Thursday, 19 January 2012

Innovation Culture

Today's seminar really got me thinking and has driven me to publish another blog! 

The culture of a business in many aspects can be seen as the heart the way in which people go about their day to day activities and the rules/ guidelines in which they follow to complete these!

McLean and Marshall (1993) define culture to be the collection of traditions, values, policies, beliefs and attitudes that constitute a pervasive context for everything we do and think in an organisation. Which I feel is a really strong definition covering a lot of areas!

So looking at this it is simple to say that culture can really be defined for a company as the way we do things here. It can take so many terms as the way in which people do things too if looking more at employees.  This definition really does just sum the whole culture up as when comparing with the McLean and Marshall's definition each one of their points fits into this perfectly!

When looking at culture there are 4 well renowned types! Hardy (1985) researched into culture and wrote these 4 types of organisational culture.

    1)  Power Culture
                                                              i.      Occurs in small organisations
                                                            ii.      One major source of power
                                                          iii.      Decisions taken by key individuals
                                                           iv.      Success depends on the decision maker
                                                             v.      There are few rules and procedures

    2)  Role Culture
                                                              i.      The strength lies in its functions and specialities ( finance, purchasing, production and so forth)
                                                            ii.      Co-ordinated and controlled by a small group of senior executives
                                                          iii.      Job role more important than individual
                                                           iv.      Structure, procedures and rules determine what is done and how decisions are made.
                                                             v.      Civil Service, retail banking, oil industry

    3) Task Culture
                                                              i.      Teams operate together to achieve particular tasks
                                                            ii.      Teams exists until task is completed then members assigned to other teams
                                                          iii.      Key decision making body is the team
                                                           iv.      Heavily reliant on people involved
                                                             v.      Found in rapidly changing organisations
    4)  Person Culture
                                                              i.      Group of people decide that it is in the their own best interests to organise a collective
                                                            ii.      Individuals decide on their own work allocation
                                                          iii.      E.g. sharing the costs of office space, equipment and secretarial assistance.
                                                           iv.      Barristers, lawyers, doctors
                                                             v.      Organisation exists to satisfy members.

So you ask how does culture  relate to innovation?

Well its simple because. Culture needs leadership, especially culture change. To have a strong leader with the workforce on his side the business is able to do anything successfully. Culture needs a leader who is able to put his ideas to his workers and have them follow it with no complaints even when they are new ideas and new forms of working culture! Mullins (2010), defines leadership to be the relationship through which one person influences the behaviour or actions of other people. And this is exactly the key to success, if that leader can influence people getting them on his side anything can work.

I watched a video last year in Organisation Behaviour on a day in the life of Richard Branson. It was amazing to see that when he went into his office he knew the whole of his work force. He was able to speak to them all individually making jokes and knowing there names. The effect of this was obvious with the workforce smiling widely and looking happy to be there at work and when interviewed after they all expressed how they love to work for him, even though they aren't actually paid much! Now that shows leadership. Richard Branson is such a charismatic individual with always a smile of his face and a very eccentric personality and it really does rub off on his workforce. This could be why his innovations over the years have been so successful? As he has always had the backing of his workers who are willing to do bend over backwards to ensure his venture/innovation is a success!

There are many reports on Steve Jobs leadership style at Apple. Apple is the most innovative company in the world however when reading an article in the Sydney morning herald the author Sarah McInerney said that Steve Jobs was an unconventional leader he wasn't known for his consultative or consensus building approach. He was a "high-maintenance co-worker" who demanded excellence from his staff and was known for his blunt delivery of criticism. (Sydney Morning Herald,  2011). However I found another which I found to be very fascinating! Dr. James Canton worked at Apple headquarters in Silicon Valley in 1984 and was part of the team that launched the Macintosh computer. He spoke about Jobs's leadership style to be more innovative than anything he had seen and that which broke so many rules of leadership. Dr. James Canton said that "Steve first evangelized the Mac to us, the employees well before he sold the world. You have to sell the Big Vision first to your employees. If they don’t get it then customer will never. This seems obvious but too many leaders today have the right financial chops or seniority or even board support but don’t embody this lesson. Steve invented it.
Days before the Mac launch we sent around pictures of a Swiss Army knife, challenging ourselves that Mac was something else, not just a computer but a lifestyle appliance. Steve challenged us to think about the Mac as more then just a technology–it was a innovation in culture, lifestyle and learning." Jobs was making his workforce feel special, they knew that no body else knew about this and it was very clever of jobs as by getting his workforce on side allowed that product and Apple to become the great success of what is is today! He also went on to say how "Steve would remind us all that you have to enjoy the journey. Or don’t do it. He challenged us all to make a commitment to ourselves to do something big, important and meaningful. These lessons are as true today as in 1984." Steve Jobs had a very special culture at Apple, one that will never change.  
Overall, a culture of a business is all down to the innovative leaders that lead it. Having a innovative leader who gets that backing of the workers really is a massive bonus for any business and certainly in the two examples on Virgin and Apple it is apparent how well they have done through the innovative culture in which they lead. Steve Jobs's innovative leadership did surprise me he seemed the type to encourage his workers so charismatic like Richard Branson but I guess a man who has come up with so many fantastic ideas do people worry about what he is like as person? As a leader of course because you need a good organisational culture but somehow with his passion he has able to forward that on to his workers and now look where they are today. Top of the tree, most innovative company in the world. 
If you are interested, here is a list of the top 50 innovative companies in which all will have an innovative leader who will put forward his/her own innovative culture! Enjoy.

Hope you enjoyed reading this, I found it all very interesting anyway! Speak soon! 

Reference list

McLean A and Marshall J (1993), Intervening in cultures, working paper, University of Bath, England.

Hardy C.B. (1993), Understanding Organisations, fourth edition, London, England: Penguin

Mullins L.J (2010), Management and Organisational Behaviour, Ninth Edition, Essex, England: Pearson Education Limited

Sarah McInerney (2011), Sydney Morning Herald, [Online], Available from: Date accessed: 19/1/2012

Canton J, (2011), Steve Jobs's Innovation Leadership at Apple: My Lessons Learned, Blog, [Online], Availiable from: Date accessed:19/1/12

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