Today’s businesses are mostly based on knowledge. Therefore, production of knowledge and innovation is critical to any organisation. The success lies within organisation’s social assets - especially its capacity to learn and to be creative.
The world we live in is highly complex and unpredictable. We need platforms to communicate and to participate in organisational life in order to make sense of it and to expand the social learning capacity. Yet, the current tools are supporting rationalisation and stability rather than creativity and dynamic future building.
As described by Dess and Picken (2000):
”the traditional management tools and techniques are designed to ensure organisational stability, operational efficiency, and predictable performance. Formal planning processes, centralized decision-making, hierarchical organisation structures, standardized procedures, and numbers-oriented control systems are still the rule in most organisations. As important as these structures and processes are to organisational efficiency, they tend to limit flexibility and create impediments to innovation, creativity and change.”
Hereby, the greatest task for leaders is to ”loosen up” the organisation, to create conditions for people to unlock their potentials and to flourish. The potential is there, the question is how to cultivate it so that it becomes creativity? How to enable spaces for collaboration that allows playfulness, testing ideas, exploring and imagining alternative futures and most importantly - multivoiced participation?
Alf Rehn (2010) points out that creativity and innovations are not based on individual efforts but on collective thinking and knowledge processes. "Creativity is not born in one mind but is developed between minds." This also highlights that organisations don’t become creative ones by hiring the most talented and creative individuals. The point is that successful and creative organisations are good at combining the knowledge of individuals into greater whole. And this requires new ways to organise multi-level communication and participation in the organisations.
What can be learned from this is that the so called soft side issues is the most hard core business after all.
Dess, G.G. & Picken, J.C. 2000. Changing roles:Leadership in the 21st century. Organizational dynamics, 28, 18-34.
Rehn, A. 2010. Dangerous ideas. When provocative thinking becomes your most valuable asset.