2. Effective managers facilitate and promote innovation in an organization. Discuss.
Nowadays innovation is a necessity for a company or an organization to achieve success and to
sustain in the ever-growing competitive environment. A manager should accomplish his key
roles and should possess certain features for him to be effective. Managers and supported staff at
times take an entrepreneurial role as part of their work. By being in touch with peers
(interdepartmental perspective), customers and suppliers, they can spot opportunities in the
business environment which will allow sustained growth. There are a number of factors through
which a manager can assist, create and encourage innovation in an organization. Yet, there do
have certain managerial and organizational barriers which need to be overcome for innovation to
take place. Before discussing the innovative role of a manager, it is important to know the
different roles played by managers in an organization.
There are different levels of management in an organization ranging from the board of directors
followed by the chief executive, Middle managers to junior managers (foreman/supervisors). The
job roles of each level involve a range of different responsibility, skills and duties. This may
usually include setting targets, delegating tasks and controlling tasks. Workers need to be
encouraged, supported, complimented (or reprimanded) in order to ensure that the target set are
Henri Fayol (1949) stated that „to manage means to plan, to organize, to motivate, to control, to
The different roles of a manager can be grouped into five key management functions which are:
1) Planning- deciding the objectives/ goals of the organization
2) Organizing – putting plans into operation which involves organizing resources such as labour
force, capital and money so that production can take place.
3) Motivating- meeting the social and psychological needs of the employees. The managers use
both financial and non-financial incentives to help employees achieve the objectives of the
4) Controlling- managers must measure and evaluate performance to ensure that it meets the
requirement of the plan. If deviation is identified, corrective measures are taken.
5) Coordinating – bringing all the groups in the organization together. It takes place in order to
ensure that they are all working towards the common goals/objectives of the organization.
3. However, nothing was said about what managers need to know or what managers need to do in
order to be able to carry out the above functions. In recent years, researchers have identified
areas of knowledge and skills required to perform these functions.
The list comprises the following knowledge and skills which a manager requires in order to
1. Command of basic facts, for example, a marketing manager needs to know how the
market operates in general, the techniques of advertising.
2. Relevant professional knowledge, for example, knowledge about the specific product,
how to consume them, how to promote them
3. Problem-solving, decision-making skills
4. Social skills, i.e., an awareness of social needs and a desire to help members of society-
5. Emotional resilience, i.e., the ability to spring back(recover) quickly from any emotional
6. Self knowledge
7. Learning habits and skills
8. Mental agility, i.e., the ability to judge and take quick decisions.
9. Pro-activity, i.e., responding purposefully to events, showing determination to achieve
10. Creativity, i.e., breaking down and restructuring our knowledge about a phenomenon in
order to gain new insights into its nature. In fact „creativity‟ is one of the pre-requisites
Managers have to adopt certain roles and behaviours, ranging from the aggressive adventurer to
the people oriented enabler and „animateur‟, in support of innovation. There are a number of
roles that can elicit innovation development and create change in different business contexts:
a. The adventurer-a major risk taker whose courage and forcefulness are indispensible
in making huge changes in strategy required to enter new and difficult markets.
b. The leader- gives a sense of direction and discipline by ensuring that new projects
are associated with their vision for the organization.
c. The change agent- displays management and political skills in order to manage
change programmes and overcome resistance to change.
d. The enabler-uses behavioural skills to encourage people to question ideas and come
up with forward looking ideas through collaboration with insiders and outsiders.
4. e. The ‘animateur’- humanizes and enlivens the organization as a living social system.
A supportive atmosphere is developed where there is trust for individual and group
risk taking in pursuit of innovation.
Innovation is similar but not identical to invention. Invention is only part of the process whereby
innovation is more holistic and incorporates both creation or discovery aspects and utilization
aspects. Innovators are generally attentive to changes which give them clues to what
opportunities may come in the future. In order to continue riding, the industry life cycle before
maturity and decline, firms need to innovate continually. Innovation is the key to business
survival and growth and by extension for a country‟s economic growth.
People rightly associate effective managerial ventures with innovation. A successful manager
brings something new to the market place, a unique product/service that adds value for customer
and thereby differentiates the company from its competitors and gives it a competitive
advantage. However, innovation cannot be a one-off happening if the company wants to survive
and thrive in a competitive environment. Sustained innovation is only possible if the organization
has the right entrepreneurial people, the flexible organization structures, the management
systems in place and the innovative culture and climate that favour risk taking in psychological
safety. It is then possible to consistently and sustainably create value for customers.
