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Innovation and Change in an Organization

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 0 0

The importance of innovation in an organization

Dealing with change in a management setting

It is said that the only constant thing is change. Change is inevitable. Time and events do not stand still; they are always in harmony with the rhythm of change. This is true also in organizations. However big or small, change plays a part in its success or failure, whether the change happens in the macro-level viewpoint of the organization or in its micro-level.

The organizations of today are profoundly affected by the rapidly increasing pace of change and the organizations of the future will even be more profoundly affected. Tomorrow's hospitals, government units and businesses will have to improve and increase their ability to change in modern society in order to survive (Huse & Bowditch, p.428). And in order to maximize the benefits provided change, an organization should have the capability to foresee the positive results of implementing techniques through innovation.

An organizations failure is partly caused by failing to adapt to changes in its environment. Hence, "it is demanded that firms must master the dynamics of innovation and organizational change (Tushman & O'Reilly, p. 3)."

One dynamism of innovation and change is the appreciation of simple ideas by rank and file employees. One of these ideas may be a catalyst for the giving birth of a revolutionary product. Managers in big firms prevalent today tend to resist the introduction of a product different from what they usually market. This opposition was termed by Elting Morison, a historian of technology, as "dynamic conservatism.' This can be coined also as preserving the status quo, yet this may cause the falling behind of a firm among its competitors in terms of technology; its computers having used state-of-the-art technology while the firm sulks with its obsolete tools and equipments. Adopting the practice of creative use of technology should always be encouraged.

When change is to be implemented, it must be initiated at the highest level of management because "organizational failures result from senior managers' inability to lead innovation and change (Tushman & O'Reilly, p.13)." Managers are at the helm of the organization, therefore, it is best that managers know and understand every factor that affects how an organization changes and every detail needed to effectuate these changes.

Other indispensable factors that are to be understood and evaluated comprehensively are some dynamics naturally present in every change or innovation to be undertaken. The different degrees of change these causes vary; therefore "we need to appreciate how technological change affects cycles of innovation, how industry standards emerge, how periodic changes in technology demand equivalent changes in management and organization, and how organizational culture can be a major help or hindrance in the managerial response to these changes. It is critical that managers appreciate how to avoid the pitfalls of these dynamics (Tushman & O'Reilly, p.14)."

Implementing change in an organization carries with it drawbacks that cannot be immediately dispensed with. It is pointed out that "to some degree, the downside of change is inevitable. Whenever human communities are forced to adjust to shifting conditions, pain is ever present (Kotter, p.4)."

There are common errors that often contribute to the failure of organizations to change. Yet, "these errors are not inevitable. With awareness and skill, they can be avoided and greatly mitigated (Kotter, p. 16)." To avoid these errors, it is essential to know the different elements needed for innovation and change to be successful. Initially, the head of the organization must be a supporter of a planned change; otherwise, all efforts would be worthless without his/her guidance or approval. The second element is for the organization to instill the culture of teamwork within the organization. One employee is a part of the whole; therefore, everybody must do their part in a professional manner. A major change will not be realized if only a minority number of those within the organization are willing to implement the change.

A sensible vision should be shared by all within the organization. This is said to be the most important element to be considered because "vision plays a key role in producing useful change by helping to direct, align, and inspire actions on the part of the people. Without an appropriate vision, a transformation effort can easily dissolve into a list of confusing, incompatible, and time-consuming projects that go in the wrong direction or nowhere at all (Kotter, p.9)." Change is not to be fast tracked. It takes time and calculated efforts for real transformation to be seen and felt within the organization, therefore, the element of patience must be practiced.

In support of these elements of innovation and change, certain strategies should be integrated/implemented at the micro-level of the organization considering the economic and social forces that serve as catalysts for the clamor to effectuate major changes in the organization. For one, as certain markets in different countries mature, more aggressive exporters emerge; these should be counteracted by the implementation of more effective company policies and strategies.

A need for change is also the answer conditioned upon the circumstance of international economic integration where exchange rates compete to equalize or surpass each other. Of course, the condition in the economic environment where technology plays a vital part should not be forgotten, as technology developments happen in lesser time nowadays. Organizations must always be in accord with this change.

Sources:

1) Tushman, Michaell L. & O'Reilly, Charles A.
2) Kotter, John P.
3) Huse, Edgar F., Bowditch, James L. 1977. Behavior in Organizations: A Systems Approach to Managing. Massachusetts, Addison-Wesley Publishing Company.


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