Case Study – Uber
Companies that have had the most powerful innovations over the long haul are those that have been the most creative and innovative. These companies are unique in their business models and may only use creative ideas from others to act as a springboard to develop a unique product or service. Instead of competing with others, they distance themselves from competition, preferring to leverage their creativity and innovative ideas to sustain long-term success.
It is interesting how Uber, a transport company with headquarters in San Francisco, California started a transportation ecosystem with on-demand drivers with a dynamic pricing (Knight, 2016). Amidst legal woes and backlash towards their surge pricing, Uber has rapidly become a fixture in some of the world’s biggest cities. The company now operates in more than 570 cities all over the world and uses a mobile app to reach out and connect with their customers for transportation and food delivery.
Essentially, creativity involves a combination of knowledge, curiosity, and imagination to come up with a unique idea, giving birth to innovation. Innovation is typically the implementation of a new and unique design. In this case, Uber was the first transport company to come up with transportation ecosystem with on-demand drivers accessible through a mobile application.
Catalysts that Enable innovation
With an ever-increasing competition and dynamic business environment in the global market, innovation is a potential competitive advantage for various companies. At the center of it all, innovation catalyst has become increasingly important especially for businesses seeking sustainable competitive advantages. In this context, the most feasible and viable incentives that enable innovation include knowledge management, constructed innovation, and information sharing.
Knowledge in organizations’ innovation is essential to sustaining competitive advantage and value creation in that it allows for the process of knowledge acquisition through internal or external sources (Chou & Liu, 2013). Once knowledge has been acquired, knowledge management ensures that the information is embedded within organization’s information exchange structures, where it is used to generate new ideas. In a majority of firms, effective knowledge management provides unique ideas and thus high levels of innovation. Constructed Innovation usually comes from sources within the organization and allows for innovation through knowledge integration. This knowledge comes from employees’ experience, customer feedback and the capacity of the organization to absorb and implement the acquired knowledge to come up with unique ideas on service delivery or new products. Knowledge sharing allows fruitful stimulation of information owners to share knowledge that plays a major role in rebuilding others.
Innovation is significant for organizations that need to grow, survive, and sustain competitive advantage. By adopting these three innovation catalysts, companies not only embrace construction of new knowledge but also of proven new information across business environments. In the context of the organization, the three catalysts have the ability to help in developing innovative and high products for increased competitiveness.
Failure in Organizations
There is a widely misguided belief that failure is not good for an organization. However, Edmondson (2012), seeks to dispute this long-help misconception. According to him, in organizations, there is nothing like good life all through. Secondly, learning from organizational failures is straightforward especially when people embrace their mistakes and learn from them. Along with that, failure is a necessity for innovation to take place, because with it comes learning, adaptation, iteration, and the invention of new models. As it is, mistakes are part of the company, and they stimulate them to look beyond their narrow cocoon and instills lateral thinking. In fact, almost all innovations are because of a previous lesson from failures.
Significant Ways that Organization can use failure to Succeed
The fastest way for organizations to achieve is to allow failure. As a matter of fact, Edmondson asserts that businesses cannot break through product or process innovation if they are not willing to take risks, fail, and learn from their subsequent mistakes. Ordinarily, there are several ways that companies can use failure to find success. For instance, organization employees may be too terrified to try a new approach for fear of failing. In such a case, management can trigger a situation that will lead to failure as a way of teaching employees that failure is inevitable, and what is important is rising again and succeeding. Another way that failure can be allowed is so that it can reinforce a better business practice. Failure in this context is used to teach people that what they are doing is wrong, and acts as a way of showing them the right thing to do.
Impactful Organizations Pivot
The most critical decision for many entrepreneurs is knowing when it is important to stay on course and when to change direction. Within the contexts of entrepreneurs’ dilemma, making a pivot has saved several companies from sinking further. Case sample is Twitter, the San Francisco-based technology company, which has become powerful in less than a decade since the company implemented its monumental pivot.