Creativity results in the production of new ideas, innovation ensure materialization of the idea
into a business opportunity and the entrepreneur creates market value in the marketplace by
exploiting the opportunity commercially. The manager is therefore instrumental in linking
creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship by displaying a high propensity for both creativity
and opportunity perception. This in turn leads to the success of the company.
Effective managers can enable and sustain innovation for the organization to stay aggressive and
responsive to market conditions. This can be done by:
1) Preserving an innovation friendly culture
For example by avoiding complacency, by being outwardly focused and not
punishing failures; by welcoming new ideas and creative people, rewarding acts of
creativity, avoiding bureaucracy in handling new ideas and downplaying hierarchy.
2) Establishing strategic direction
For example, by establishing a vision and mission whereby strategy related
boundaries will channel creative energies into areas of greatest pay-off potential as
defined by company strategy.
5. 3) Being personally involved with innovation
Some of the most successful executives have been most effective when they have
been rubbing elbows with bench scientists and technicians in the R&D laboratory.
Examples are Bill Hewlett, David Packard and Bill gates. Leaders should therefore
stay close to sources of innovation within the organization as it grows. Staying close
sends a powerful signal to employees that innovation matters and keeps leaders up to
date on technical and market issues.
4) Continually improving the idea- Commercialization Process
Quite often, ideas produced, are conceived and subsequently developed in an
informal manner. However, in order to encourage a sustained flow of ideas and
innovations, a systematic innovation process needs to be adopted. Steps include a
process for idea generation recognizing which ideas(s) has potential, evaluation of
those ideas followed by development and commercialization. Developing and
improving the innovation process is the most important task of founders and
5) Hiring people who have entrepreneurial attitudes
Executives should look for potential recruits who have a good feel for technologies
important to the company and who display a genuine curiosity about the stated and
latent needs of customers. Those people are comfortable with change; view unmet
needs as opportunities, enjoy collaborative work and think and act like entrepreneurs
in a participative management spirit.
6) Effective communication of ‘new ideas/processes’ to members of staff
The message should be clarified so that the receiver gets to think and do exactly as
the manager wishes. The latter should be empathetic, that is, putting themselves in the
place of the receiver; should encourage feedback to ensure the right meaning is
conveyed; should match message to audience, for example, avoid technical language
when communicating with lay people. Managers should tell the truth about the
business, its performance and the factors influencing same build credibility and
enhance sense of belonging. Face to face communication also reduces
misunderstanding because it gives non-verbal clues and immediate feedback is
7) Creating a culture of innovation
Once managers/leaders have helped to establish the vision and strategy, organizations
need to set up a culture of innovation. In general, innovative entrepreneurial cultures
6. allow divergent thinking, develops management support and tolerates failure (instead
id punishing it).
a. Divergent thinking
It focuses on broadening the context of decision making and requires three central
skills: conversation, observation and reflection. Managers who promote divergent
thinking start by hiring the right people with entrepreneurial characteristics.
Managers develop the innovation culture by motivating people, giving them data
and information required for informed decision-making, provide resources, ample
time and support to achieve results, they respect people‟s capabilities and allow
them to develop their potential.
b. Supervisory encouragement
Managers for innovation do not delegate the responsibility for innovation only to
a group (e.g. Research& Development), but also to others at all levels. Their role
is rather to call for, recognize and acknowledge innovation from others. „Middle
manager entrepreneurs‟ should enable innovation through assuming the career
risk of supporting new ideas by providing corporate resources and overcoming
resistance. Management and supervisory encouragement creates and nurtures the
climate for innovation. Conversely, „traditional management‟ may be
characterized by negativity and lack of enthusiasm, which discourages creativity.
Such managers rather look for reasons not to pursue the idea, e.g. highlight the
c. Failure as learning opportunity
„Traditional‟ management often punishes failures and this acts as a negative
reinforcement. What follows is a climate of fear of risk taking and a propensity to
maintain this status quo. Tolerating failures in an organization fosters a culture of
innovation by telling people they have to learn the hard way- by taking the risk of
making mistakes. People occasionally fail and learn from failures, for example,
realizing what does not work can be as informative as knowing what works.
