Componential and Woodman’s and Isaksen’s Models of Creativity and Innovation

Organizations in the contemporary world survive in a dynamic environment that poses new challenges every day. Therefore, the firms have to develop new ways of doing business so that they may achieve high competitive advantage compared to competitors. Creativity and innovation are some of the noble strategies that firms may use to succeed in the dynamic environment. Creativity is a process that leads to unique ideas while innovation is the process of putting the unique ideas into practice. These factors help workers to develop new techniques of solving the problems they face at the workplace and this leads to efficiency in the company. Despite the benefits of creativity and innovation in a company, there are numerous factors that inhibit their development. These factors may also be used to turnaround an organization and lead to high benefits instead of them being barriers to development. This paper will analyse the organization culture, leadership and human resource as major factors that affect creativity and innovation in my organization. The paper will use two major theories that include componential and Woodman’s and Isaksen’s model and it will provide suggestions for improvement in the future.

Factors within the Organization Environment for Creativity and Innovation

The environment refers to the factors that surround employees in an organization, and these factors may be sources of creativity if utilized efficiently, but they may also become barriers if ignored or used inefficiently. For example, Woodman’s theory of interaction argues that the environment consists of individuals who have personal characteristics, groups that operate in similar ways and the company aspects such as technology, organization structure, rewards and resources (Woodman, Sawyer, & Griffin, 1998, p.7). The efficient interaction between these factors leads to creativity and innovation in a firm. However, when a firm experiences problems with some factors, the environment becomes unfavourable for creativity and innovation. For example, the groups in an organization consist of individuals with diverse characteristics such as race, gender and language (Zhou & Shalley, 2015). These characteristics may prevent team members from working together in the group successfully especially when members do not speak the same language or if their genders cause them to suggest opposing views about the projects they are working on (Isaksen & Lauer, 2002). For example, within my organization, some workers speak with a unique accent that is a challenge to others. This challenge caused the group that combined workers who have an accent with those who don’t have to fail to complete all their projects successfully. Even if some members with an accent were found to have original ideas, it was hard to communicate them and this led to the failure of the projects that this group handled last month. The failure of the group to work successfully leads to inefficient interaction that becomes a barrier to the development of original ideas and processes as argued by Woodman, Sawyer and Griffin, 1993).

The resources in an organization may promote creativity and innovation if they are sufficient and efficient, but they may prevent the successful generation of noble ideas in case they do not function as expected (Runco, 2007). Technology includes things such as machines and computers that are used to perform various functions in an organization. According to Amabale (1996, p.8), the amounts of resources that an organization devotes to a project have a direct influence on the creativity of the individuals who work on that project in the company. This means that if a firm provides a team with few resources to complete a task, that team may develop perceptions the efficiency of those resources. For example, the team may develop a perception that the resources are not sufficient enough to lead to the successful completion of the task. This causes them to relax and to fail to develop new ideas that may enable the project to become a success even if this would be possibly achieved.

Human Resource Development in the Organization

Lowenberger (2013) argues that the human resource development of an organization is in charge of identifying, supporting and leading the creative generations so that they may come up with new ideas that move the firm ahead of its competitors. The human resource managers in a firm do this by identifying individuals with the rights skills, abilities, attitudes and perceptions so that they may perform functions efficiently (Sung & Choi, 2014). However, if the human resource fails to identify the right talent for the organization, it may lead to the lack of people with innovative and creative ideas. This generally blocks the entire organization from developing unique processes from those of competitors in the industry.

According to Amabile (1996), the human resource in a firm may hinder creativity and innovation by assigning workers with huge work-loads. Too much work leads to pressure on the part of employees and this prevents them from completing the assigned tasks with an open mind. Workers perceive too much work-load as an attempt to be controlled in the company and this causes them to lose the morale to come up with original ideas (Steiber & Alange, 2013). The hiring department may also discourage creativity in an organization by assigning employees tasks that they are not best at performing. For example, in my firm, the manager once asked the accountant to take part in the technical design of a new production system; instead of assigning that person the role of balancing the books of accounts of the organization. This is a mismatch between the employee’s skills and the tasks assigned and it blocks the creativity of that person in the company. It discouraged that worker and it also led to the design of a poor system because the HRM failed to select the right people to undertake this job.

However, Amabale (1996) argues that human resource managers may cultivate the spirit of creativity and innovation in workers by assigning them challenging tasks. These are different from work-load pressure because they motivate a worker intrinsically. The employee gains interest of solving the problem at hand because there are no deadlines that have to be beaten. Isaksen, Dorval and Treffinger (2010) also argue that workers enjoy challenging tasks and they devote their time and energy in completing these functions successfully. The researcher argues that this may also be enhanced through the creation of an environment where workers are free to joke around their work; because it makes them to feel light hearted and easy going. External rewards such as salaries, bonuses and promotions may also welcome creativity in a firm and this leads to high competitiveness of that firm.

