Learning for Innovation
One commonly asked question about innovation is about teaching it. It is true to say that without practicing the observing and listening skills, empathy ceases to exist. At the base of innovation, experimenting is important as a factor that leads to a successful invention. Therefore, a great innovator must be ready to learn, said Wagner (2012). However, the kind of learning involved in innovation is not the classroom set-up kind of learning; it is a learning incorporating other avenues. To understand these avenues for learning innovation, we can relate to the Australian Red Cross in the way it fosters and creates an atmosphere to learn innovativeness.
In its quest to create an innovative environment, the Australian Red Cross uses a number of avenues. To start with, the organization is committed to a mission that matters. By standing for something that they care, the stakeholders of this organization are motivated towards learning new ways in which they can accomplish their mission. The mission of the Australian Red Cross includes an aspect of “improving the lives of vulnerable people through the services delivered.” The commitment to such a mission enhances the need to learn new ways of realizing the mission more efficiently and effectively.
Another aspect of learning innovation is striving for progressive innovation rather than strategizing on instant perfection, as Wojcicki (2011) says. The Australian Red Cross launched its branch of the blood donation otherwise the Australian Red Cross Blood Service back in 1929. It was working relatively well but not with adequate efficiency as anticipated. However, every year since then, continuous ideas of improving that service kept flowing. The model of that service underwent numerous iterations year after year until a proper model emerged. Finally, in 1996 the Australian Red Cross Blood Service restarted: and is a success up to now.
Still on avenues of learning innovation, Wojcicki (2011) emphasizes on the need to look for ideas from all possible sources. What this means is that an organization should not limit the source of innovative ideas from just one side: the management’s opinion. It is important to put into consideration that the success of every organization heavily relies on the cumulative weight of all ideas generated by all its vital stakeholders all the way from those in its internal environment to those in the external environment. In the light of this, it is important for the Australian Red Cross to incorporate the ideas varying from the consumers of its services, its management, the public, the government and its agencies, and the collaborating partner companies. In so doing, the chances of embracing and learning how to be innovative surfaces automatically.
According to the ethical theory of justice and fairness, all stakeholders in an organization who share a common feature should be entitled to similar treatment. In this respect, it is good to share every bit of information among such parties. In the light of the above, the Australian Red Cross should commit to the habit of letting all its employees and close associates and partners of every decision made by the organization’s top management. Sharing such information encourages discussion, exchange of ideas and different interpretation of ideas. This leads to creative and innovative outcomes.
The extent of an organization’s ability to continuously innovate and enact change majorly relies on the above factors. In addition, the organization culture as far as innovation is concerned also reflects on the organization’s future innovative capacity. In the Australian Red Cross, the management has promoted a culture of innovation. From the timeline of the organization’s activities and changes, it is evident that it is bound to continue the pursuit of developing and implementing innovative change. Over time, the management has, encouraged new ideas from various sources, looked ahead, carried out experiments, allowed ventures in unplanned opportunities, and encouraged common goal existence in all departments. According to Kanter (2013), these are principles that encourage the surfacing of innovation. With this being the innovation record of the Australian Red Cross, it is evident that this organization has a future as far as implementation of innovative change is concerned. This is an assurance that its services have a going on concern in addition to being successful, injects Greve (2013).
Issues on Potential Change Management
Innovation and change go hand in hand. This is because innovation essentially incorporates change of situations. However, innovative change is not a random occurrence. Since it involves a deviation from what was normal, it happens in a systematic manner. Otherwise, it will result to a distortion of the normal working procedures. With respect, the implementation of innovative change follows a procedural process that enhances a smooth transition between the old and the new activities. The change management process thus incorporates a sequence of activities and events followed by a change management leader in the verge of applying change to a project or in the management. In general, the change management process contains the following main phases as analyzed by Evans (2010).
The first phase involves the preparation for change. In this phase, the key considerations include the definition of the change management process, preparing the tea responsible to manage this change, and developing a sponsorship model through which change management team will base its operations. The second phase includes actual change management. In this stage, there is the development of change management plans. Once the plans are set, the management team then takes the appropriate actions towards implementing those plans. Lastly, the third, and the last phase sets in: reinforcing change. In this stage, the main activity is collecting and analyzing the feedback from phase two. This helps in diagnosing the present gaps as well managing any surfacing resistance. Once in this stage, it is time to implement the corrective remedies and the change successfully takes effect.
In as much as change is a good factor in considering the success and long-term existence of an organization, its effective implementation is subject to a number of factors. There are barriers and motivators of effective change. The leading motivators of behavioral change include social networks. This consists of connections among people: fellow employees, trusted colleagues, mentor experts, activists, and work teams. By engaging all in the change motions, one enhances a broader acceptance to the changes due. Another motivator is the value of the change to individuals. It is important to match the incentives to the people who are vital in shaping the change to a long lasting and genuine effect. It is also important to include the employees in decision-making process to bring about successful change. With the inclusion of employees, management invites meaningful participation and a broad perspective before implementing changes and that helps in shaping the change, notes Krigsman (2011). Another major motivator of change is the kind of leadership present in the organization. This involves understanding the need for change, its direction, and mobilizing the agents of that change. This in the overall emphasizes the importance of undertaking that change and reflecting on the role of the employees.
In as much as there is need for rapid management and organization change in today’s business organizations, it is important to note that it is not always smooth trying to implement this change. There exist a number of barriers. To start with, we have the inadequacy in culture shift planning. This means that most companies fail to foresee and plan for any cultural change. The companies plan for changes in work placement, reporting structures, job responsibilities and administration structures quite often. They even revise organizational charts repeatedly. However, failure to plan for cultural changes makes it easy to forget the fact that the planned change will have a level of effects to the people. This overlooking of tradition reduces the chances of accepting this change.
