Innovating Organizations

Date:   Wednesday , March 01, 2006

Out of the top 500 companies that appeared in 1957 Standard and Poorís index of the top 500, only 74 companies were alive in 1997. This means a life span of less than 40 years for some of the one-time leaders! This is even less than the career spans of the individuals who are part of them.

We have always believed that individuals may come and go, but organizations remain forever. On a deeper note, these organizations resisted change or rather were not able to keep pace with rapid changes. Such organizations were not innovating enough and succumbed to their own gravity.

Then, what really is the measure of an organization to be called an innovative organization?

Innovative organizations have a different story to tell. What comes out, as a winning factor is the great customer experience that their products and services have managed to create. Take the examples of Apple, Microsoft, Sony, Google and P&G. These organizations have innovated their business models, have one master strategy, and have successfully managed in creating and sustaining a highly collaborative work culture.

They seem to have excellent market insights, a culture that supports innovation and a keen eye for opportunity. Top innovators have not only the ability to understand what their customers want, but also help shape their customerís desire. Their corporate cultures consistently bring out their employees best thinking and performance. Top innovators have also the ability to take existing products and services and improve upon them.

Innovative organizations spot technology or industry disruptions and create big opportunities for themselves. They have a vision to create a substantial revenue stream from new opportunities, new markets and new technologies.

How does an organization evolve or learn to be an innovative organization?
Firstly, the core of the innovative organization is the ability of its leaders to sign up their teams and create sufficient escape velocity to pursue their aspirations. An idea that is not shared in equal spirit and conviction is bound to get diluted and get broken into small breadcrumbs.

Secondly, it is very important for leaders to have not only clear vision and strategy, but significant and deep insights, creativity and innovativeness when dealing with change. Usually problems due to change cannot be solved by old solutions and require new thinking.

Thirdly, is the ability of the organization to learn and unlearn and apply the learning in dealing with change.

Finally, it is the collaborative work force, that brings in significant innovation as against innovation that happens in pockets of organization. The organizational culture that promotes collaboration stands to gain a lot more in terms of innovation.

P R Chandrasekar is Chief Executive, Americas and Europe, Wipro Technologies