Initially, Twitter CEO alongside a former Google employee Biz Stone and Jack Dorsey set out to build a podcasting platform named Odeo. However, things did not turn out as projected and the company was on the verge of becoming obsolete after Apple launched iTunes. Unfortunately, the story about the rise of the 140-character status platform is contradictory, with some saying that seeing the threat, Williams bought Odeo from the other investors and focused on developing Twitter. Nonetheless, Carlson (2011) disputes the story asserting that the real story is not that straightforward and innocent. Notably, as he explains, the story of Twitter began in Glass’ apartment, moved to Williams, and eventually to an office building hosting 14 employees. In 2005, Odeo’s expansion was halted due to Apple’s iTunes invention, and the staff was asked to brainstorm ideas to salvage the company. Eventually, Noah Glass developed the concept of Twitter and presented it to Evan Williams who was a bit skeptical about the notion. The rest is history, but one thing is for sure, the transformation of Odeo to Twitter was one of the major impactful pivots.
Case study of a Successful Organization’s Structures
Large companies have a large potential base for innovation at their disposal. Unfortunately, a majority of the big companies only realize a small fraction of this potential in their products and services innovation. According to Savoia & Copeland (2011), the amount of innovation a company has directly correlated to its organization’s structures, particularly in the way it approaches, fosters and funds innovation efforts. Google is well documented for its successful organizational structure, which goes beyond the typical corporate culture. By far, Google’s successful structure is attributed to its flat organizational structure and openness with its employees. Transparency, in this case, is achieved by allowing employees to feel free about expressing their opinions and innovative ideas. Employees are free to express their passion and interests, which is critical in driving innovation within the company. The thing that has contributed to the successful organization structures of the company is its adoption of a flat organization structure. As Savoia & Copeland elaborates, Google is normally managed like most other companies. However, despite having the traditional hierarchy of leaders, the positions do not carry as much weight as they do in other businesses, especially when deciding on products or assigning of activities. While this kind of management brings in a lot of chaos, it is also a way of generating potential innovative ideas.
Reigniting Creativity in Business
For companies’ models to be efficient and unique, several elements are involved. It is also terrifying to think about all the competition in the current world for any idea an individual or organization embarks on pursuing. However, as Iny (n.d) explains, businesses nowadays is about making an idea better than the existing one, or in short being unique in your way, which is one of Ted’s talks that caught my eye.
Alan talks about creativity as a paradox that has never resonated well in the business world. According to him, the key to being creative is embracing doubt because there is nothing as having a bad idea. The concept behind this reasoning is that not everything an organization does regularly should be believed 100 percent. As he elaborates, doubt allows people to be open-minded and be willing to try new ideas for solving whatever problems they may be facing. In essence, it does not matter how great an individual is, taking the time to list all the assumptions and expectations of a business is important. Thinking about what needs change does not require organizations or persons to create anything new, instead, modify the existing ideas. In the end, the only thing that is necessary for practical creativity is having doubt about everything and embarking on change.
Influence of Organizational Culture on Creativity
Organizational culture is often defined as the way things are done within the factions of an organization. It refers to the deeply shared values and beliefs of organization personnel. In business creativity and innovation, organizational culture represents an integral part. Understanding the impact of corporate culture on creativity and the ability of the company to react is critical to innovation within the structures of the organization. For instance, motivation is often viewed as a driver of creativity in organizations (Sarmento, 2011). Motivation is usually in the form of intrinsic, which emanates from inside the individual and extrinsic, which comes from the organization. Organization cultures that do not motivate their employees to be creative are likely to derail innovative ideas from their teams. Another innovation driver is the desire and tendency to search for new information and experience. According to Sarmento, organizations that encourage groups to explore and help them in translating their curiosity into creativity often benefit from these ideas, which are channeled to the structures of the body. In addition to the above, self-confidence is another major driver that influences creativity. Creative people should possess high levels of confidence to be able to express their ideas. Without this, it is hard for employees to express their ideas and inventions.
The Four Lenses of Innovation
As opposed to popular belief, innovation is not mystical art forbidden to mere mortals, and this is evident through the four lenses of innovation that seeks to debunk this pervasive myth. Essentially, the four lenses of innovation in an organization include one, challenging orthodoxies, which seeks to question long-held dogmas and common assumptions within the company factions (Gibson, 2015). The second lens of innovation is the harnessing trends, which focuses on spotting unnoticed trends as a way of trying to change the rules of operations within the organization. The third lens is the leveraging resources that see a firm a firm as not only a source of products and services but also a portfolio of skills and assets. The fourth lens involves understanding needs, which includes identifying unmet or unspoken needs and attempting to address them.
