Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Eight Steps to Building Innovating Organizations
Article Type: Suggested reading From: Human Resource Management International Digest, Volume 16, Issue 4.
Manu Parashar, Sage, 2007
Keywords: Innovation, Change management, Organizational development, Strategic managementToday’s organizations are under constant pressure to adapt, create and innovate. Organizations that neglect to change often find themselves unable to compete effectively.
Manu Parashar points out, in Eight Steps to Building Innovating Organizations, that “innovation is all about combining various kinds of knowledge in a unique manner”. The outcome of this process is new knowledge. Degrees of innovation, however, may vary from being only marginally discernable to creating major breakthroughs at the other. Manu Parashar not only provides accounts of innovative organizations like IBM, Dupont, 3M, Infosys, Tata Motors and Biocon, but also takes the reader through a series of “how to” stages.
The author contends that organizations with the most appropriate culture to foster innovation allow the free exchange of ideas, create awareness, build curiosity and encourage playfulness. This must be done in an environment of trust. Of particular note is the author’s discussion of online communities and effective use of blogs and forums to create thinking places.
Manu Parashar also describes how to ignite innovative thinking through random insertion, reversal and metaphors. Random insertion is the notion of taking a random object as a starting point to begin combining knowledge that can point to novel ways of looking at things. Reversal is taking a concept and reversing one’s perspective so as to discover different ways to approach the issue. The author employs the example of cooking oils that are typically unhealthy when used in excess. However, by combining health knowledge and knowledge derived from various vegetable oils, Saffola, Indian cooking oil, was developed, which does not harm people’s health. Finally, he reminds us of the use of metaphors that prompt innovative thinking when applied to dissimilar processes, events or products.
Manu Parashar includes chapters on the importance of individuals and teams, vision, goals and feedback.
This is a fast read and could be a good reference book when planning staff retreats or as a primer for building a truly innovative organization. Ironically, though, the text itself contains little that is truly innovative.
Reviewed by James T. (Jim) Walz Sr, of Rinker School of Business, Palm Beach Atlantic University, West Palm Beach, Florida, USA.
A longer version of this review was originally published in Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 28 No. 8, 2007.