In this paper the author will discuss the techniques for stimulating innovation. A discussion will then take place that will describe how the organization that the author works for stimulates innovation. An evaluation of the effectiveness of the techniques employed will ensue and ways improve the process of stimulating innovation will be discussed. There are many ways to stimulate innovation in the workplace. In order to detail the process of stimulating innovation in the workplace it would be most appropriate to begin with a definition of innovation.
Innovation is the process of taking a creative idea and turning it into a useful product, service, or method of operation. (Robbins, Decenzo, & Coulter, 2011, p. 205) Businesses have come to realize the importance of innovation for survival in a world of global competition. (Hage, 1999) With that said there are a fair number of external support structures that can be used to encourage innovation within an organization. The best way to move forward should be to determine what the capacity of the current organization is for innovation from within.
In other words does the organization have an innovative culture or does one need to be built? (Muriithi, 2011) In the authors’ workplace stimulating innovation had to be built from the ground up. The company that the author works for is a physician practice consisting of 25 radiologists. Doctors Richard Datzman and Jack Loudermilk founded Fort Wayne Radiology, now FWRadiology in 1950. (FWRadiology website, 2009) The physicians in and of themselves were innovators in that they brought new imaging technologies and techniques to Northeast Indiana.
For the first 50 years the company prospered with the physicians in charge and the employees following their lead. In the late 1990’s the healthcare industry began to change. The days of the physicians managing the business were replaced by more government regulation and cuts in government funded insurance programs like Medicare and Medicaid. These new regulations and cuts forced the physicians to admit that if they wanted to remain an independent business that they would have to hire people with business acumen and to training run the business.
In 2000 a CEO was hired to run the organization. His first order of business was to get the operation in the best financial shape possible given the new rules and regulations from the government. Once that was accomplished the CEO decided that in order to continue to be a company of innovation that a culture change needed to take place. In order to change the culture he had to teach the employees that innovative organizations tend to have similar cultures.
They encourage experimentation, reward both success and failures, and celebrate mistakes. (Robbins et al. , 2011, p. 206) The company that he took over was a company of followers who enjoyed the fact that their approach to their daily routine had changed very little over the past fifty years. The new CEO had to figure out a way to get his employees to think outside the box, challenge the status quo, come up with radical new ideas and execute them to achieve business success.
The initial plan was to engage the employees by helping them to understand in what areas of the company we needed them to be innovative. The CEO explained that the employees now had to do more with less. Instead of throwing money at a problem as had been done in the past this this new paradigm would not allow that solution to be employed. His first step in stimulating innovation was to hold quarterly meetings with all of the employees to help them understand the company’s financial situation and to help them understand where their ideas were needed.
The next step that was employed was to hold brainstorming sessions in which employees were encouraged to bring all of their ideas to the meeting. The CEO employed a technique called participative decision-making. This technique facilitates employers to allow or encourage employees to share or participate in organizational decision-making. (“PDM,” 2011) This allowed the employees to feel like they were a part of the solution instead of just being told what was going to happen. The rules were simple; there were no rules.
All ideas were welcome and no topic was out of bounds. The final step that the CEO took was to use teams of employees to work in groups to further develop ideas that had been brought forth in the previous sessions. A good number of innovative ideas came out of these sessions. The company was able to save money in areas that had not been previously investigated. The company also came away with a number of new and innovative ideas of how to get more customers to use our services without a significant outlay of capital.
Most of all these sessions brought the employees together as a team of like-minded individuals who now come up new and innovative ideas all the time. In evaluating the effectiveness of what the CEO did to stimulate innovation it appears that he was on the mark. In reviewing the text it says that there are thee innovation variables. These innovation variables are; structural variables, cultural variables, and human resource variables. (Robbins et al. , 2011, p. 206) The first two were employed and used by the CEO in a similar fashion as described by the textbook.
In the Authors opinion the one area that could be improved upon are to promote training and development of the staff so that the knowledge base of the employees remains current. In the early stages this idea could be considered cost prohibitive. It would take extra funds to educate employees to be up to date in their job knowledge and job skills; however looking at the big picture educating the employees would allow them to be at their very best. This would also give employees more depth of knowledge, which would increase the number and quality of ideas in the future.
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