readiness level of AI is getting significantly closer and many applications are trying to implement AIs state-of-the-art features and starting to accelerate the creation of the Smart Business: AI-enabled organizations that thrive digitally, are hyperconnected (both digitally and physically), use machine learning and cognitive techniques to work smarter and that are increasingly becoming autonomous organizations. In his 2016 book the Fourth Industrial Revolution Klaus Schwab mentions 6 basic technologies that are based on AI and currently impacting business: 1) the Internet of Things (IoT), 2) Autonomous Vehicles, 3) Advanced Robotics, 4) 3D-printing, 5) new materials and 6) the biological revolution.
A few weeks ago entrepreneur Valer Pop, CEO of LifeSense Group told his startup story to us at the High Tech Campus. After having a successfull career at Holst Centre, Valer decided to start his business with just a small idea: solving unwanted urine loss. He was working on this idea at Holst Centre, but after meeting co-founder Julia Veldhuijzen, Valer and she decided to start up their own business and create specialized medical underwear to help 400 million women worldwide. Early on in the process they gathered an advisor board consisting of 100 women and involved them in the creation process, in both opinion polls and experiments. Right now, LifeSense’s product Carin is an international success. LifeSense’s goal for this year it to be the fastest growing medical company in Europe. Now that’s a goal.
Many of our students work on innovation projects for SME. When asked to organize an ‘open innovation session’, students enthousiastically start to read details about open innovation, open sessions and different ways of creating an open innovation-mindset within SME. We usually point them to the excellent work of Lee et al (2010), an article that points out that SME usually prefer to be open in the exploitative stage of an innovation process (rather then the explorative stage of innovation) and that they prefer sharing risks with strong ties such as competitors, clients and suppliers.
As a member of ISPIM, we’re proud to be part of the ISPIM 2016 Conference in Porto again.
Organised by ISPIM, and supported by ANI – Agência Nacional de Inovação (the National Innovation Office of Portugal), this event is for innovation researchers, industry executives, thought leaders and policy makers.
Understand the latest innovation management thinking in 50+ workshops, keynotes, tours and discussions
Broadcast your insights to 500 innovation experts from 50 countries
Get feedback, get published and share understanding
Traditionally, organization design (OD) is an area of expertise focused on the roles and formal structures of organizations. The main goal of OD would be to design the organization in such a way that it makes it possible for the company to reach its vision and thus facilitates the growth.
I’m in the lucky position to run into quite a few business owners, corporate directors and leaders on a daily occasion. And when talking to them about innovation – and their ambitions – it almost always comes down to one simple question: “How can we implement innovation in our organization?”. A question which seems easy to ask, but needs a complicated answer.
For quite some years already, we (as in educational institutes) have been trying to set up the best ‘creative classroom’ possibile, because we believe that it is an essential element of modern education. I believe it contributes to collaborative learning and a strong attitude towards innovation. We are not the only one, many institutes are testing educational concepts based upon collaborative workspaces, Babson College and the Design School probably the most well-known of them.
I stumbled upon the following article about the ‘design zone’ at Babson College. After some years of analysis, they conclude that these zones:
increase student participation and therefore create more positive energy;
increase personal contact between lecturers and students;
the layout can be easily adjusted to the requirements needed at the moment.
There are also some challenges:
Set-up and clean-up times take away part of lecture times;
Because of its size and layout, these rooms don’t work well for presentations (i.e. sharing knowledge);
It requires more participative teaching methods by the lecturers, which some seem to struggle with.
I have found it relieving that ‘even’ Babson College seems to deal with the same problems as we do. On the other hand, it strikes me that even there, they are still small-thinking in terms of classrooms (with walls), whereas we can easily find much better examples especially in business.
Do you know of any extraordinary collaborative workspaces that increase sharing and learning? What is your experience with this way of working?
This article indicates that the effects of anger on organizational innovation involve behavioural and cognitive facets. The behavioural effects of anger lead employees to criticize imperfection, correct errors, propose ideas boldly and take spontaneous actions. These behaviours are advantageous for asserting and evaluating ideas. The cognitive effect of anger enhances creativity and increases cognitive fluency. However, anger can cause distractions at work and hurt relationships and co-operation among co-workers. In summary, anger is beneficial for idea creation, assertion and evaluation, but is detrimental to idea implementation.
Employees in a state of companionate love tend not to criticize others and to show agreement, tolerate mistakes and worry about failure. These behavioural tendencies can damage the efficiency of idea creation, idea evaluation and prevent employees from adopting innovative ideas. However, companionate love enhances solidarity and co-operation, which is beneficial for idea implementation.
This article discusses different forms of organizational improvisation (ad-hoc, covert, provocative and managed) and relates them to organization theory. Moreover, they propose an interesting overview of different forms of improvisation (ad-hoc, covert, provocative and managed improvisation) and answering questions like: what is improvisation?, when does it take place?, how does it take place?, and how is improvisation presented?