Organizational structure, creativity, innovation

The organizational structure can inhibit or encourage creativity and innovation. However, the problem with organizational structure is that it results from many factors including history, organic growth, strategy, operational design, product diversity, logistics, marketing, customer base, supplier base and so on. So what managers need are not recipes for complete structural changes, but insights into the properties of support structures that can be adapted into the existing structure.

To begin with, it makes sense to analyze the preferred structures versus the less preferred ones. There are many definitions of types of organizational structures, but an example is:

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

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

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

Important: If we have a mechanistic structure, what factors allow us to move in the right direction without major changes?

Some answers include:

a) Direct communication links to decision makers.

b) Communication and information flow between departments.

c) Concrete progression of ideas from problem to solution, product development to commercialization.

d) Creative teams working externally but embedded in the organization whose culture, processes, etc. diffuse into the existing structure.

These and other topics are covered in detail 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) at http://www.managing- . Creativity. com

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Cal Bishop, MBA

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