innovation (e.g., organization design, strategic orienta- tion, and human resource systems). Excellent discus- sions of those factors are reviewed in sources such as De Graff and Lawrence (2002), McMillan (1985), Tichy
, Tushman and Anderson (1997), Van de Ven
, and Amabile (1988). Instead, we will focus on
activities in which individual managers can engage that foster innovation. Table 8 summarizes three manage- ment principles that help engender innovativeness and creative problem solving among others.
Pull People Apart; Put People Together
Percy Spencer’s magnetron project involved a con- sumer product closeted away from Raytheon’s mainline business of missiles and other defense contract work. Spence Silver’s new glue resulted when a polymer adhesive task force was separated from 3M’s normal activities. The Macintosh computer was developed by a task force taken outside the company and given space and time to work on an innovative computer. Many new ideas come from individuals being given time and resources and allowed to work apart from the normal activities of the organization. Establishing bullpens, practice fields, or sandlots is as good a way to develop new skills in business as it has proven to be in athletics. Because most businesses are designed to produce the 10,000th part correctly or to service the 10,000th cus- tomer efficiently, they do not function well at produc- ing the first part. That is why pulling people apart is often necessary to foster innovation and creativity.
On the other hand, forming teams (putting people together) is almost always more productive than hav- ing people work by themselves. Such teams should be characterized by certain attributes, though. Nemeth (1986) found that creativity increased markedly when minority influences were present in the team; for example, when “devil’s advocate” roles were legit- imized, a formal minority report was always included in final recommendations, and individuals assigned to work on a team had divergent backgrounds or views. “Those exposed to minority views are stimulated to attend to more aspects of the situation, they think in more divergent ways, and they are more likely to detect novel solutions or come to new decisions” (Nemeth, 1986: 25). Nemeth found that those positive benefits occur in groups even when the divergent or minority views are wrong. Similarly, Janis (1971) found that narrowmindedness in groups (dubbed groupthink) was best overcome by establishing com- peting groups working on the same problem, participa- tion in groups by outsiders, assigning a role of critical evaluator in the group, having groups made up of cross- functional participants, and so on. The most productive groups are those characterized by fluid roles, lots of interaction among members, and flat power structures.
Innovativeness can be fostered when individuals are placed in teams and when they are at least tem- porarily separated from the normal pressures of organi- zational life. Teams, however, are most effective at gen- erating innovative ideas when they are characterized by attributes of minority influence, competition, het- erogeneity, and interaction. You can help foster innova-
Table 8 PRINCIPLE Three Principles for Fostering Innovativeness EXAMPLES • Let individuals work alone as well as with teams and task forces. • Encourage minority reports and legitimize “devil’s advocate” roles. • Encourage heterogeneous membership in teams. • Separate competing groups or subgroups. • Talk to customers. • Identify customer expectations both in advance and after the sale. • Hold people accountable. • Use “sharp-pointed” prods. • Idea champion • Sponsor and mentor • Orchestrator and facilitator • Rule breaker 1. Pull people apart; put people together. 2. Monitor and prod. 3. Reward multiple roles.
SOLVING PROBLEMS ANALYTICALLY AND CREATIVELY