Within the context of my organization, the other lenses of innovation are frequently practiced except the challenging orthodoxies. Unfortunately, the manager has been credited with several successful innovations to the point he believes that he is the only one who is right making it hard for the other employees to challenge him. Otherwise, the other three lenses are well represented within the innovation factions, which have inspired the company to greater heights of innovation.
Creativity, Flexibility, Innovation, and Leadership in Organizational Success
Flexibility in organizations stimulates creativity in employees who can then create innovative outcomes. However, within the context of organizations, effective leadership is imperative to employee flexibility, creativity, and innovation. As Agbor (2008) notes, for creativity to happen, leaders must actively implement strategies to encourage the activity. This means, for innovation to take place within organizations, creativity and leadership must be harnessed together and establish a culture that continuously encourages people to be creative for continued organization success. Similarly, creativity and innovation depend on how leaders support and manage diversity within the organization as well as having an effective leadership structure that supports the innovation process. As it is, Agbor asserts that not all leadership structures are conducive to creativity and innovation. For instance, hierarchical and authoritarian models, where leaders control information, allocation of resources, the decision-making process, and employees are likely to be less empowered, translating to less creativeness, and productivity. In addition to the above, organizational success is possible in organizations that are knowledge-based, and everyone is required to share their experience. When this happens, employees can express their opinions, share their ideas with management, who are likely to embrace them and develop them into a unique creation.
Case Study – Influential Leaders
Steve Jobs, former Apple CEO has often been described as innovative, determined and a genius in accordance to his high legacy in transforming the company. Jobs impact is undeniable when it comes to delivery of innovation at a time when the company needed it most. Among his leadership qualities, adaptability, vision, a sense of urgency, and remaining focused are some of the elements associated with his immense success at Apple (Lakin, 2016). Steve Jobs was not perfect in his leadership role, but he was bold and always took risks. When he returned to Apple after being away for 12 years, he envisioned that the cure for the company was not in cutting costs, but innovation. Steve launched one innovation after another, developing a culture of innovation within Apple’s organization structure.
As an individual and aspiring leader, I draw my inspiration from Steve Jobs and do not believe in settling for average. After all, Steve never settled for average an element that has influenced me to believe that I am only destined for greatness. One personal trait I have in common with Steve is mastery of the message. Over the years and throughout the course I have mastered my presentation skills, and I must say that I have the ability to convince others to take action.
Innovation According to Albert Einstein
“Innovation is not the product of logical thought, although the result is tied to logical structure,” Albert Einstein once said. In order to understand this statement, we review the element of creating change in a system. The statement can be used in this context to mean, organizations should approach the system they intend to influence considering what they want it to do because the underlying structure has a stronger directional pull and determines the success of the innovation (Sommers, 2012). The logical structure is a system with forces inside that pulls whatever that enters its orbit to the underlying structure to affect the results. This means even ideas that are seen as disruptive or transformation bends to the gravitational pull of the system. For instance, solutions at Uber derived from ideation of creating a transportation ecosystem with on-demand drivers and dynamic pricing strategy. The innovative organization embarked on a system that did not provoke any logical thought to a majority of the spectators and critics because the company chose to venture in a unique business model that no other company embarked on. By far, Uber today attributes its greatest success on its structure, which has also inspired several other companies to copy their transportation system.
Within the factions of an organization, organizational structures represent how activities such as allocation of tasks coordination, and supervision are driven together for the achievement of company goals. Essentially, there is a wide range of organizational structures that drive the success of company objectives. For instance, the flatter organization structure seeks to open lines of communication and collaboration by eliminating layers of restrictions within the organization (Bilney & Pillay, 2015). The system exists in a robust set of technologies that act as the central point where employees can access information anywhere and anytime. By far, this organization structure correlates to Uber’s system of management in several ways. Apart from the CEO who controls the top most office in Uber, there are several other factions of authority, which internally controls the operations of the organization (Carson, 2016). These levels of authority have the ability to decide on what is best for the organization and implement it provided they report and liaise with the CEO. On the ground, the structure seeks to improve employee experience, challenges the status quo, and achieves similar results in shorter terms and with fewer efforts and resource allocation. Another desirable factor about is the fact that the structure is designed around the principle of employees do not need to work; rather they should want to work. This type of structure allows employees to fit in, embrace the company objectives, and ensure sustainable success.