Another hindrance is lack of employee involvement in decision-making. If a decision happens against their will or without their knowledge, it will be very hard for them to adapt and they will end up undermining the change thus promoting it failure in proper implementation. They will be afraid to fail in the new roles as defined by the implemented change. It is not until the employees understand the reasons behind the changes that they are able to have an opportunity to try it and get to readily support and accept it.
Communication strategies are also important. When flawed, they cause detrimental effects in the change implementation process, wrote Hodges (2007). Ideal communication, internal or external, while in the process of strategizing for organizational change must reflect on the message, its delivery mode, message content, and the importance it bears one shared with various stakeholders in the organization. It is important for the management to understand that people need to know why a certain change happens, and most importantly, the effect of that change once it takes effect. A possible key to a successful communication of a change plan is using a strategy that engages direct supervision and allowing the people to manage both the internal and the external communication process.
Change and innovation go hand in hand. Innovation measures always involve the implementation of some changes. In today’s world, the success of business ventures alongside the going on concern of the organizations, are governed by the frequency and tendency of innovative change implemented. This is true even for the not-for-profit organizations. As a not-for-profit organization operating in the community service sector, the Australian Red Cross is a good example to show how innovative change is good for survival of an organization, its profit orientation notwithstanding. The Australian Red Cross is almost one hundred years old. It started with simple operations in 1914 with the onset of World War I. during it hey days, its operations were only limited to a small part of Australia. However, through incorporation of management and organization change alongside undertaking innovative measures, this company has successfully expanded its operations to meet all needs of vulnerable communities in the entire Australia and even beyond the border, when necessary.
- Connolly, B. (2012, October 24). Charity to replace disparate applications and databases with single ERP system to improve retail and fundraising services. Retrieved May 14, 2013, from cio.com: http://www.cio.com.au/article/440075/australian_red_cross_gets_3m_it_boost_/
- Evans, J. (2010, December 14). The Change Management Process: Accomplishing Change and Making it Stick. Retrieved May 15, 2013, from Method Frameworks: http://www.methodframeworks.com/article/change-management-process-accomplishing-change-and-making-it-stick/index.html
- Greve, N. (2013, March 15). Dynamic logistics innovation key to business survival – Survey. Retrieved May 15, 2013, from Engineering News: http://www.engineeringnews.co.za/article/dynamic-logistics-innovation-key-to-business-survival-survey-2013-03-15
- Hodges, G. (2007, June 22). The Three Greatest Barriers to Organizational Change. Retrieved May 15, 2013, from Ezine Articles: http://ezinearticles.com/?The-Three-Greatest-Barriers-to-Organizational-Change&id=622461
- Jaruzelski, B., Loehr, J., & Holman, R. (2011, October 25). The Global Innovation 1000: Why Culture Is Key. Retrieved May 14, 2013, from strategy+business: http://www.strategy-business.com/article/11404?gko=dfbfc
- Kanter, R. M. (2013, January 15). Nine Rules for Stifling Innovation. Retrieved May 15, 2013, from Havard Business Review: http://blogs.hbr.org/kanter/2013/01/nine-rules-for-stifling-innova.html
- Krigsman, M. (2011, April 13). The five motivators of successful change. Retrieved May 15, 2013, from ZDNet: http://www.zdnet.com/blog/projectfailures/the-five-motivators-of-successful-change/12931
- Marlene, F. C. (1991). Managing Culture as a Competitive Resource: An Identity-Based View of Sustainability. Journal of Management , 191.
- Martins, E., & Martins, N. (2002). An Organisational Culture Model To Promote Creativity And Innovation. SA Journal of Industrial Psychology , 58-65.
- Melville, D. R. (2008 ). Communities Capability and the Vulnerable. Retrieved May 13, 2013, from fahcsia.gov.au: http://www.fahcsia.gov.au/our-responsibilities/communities-and-vulnerable-people/publications-articles/token-participation-to-engaged-partnerships-lessons-learnt-and-challenges-ahead-for-australian-not-for-profits#a4
- Pennington, S. (2012, October 23). Red Cross gets a tech transfusion. Retrieved May 14, 2013, from The Sydney Mornig Herald: http://www.smh.com.au/it-pro/business-it/red-cross-gets-a-tech-transfusion-20121022-2818p.html
- Phillips, J. (2010, December 14). Innovation and Strategic Alignment. Retrieved May 14, 2013, from Innovate On Purpose: http://innovateonpurpose.blogspot.com/2010/12/innovation-and-strategic-alignment.html
- The Economist Newspaper NA, Inc. (2013). The debate about dwindling innovation: From our readers. The Economist (Online) .
- Wagner, T. (2012, April 20). Can Innovation Skills Be Learned? Retrieved May 14, 2013, from edutopia.org: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/creating-innovators-tony-wagner
- Weber, D. (2000). Industry observation: A word about innovation. Semiconductor International , 100.
- Wojcicki, S. (2011, July). The Eight Pillars of Innovation. Retrieved May 15, 2013, from Think Insight -Google: http://www.google.com/think/articles/8-pillars-of-innovation.html
- Workforce Council. (2013). Community Services Industry. Retrieved May 14, 2013, from workforce.org.au: http://www.workforce.org.au/media/112765/communityservices.pdf
Before you go, you are invited to support a noble cause on IndieGoGo: