Organizational Structure, Creativity, Innovation

Organizational structure can inhibit or foster creativity and innovation. The problem with organizational structure though, is that it is resultant of many factors, including history, organic growth, strategy, operational design, product diversity, logistics, marketing, client base, supplier base and so forth. Therefore, what managers need, are not recipes for complete structural change, but insights into the properties of fostering structures that can be adapted into the existing structure.

To start, it is useful to analyze the preferred structures against the not so preferred. There are many definitions of types of organizational structure, but one example is:

a) Mechanistic structures (generally not preferred) – includes centralized control and authority, clearly defined tasks, vertical communication links, obedience to supervisors, rigidity and inflexibility.

b) Organic structures (generally preferred) – decentralization of authority, tasks loosely defined, horizontal communications, greater individual authority, flexible, adaptable.

Experience shows that the above can be misleading. For example, flat organizations are generally preferred and hierarchical ones not preferred, however, even flat organizations are in reality hierarchical.

Importantly, if we have a mechanical structure, what factors allow us to move in the right direction without wholesale change?

Some answers include:

a) Direct communication links to decision makers.

b) Communication and information flow between departments.

c) Tangible progress of ideas from problem to solution, product development to commercialization.

d) Creative teams working outside but linked into the organization, whose culture, processes etc diffuse into the existing structure.

These and other topics are covered in depth in the MBA dissertation on Managing Creativity & Innovation, which can be purchased (along with a Creativity and Innovation DIY Audit, Good Idea Generator Software and Power Point Presentation) from http: //www.managing- creativity.com

Kal Bishop, MBA

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