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Contemporary Management - 53A

Case study # 3
Creative deviance: Apple org. chart
Prepared by:
Mahmoud Nassef Ibrahim
1- Problem definition
Organization hierarchy increased standardization and control for top managers; which resulted in constant
resistance towards innovation and creativity. Although individuals may create extremely successful products or
ideas; despite being told by senior management to stop working on them.
2- Justification of the problem
As many organizations become successful, managements tend to innovate less. Unfortunately, they begin to
fear that money, time and resources they spend on innovation will erode their success, rather than enhance it.
Problems arise when people dont use their imagination, because they end up making things too complex.
The reasons for management resistance to ideas are numerous. When managers resist ideas they will discourage
the suggestion of ideas or find ways to block the approval of new ideas, due to general resistance to change
from managers.
Managements resist/reject innovative ideas, mainly due to the following reasons:
a) Resistance to change and fears associated with taking risks.
b) Lack of confidence in subordinates.
c) Communication barriers or miscommunication between divisions.
3- List of alternatives
Today, organizations need strong, committed leaders to create an environment that supports innovation and
drives it forward. Such leaders will accept risk and spend time to overcome resistance.
There are many approaches and methodologies related to establishing a well stable innovation culture within
organizations; hereunder three main alternative solutions related:
a. Enhancing the organizational culture and managerial supportive roles.
b. Create cross-function innovation teams and/or Ideas bank.
c. Add innovation & creativity metrics to employees performance appraisal.
4- Evaluation of alternatives
1) Enhancing the organizational culture and managerial support.
Enhance the overall organizational culture by involving managers who are supportive for innovation.
Create a culture that does not fear failure and rewards; reasonable risk taking in the pursuit of innovation.
When there are technical failures and cost overruns, increase the effort for testing and piloting ideas and costbenefit analysis.
Top managers encourage employees who have innovative and creative ideas to present their ideas directly to
top management; regardless of hierarchical & escalation process, most of employees will do their best to be
creative to get such opportunity, and it would also overcome senior managers fear of innovative ideas.
Creative and motivated managers control the resources that are necessary for the implementation of new ideas.
If they are not motivated to implement ideas in a timely way, it will be extremely demotivating for any
innovation program.
Ideas that involve growth should be supported by appropriate resources to avoid straining the personnel and
facilities of the organization.
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2) Create cross-function innovation teams and/or Ideas bank.


Creating cross-function teams that aim to generate and design new innovative ideas to be added in ideas bank
to be developed later and to be a foundation for other teams in the future.
Hire and promote balanced managers who are both creative thinkers and competent implementers; in order to
coordinate with each other in reaching new creative ideas.
Make it clear that innovation is part of everyones job.
Impress managers with the necessity of continuous change just to keep up with the competition.

3) Add innovation & creativity metrics to employees performance appraisal.


To consider creating, generating and applying new ideas as one of the key performance indicators for all
employees, this will motivate everyone to be more creative. While senior managers would encourage their teams
to innovate more, in order to improve performance appraisal results.
Managers should be rated on innovation by the value of the ideas that are generated by the people in their
departments.
Managers who have innovative departments should be rewarded appropriately with salary increases, bonuses,
and promotions.
5- Recommendations
I recommend applying the first two alternatives in all of the companies which are concerned with innovation
and creativity processes, in order to avoid missing the great opportunities of new innovation ideas.
a. Enhancing the organizational culture and managerial support.
b. Create cross-function innovation teams and/or Ideas bank.

References:
http://www.alba.edu.gr/News/Documents/AMR2010%20ARTICLE.pdf
http://www.positivedeviance.org/pdf/publications/Understanding%20the%20Impact%20of%20Positive%20Deviance.pdf
http://www.positivedeviance.org/pdf/publicationgeneralpd/Feb2004ABS_SpreitzerSonenshein.pdf

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