Organization as an innovator
Organization brings us a lot of progress and makes life easier. We often recognize their importance only when they do not work. However, in our organized world, we must also be aware that organization can prevent some, many, sometimes also decisive ones.
We are doing a company tour on the occasion of the preparation of a strategy workshop. The plant produces structures and components for civil and military aircraft construction. We are proud to show us a hall in which composite dents and cargo doors are manufactured.
Innovation as a threat
Organizations do not generate innovations, but ensure efficiency through “fish stick thinking”.
That is why everything is ignored, which threatens this logic: the really new, the factual ambiguity, the courageous tryout, the uncontrolled admitting. But it is exactly these threats that make innovation at all.
Organizations prevent innovation
Organization of classical imprinting thus fatally prevents exactly what it needs for its future viability - namely, innovation. Nevertheless, there is no denying that innovation is a daily occurrence in the context of organizations.
But a large part of these real innovations comes from outside industries, unorganized garages, from individuals - and often they are simply created by chance.
Creating innovations by doing something forbidden
Only a few manufacturers are able to produce important components using this technology. It is not a matter of course that one masters this production method here. By processing composite materials, significant weight savings can be achieved.
But actually this competence should not have been present in the factory. Due to the strategic orientation of a few years ago - the plant was still part of a different group - there was a directive from the top not to deal with the CFRP lightweight construction (carbon fiber composites).
Innovation means breaking rules
If innovation is involved, it should not be created at a production site, but in the dedicated departments.
Some brave local engineers resisted and did the forbidden. She and the plant management considered it vital for the company and the location to process more than just aluminum and titanium in aircraft construction in the future. The tricky part: From this experiment, the managers of the parent company were allowed to know for a long time nothing.
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From the shame to the showcase project
A lot of energy has therefore been put into secrecy. Not an easy task as the space at the site was very limited. And so groups of visitors had to be skilfully led around the “forbidden” hall, and excuses had to be found. It wasn't until much later, when the innovative production process was mastered and dared to take part in various tenders, that the new skills were made public in the group.
Today, people are very proud of the fact that a wide variety of CFRP aircraft structures can be manufactured in the factory. It is this technology that the Executive Committee gladly presents to politicians. Without a doubt, that is for the Company this has created a real competitive advantage.
Joseph Schumpeter and Innovation
About 100 years ago Joseph Schumpeter, the well-known Austrian economist, applied the Latin term “innovare” to the economic context. He meant renewal through “creative destruction”. At that time it was understood to mean the creation of new combinations of factors of production. Initially, the focus was on process and not product innovations.
Organization, however, is anything but a system that ensures creative destruction and subsequent comprehensive renewal. On the contrary, reliability and repeatability are the deciding factors of the organization. Rationality is sought in it. It wants to provide maximum security and therefore can not seriously allow for the insecurity inherent in innovation. Because: Organization has to justify itself again and again, that something is done or not.
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German edition: ISBN 9783965961548
English version: ISBN 9783965961555 (Translation notice)
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