Leadership Factors

The leadership in an organization also plays a huge part in the creativity and innovation levels of an organization. According to Woodman’s theory of interaction, leaders foster the generation of new ideas by using the right leadership style (Woodman, Sawyer & Griffin, 1993). For example, democratic and participative leadership methods motivate workers to approach their jobs with open minds, an aspect that is necessary for one to develop an original idea. Democratic leadership style is the one where a leader gives employees a chance to participate in making decisions especially those that affect them (Zhou & Shalley, 2008). For example, leaders may workers in designing a favourable working environment instead of developing one in their absence and forcing them to adapt it. The workers feel motivated to solve the challenges they experience at work by developing new ideas and suggesting them to the management.

Participative leadership is another efficient method in which the leaders take part in the activities that they assign to workers. For example, in my work environment, the manager participates by performing functions such as managing books of accounts when the accountant is not around. The manager also takes part in team work by being a member of various teams and being assigned unique tasks in these groups. This enables workers to feel appreciated and it makes them to feel that they are treated fairly. The employees also get motivated to develop ways of solving the challenges they face because they are sure of being listened to by their leader who has first-hand experience in performing various tasks in the groups (Van, 1991). For example, we were able to solve the problem of workers losing morale in the organization when the manager took part in the group that was assigned the task of finding out ways of increasing morale in the company. Employees suggested a new idea of assigning at least one hour to story-telling within the company. This session helped to reduce boredom and it led to the generation of solutions to some problems in the organization. Some workers received salary hikes because of narrating how challenging their work was and the effect it had on their physical and emotional bodies.

Despite the positive ways in which leadership promotes creativity, it may also hinder development especially when leaders use inefficient leadership styles. The componential theory suggests that autocracy is an inefficient leadership style. For example, when a manager fixes the resources that employees should use in a project and the leader refuses to adjust these resources even when workers complain that they are insufficient. Amabale (1996) also postulates that the failure of a leader to support creativity and innovation may lead to the same spirit among employees. Some managers oppose creativity by failing to assign challenges to workers meaning that they accept the status quo, which according to interaction theory is an inhibitor of innovation (Steiber & Alange, 2013).

In conclusion, creativity and innovation within an organization enables the company to respond to customer needs and it leads to high competitive advantage. Factors such as resources, technology, leadership and the management of human resource may promote or hinder these developments; based on how they are applied. In my organization, creativity and innovation is poor because the human resource and the organization environment are unfavourable. The HRM matched workers with the wrong jobs and the diversity in the firm proves to be a challenge in group communication. However, the leadership is efficient because the head of the firm participates in completing tasks in the company.

Recommendations

The weaknesses identified in the organization above may be solved so that there may be room for creativity and innovation. The first way in which improvements may be made is by assigning a language interpreter to every group that has people with an accent and others who do not have one. This person may help to balance communication between the two groups that face challenges communicating with one another. The company may also employ human resource manager who has the knowledge and experience of what every employee is capable of doing. This may also be solved by engaging the current head of human resource in training and development programs. These programs equip the HRM with knowledge of what they should do to maximize the capabilities of workers.

The organization may also introduce new mechanisms of nurturing creativity and innovation among employees. For example, the company may utilize structured techniques of solving problems such as brain storming and Osborne Parnes Framework (Van, 1981). Brainstorming requires the management to present a problem to employees and asking them to suggest numerous ideas of how it may be solved. The employees are prohibited from criticizing the ideas of others to encourage everyone to suggest a technique of approaching the situation. Later, the company may evaluate the ideas at the table and select the most original and efficient idea so that it may be implemented.

The Osborne Parnes Framework, on the other hand, requires the management to define the problem or opportunity that the organization wants to take advantage of. The next step is that of collecting all relevant information about that opportunity and then redefining it so that it may be understood more. Employees are then asked to create numerous ideas of how that opportunity may be utilized and then their suggestions are evaluated so that the best one may be selected. In the last stage, the most suitable idea, which is usually original, is put into practice (Runco, 2007). This helps the company to achieve high productivity and efficiency, which may decrease the cost of operations and consequently increase earnings in the company.

References

Amabile, T.M. (1996). Creativity in context. Westview press: Oxford.

Isaksen S. G., Dorval, K. B. and Treffinger, D. J. (2010). Creative approaches to problem solving: A framework for innovation and change. London, Sage.

Loewenberger, P. 2013. The Role of HRD in Stimulating, Supporting, and Sustaining Creativity and innovation. Human Resource Development Review 2013 12: 422.

Runco, M. (2007) Creativity. Theories and Themes: Research, Development, and Practice. Academic Press: London.

Steiber, A. and Alange, S. 2013. A corporate system for continuous innovation: the case of Google Inc. European Journal of Innovation Management, 16, 243-264.

Sung, Y. and Choi, J. N. 2014. Do they spend wisely on people? Effects of human resource development investment on organizational innovation. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 35, 393-412.

Van Gundy, A. B. (1981) Techniques of Structured Problem Solving. Von Nostrand Reinhold: New York Weisberg.

Woodman, R, Sawyer, J, & Griffin, R 1993, ‘Toward A Theory Of Organizational Creativity’, Academy Of Management Review, 18, 2, pp. 293-321, Business Source Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 23 April 2016.