In an upbeat market, the aim is to change the rules of the game to achieve first-mover advantage to capture market share. On the other hand, in a highly competitive downbeat market one is trying to stimulate spending with fresh new ‘must have’ product or service offerings to stave off bankruptcy.
The first condition is somewhat easier to deal with – the level of organizational energy is high, creativity is running rampant, a lot of people are ‘doing their own thing’ toward a common goal and most importantly the cash is flowing – and a few mistakes don’t matter that much.
For the second condition, things are not so easy – cash flow is tight, employees are being laid-off and organisational confidence is flagging! More importantly, the demands to ‘circle the wagons’ and hunker down to survive the storm is paramount.
The latter situation is where HR recruitment and development strategies are exposed to the light of day.
Contemporary recruitment practices concentrate on hiring employees who ‘will fit in here!’; where power and influence are centralised and one is expected to embrace the organisational culture, be a team player, and most importantly ‘toe the party line!’
The much-published author Chris Argyris has argued for decades that to be an innovative organisation it is important to place some ‘..square pegs in round holes..’ when recruiting.
There is an inter-relationship between market pressures; intra-firm interdependence of diversely skilled team members (i.e., members with differentiated cognitive schema of the problem area) in innovation teams leads to ‘task complexity’. Task complexity in conjunction with time pressures leads to greater team coordination through mutual adjustment and information flows within the team. This speeds information sharing among team members and reduces time to complete complex tasks found in the innovation process.
Time and money saved!
Whilst organisational social networks may incorporate differentiated mental models of the innovation problem area, they can also incorporate a centralised knowledge base and an integrated mental model of the problem area. Thus, highly diffused modes of employee (referred to as Actor) power and influence in organisations is likely to lead to the creation of diversity in knowledge and opinions.
Power centralisation is the dominance of the opinions of a few over the many, which in turn diminishes the potential for harnessing divergent and creative thinking – the antithesis of innovation. ‘Power centrality’ within the intra-firm manager-employee network is inversely related to innovation!
How does this look graphically?
Figure 1 represents a centralised power and influence organisation with ‘Low’ innovation!
Figure 2 represents a decentralised power and influence organisation with ‘High’ innovation!
My guess? Most organisations’ power and influence condition looks like Figure 1; hence low innovation outcomes!
Didn’t President Obama recently state: America has to innovate itself out of the current economic malaise? What about Europe and…..?
Time to rethink recruitment practices?