Example of an Innovative Process that has contributed towards Significant Change
Despite massive investments in time and money, a majority of organizations keep on suffering frustrations in their attempts to implement innovation. Most of the times, initiatives fail, and successful innovators find it hard to sustain their success. Nevertheless, it is interesting how some companies initiate an innovative process and continue to record significant change and success in their operations. Essentially, within my organization, several innovative methods have contributed major change such as dropping the idea of advertising on commercials and adopting the use of social media to spread the brand name and label on shopping bags. As it is, Rajsekar (2016) asserts that social media from linkedIn, Twitter, to Facebook offers a great platform in the current world to market brands, products, and services. In fact, all that is needed is the ability to strategize, optimize, socialize and convert traffic into clients. The company figured out that spending on commercials was exaggerated regarding cost and instead took to social media, where they have been able to reach out to thousands of users and make known of their brand name. The other innovative process that has yielded results is the adoption of branded shopping bags as a way of making known to people about the existence of their brand.
Strategies that Promote Productive and Innovative Practices
In actual sense, productivity refers to how well a company convert its input into products or services. However, in the current competitive business world, productivity is no longer limited to comparing ratios of input to the outputs, rather it means working smarter for sustainable success. As it is, successful organizations understand the importance of innovation in their business and usually apply several strategies to promote productive and innovative practices. For instance, successful organizations understand the essence of embracing technology to improve their operations (Amabile & Khaire, 2008) Effective information technology infrastructures enhances smooth flow of information, making it easy for employees to access and share ideas, leading in better collaboration and engagement within the organization. Apart from that, organizations should not be afraid of trying new ideas. Businesses should be willing and ready to take a risk, know that failures are inevitable, and learn from their mistakes. By taking risks and experimenting, organizations can launch new products and services and improve their business success. In addition to the above, another strategy that would promote productive and innovative practices is having a leader who inspires and accommodates new ideas. An effective leader is crucial in encouraging employees to be creative and engage them in expressing their ideas. In fact, most of the world’s innovative organizations have a pattern that allows the transition of ideas from top to bottom and vice versa.
Innovation strategies for Sustainable Change
In the current competitive business world, sustainable competitive advantage is a life-long benefit that enables businesses to survive against their competitors over an extended period. For organizations, this entails adaptation of innovative strategies that would allow sustainable change and organizational success. According to Mulder (2007), at the core of sustainable development, technological innovation is a must. The first step in using technologies for sustained development is by analyzing the need that should be fulfilled by the product. It is also important for organizations to understand that consumers have distinctive needs, which often limits the scope of alternatives available. Apart from fulfilling a need, thinking globally is also a crucial strategy for sustainable change. Mulder notes that acting locally is necessary, but having a broader perspective with a long-term view is important for business. After all, remaining local restricts organization growth to small markets, while thinking globally presents the potential of expanding internationally. Along with that, strategies for sustainable change should be long-term. As Mulder elaborates, small improvements are nice but not enough for organizations that are looking for a change in the long haul. For instance, if an organization is looking to build houses, going for durable may be expensive but sustainable in the end.
Most Appropriate Innovative Strategy
Essentially, within the organizational settings, there are several drivers of innovation, and among them, failure has the greatest impact on creative success. According to Edmondson (2012), tolerating a certain degree of failure in organizations is necessary for encouraging innovation. Most of the times, employees are afraid of taking risks if they are not sure of the business goals, but above all the understanding that failure is simply a step in the learning process encourages them. By embracing failure, organizations encourage brainstorming, and collaboration of relevant stakeholders to be able to piece together several aspects of innovation to come with a unique idea that is more likely to succeed in the future. Similarly, failure offers an opportunity for organizations to learn from their past mistakes and make the necessary changes for success in the future. For instance, if launching a product fails to elicit the attention and revenue it was expected to bring, organizations can use customer feedback to come up with a better product tailored to meet consumer needs. Besides, by embracing failure, companies create an environment where employees feel safe to express their ideas and challenge themselves to think outside the box for increased creativity. In essence, failure instills a sense of open-mindedness that yields improvement in creativity and innovation.
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