Conditions for Creativity and Innovation – non-linear development
From a Business Perspective
Most development within companies is done within linear organizations. It has become an important part of survival. The most discussed variation has, during the last 10 years (in the western world), been Kaizen with its continuous improvements.
If you don’t manage to improve as fast as or faster than your competitorsm or for that matter customer demand, you are heading for disaster.
Continuous improvements and other linear, planned developments, will not be enough in the future. You also need innovations – entirely new ways of thinking regarding:
- Product development; the whole product range
- Working methods, internally and externally
This type of innovative thinking needs non-linear ways of working and it requires other conditions than the linear one. Actually, you could say that environments that are good for linear development are not good for non-linear development.
Many successful companies were once started as small innovative units with very limited resources and structures, by different, independent and freethinking people.
Their ideas and innovations have then been turned into products suitable for production and marketing by an efficient and disciplined organization. Success!
Eventually, products grow mature, they get copied by others and competitive substitutes start to be sold.
At this stage, ask yourself if efficient and disciplined organization has what it needs to renew and the power of innovation needed to break new ground. Do you still have people like those freethinking strong ones?
Is there still room within the company for non-linear development?
What are the main requirements on an environment to be able to support linear and non-linear development?
There are two main contradictions to consider:
- Structure and Chaos
- The Market and The Mountain
These two contradictions can be put together in a model and thus creates four environments with certain conditions.
You may be able to recognize the Market and the Structure quite easily, but it might be more difficult to find the other two.
In most organizations we recruit people to fit into teams that in turn must function within the two most common areas – The Market and Structure.
Can the conditions even be created within an organization with its base in traditional production and marketing? Can this be done within your company?
It might be so that you must seek opportunities outside the company or by taking extraordinary actions within the organization.
In creativity lies an enormous feeling of self-fulfillment and true joy. In his book “Courage to Create”, Rollo May describes the anxiety and joy of true creativity.
He says that creativity and creation is the highest form of life. Maybe part of it is being able to freely move between Structure and Chaos, to use both of them. The same thing goes for The Mountain and The market.
Could creativity be dependant of movements between these four aspects? Can this be important to think about for you?