An organizational culture, in which personnel are encouraged to generate new ideas, without being harmed, and where the focus is on what is supported instead of on what is not viable, should encourage creativity and innovation (Filipczak, 1997). Fair evaluation of ideas will also support and encourage creativity (Amabile, 1995). An organizational culture that supports a continuous learning orientation should encourage creativity and innovation. By focusing on being inquisitive, encouraging personnel to talk to one another (e.g., to clients within and outside the organization to learn from them), keeping knowledge and skills up to date and learning creative thinking skills, a learning culture can be created and maintained.
Behaviour that Encourages Innovation
Values and norms that encourage innovation manifest themselves in specific behavioural forms that promote or inhibit creativity and innovation. The way in which mistakes are handled in organizations will determine whether personnel feel free to act creatively and innovatively. Mistakes can be ignored, covered up, used to punish someone or perceived as a learning opportunity (Brodtrick, 1997). Tolerance of mistakes is an essential element in the development of an organizational culture that promotes creativity and innovation. Successful organizations reward success and acknowledge or celebrate failures, for example, by creating opportunities to openly discuss and learn from mistakes (Tushman and O’Reilly, 1997).
Taking risks and experimenting are behaviours that are associated with creativity and innovation. A culture in which too many management controls are applied will inhibit risk taking and consequently creativity and innovation (Judge et. al., 1997). The assumption that risks may be taken as long as they do not harm the organization will not encourage personnel to be creative and innovative by experimenting and taking risks (Filipczack, 1997, p. 37). It is important that a balance should be reached in the degree to which risk taking is allowed. This can be achieved by spelling out expected results, assigning the responsibility of monitoring and measuring risk taking to someone in the organization, creating a tolerant atmosphere in which mistakes are accepted as part of taking the initiative, regarding mistakes as learning experiences, and assuming that there is a fair chance of risks being successful.
Most creative and innovative departments in an organization regard competitiveness as an important aspect of their culture. According to Read (1996, p. 226), competitiveness in organizations has shifted to the creation and assimilation of knowledge. In creating a culture of competitiveness managers should reach out to internal and external knowledge, encourage debating of ideas, create an environment in which constructive conflict will lead to information flow, support projects based on information flow and actively manage the choice of organizational design. Support for change is a value that will influence creativity and innovation positively (Arad et al., 1997; Tushman and O’Reilly, 1997). Managers can create a culture that supports change by looking for new and improved ways of working, creating a vision that emphasizes change and revealing a positive attitude towards change (Arad et al., 1997; Tushman and O’Reilly, 1997). An example of a culture in which change is supported is to expect personnel, when stating their annual objectives for the year, to indicate how they intend changing their work methods.
Tolerance of conflict and handling conflict constructively are values that support creative and innovative behaviour in organizations (Mumford et al., 1997; Robbins, 1997; Judge et al., 1997). When there is conflict between different ideas, perceptions and ways in which information is processed and evaluated, the process of handling conflict should be handled constructively to promote creativity and innovation. Understanding different individual thinking styles and training personnel in the process of constructive confrontation will create a culture supportive of creativity and innovation.
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