This article examines how certain historical forces – the scientific revolution and “scientific management” – have created a legacy of organizational “design DNA” that can create only organizational machines: good at execution, but poor at innovation and change. Next, it examines leadership and management practices that can overcome this legacy and create a climate of corporate creativity.
The article traces the effect of the scientific revolution and “scientific management” on deeply‐embedded cultural assumptions about the nature and purpose of organizations, leadership, and work. It argues that those assumptions drive an overwhelming organizational bias toward rationality, uniformity, stability, continuity, predictability and control, all of which militate against diversity, creativity, adaptation and change. Then the article describes a transformation in leadership and management practices that can overcome this historical legacy and create a culture of corporate creativity.
The article calls on executives to: adopt an adult‐to‐adult (mutual partnering) relationship with the workforce, treating employees as independent, highly capable, unique adults; build social systems that maximize both social differentiation and social integration; build a culture that rewards creativity and creative (right‐brained) people; build alignment on a mutually‐shared “deep purpose”; and unite in community with the workforce. Originality/value – This article argues that sustainable profound innovation is possible only if formal innovation processes are accompanied by a fundamentally new paradigm for leadership and management. Its goal is a workforce primed for sustainable performance and innovation excellence; its foundation is an ultra‐high‐engagement, ultra‐high‐inclusion culture based on an adult‐to‐adult, mutual partnering relationships.
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