Organizational Innovation

By Martin Gilliard

A warm welcome to the organizational innovation page.

There are a number of characteristics that can be attributed to organisations that tend to be strong in terms of innovation… 


Diverse set of employees spanning different countries, cultures, specialized skill-sets, etc. Such diversity tends to create more ideas and requires people to adapt to one another in a much greater extent to that of organisations with low diversity within the workforce.

Diversity is almost like a fuel for innovation - it powers it on. Diverse experiences, knowledge and skill sets generate more ideas and overcome more problems.

Diversity For Innovation

Diversity For Innovation (Cartoon Credit: Tanja Föhr)

Flat Organisational Structure

Flat organisational structures with very few hierarchies. Such structures usually have decentralized control and authority and enable effective communication laterally between employees. Flat organisational structures are generally quite flexible with strong communication lines and therefore they are thought to promote innovation.

Open To A Certain Degree Of Risk

Willingness to take calculated risks. Organisations that have a senior management team which are more supportive of taking carefully selected risks have an increased likelihood of producing innovations. Organizations should be able to take on slightly more risky ventures by maintaining a balanced portfolio of projects.


Risk (Photo Credit: epSos .de)

Of course organisational diversity, structure and a willingness to take risks are not the only things required to support increased or more effective innovation. Innovation is complex and requires a team who are effective at the innovation management process.

organizational planner

(Photo Credit: Mags_cat)

Many times innovation simply comes about due to some form of surprise in the environment within which the organisation exists. This could be budget challenges and pressures, new government regulations, competitive pressure, new organisational leadership or changes in the economy. These type of surprises can act as a shock into action for key actors within an organisation – a kind of “do or die” type mind set - moving the organisation from complacency through to a proliferation of new ideas leading to multiple new innovations.

Other characteristics of organizational innovation that facilitate the innovation process include:

  • Growth focussed: The organization needs to have long-term perspective and have a commitment to growth over short-term profits.
  • Committed to technology: The most innovative organizations have a long-term commitment to technology and invest in the development of their existing technologies.
  • Sensing: An ability to be aware of threats and opportunities. PESTLE (Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal and Environmental) analysis can be a good tool to aid in scanning the environment. It is where you perform external analysis to provide different macro-environmental factors that an organisation should take into consideration. 
  • Adaptable: Able to accept and grasp change.
  • Cross-functional: Functions within the organization should be able to and willing to work well with each other.
  • Innovation process awareness: The organization should have a full awareness of the innovation process and provide room for employees to provide creative inputs to the process.

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