7. 8) Concept of job satisfaction
It assesses the amount of satisfaction a worker derives in his job and improvements
introduced whenever and are closely associated with motivation. It is the
management‟s responsibility to be aware of their employees‟ needs and to act
accordingly. Differences in individual always exist and the manager should realize
that individual weaknesses and strengths go hand in hand. The recent works of
Maslow, Herzberg and McGregor have shown the importance of the nature of work,
and its structure to motivation. The important part to be satisfied in working which
acts as an individual factor to the hierarchy of needs, the hygiene conditions or the
reorganization of the situation of Theory X that job satisfaction is essential and is
associated to environmental conditions and inducements in pay. Thus it is important
to determine the qualities needed and possessed by the employees. With the use of
job evaluation and personal techniques, the manager can detect elements of
monotony, boredom etc and hence adopt alternative stimulants for improvement.
9) Likert’s four management systems
a. The Exploitative Authoritative System
-„traditional‟ management system whereby managers took decisions and set out
standards and methods and employees were either threatened or punished if they
did not meet the manager‟s goal.
b. The Benevolent Authoritative System
A certain amount of flexibility given to subordinates to carry out their
assignments with certain limits and procedures still issued by the manager.
Employees were rewarded if they met or exceeded the manager‟s goal.
c. The Consultative System
Subordinates are free to discuss most work related discuss with their managers
who in turn trust their subordinates as far as carrying out their tasks properly.
d. The Participative Group System
The goals and decisions are what are desired by the group in general. Decisions
made by managers are done after incorporating the suggestions and opinions of
the group members, in some cases decisions made may not be the one favoured
by the manager personally.
The fourth management system is the ideal one whereby most organizations should
work toward. Subordinates are motivated not only by monetary rewards. Managers
8. try to give their subordinates a feeling of self-worthiness and importance.
Performance standards exist to permit self-appraisal by subordinates rather than
provide managers with a tool of control.
10) Managers with leadership skills
Since management is the process of getting things done by others, leadership skills
are indispensable for managers. For instance, employees need motivation by effective
leadership to increase productivity, to work overtime if necessary, or to produce
quality products and services. Leadership implies: skills to lead; ability to win co-
operation and loyalty; courage to accomplish an assigned task. The factors which will
influence a manager‟s choice of styles are as follows:
1. The types of organization
2. The amount of confidence and trust existing between management and employees
3. The nature of the communication and decision-making process and thus the
amount of participation
4. The nature of the work and motivational influences
Strategies can emerge from various levels in the organization, not only managerial. Not all
managerial styles and organization systems will facilitate innovation development. Therefore,
organizational barriers and resistance need to be overcome and assistance and support for
interaction has to be put in place.
1. Overcoming managerial barriers to innovation
Managers of corporations act as trustees of shareholders and therefore have a duty
to exercise caution, stewardship and control. They also have a duty to maximize
return on investment of shareholders and this is not compatible with innovation.
Managerial inactivity can be overcome by striking the right balance between
efficiency and effectiveness. This can be brought about by a change in attitude of
managers. Toulouse, (1990) identifies the following attitudes that altogether bring
a. Valuing individual or collective initiative
b. Seeing determination and perseverance as being desirable
c. Striking a balance between security and risk
d. Reducing the tension between stability and change
9. 2. Overcoming organizational barriers to innovation
As firms grow, growth tends to be built on a system of rules and procedures
which dictate how the work will be done in future. However, business
environments keep changing and such rules and procedures can quickly become
obsolete, as well as structures and cultures. A solution to this is strategic planning.
This process requires development of a vision, mission and objectives. It includes
an analysis of the business environment to uncover strengths, weaknesses,
opportunities and threats. From an analysis of these (SWOT analysis) a number of
strategic options will emerge from which the firm will choose appropriate
strategic directions based on its resources and capabilities. The strategic
management process takes care of the changing business environment. It brings
the culture change and change in mindset necessary to overcome organizational
barriers to innovation.
3. Peter Drucker, 1985 considers that the essence of innovation is the development of
new or different processes, products or services that utilize resources more
productively than before. If the right management policies are out in place,
then innovation can be a normal incidence.
a. Planning for obsolescence
Make it company policy to systematically place all activities „on trial‟ for their
lives. In this way all products and practices that are unproductive will become
obsolete. For example, managers should answer critical questions on the
contribution products and processes make to customer value-added.
b. Promote role models
Use successful innovators as role models. To send a clear message that innovative
behavior is appreciated, role models are called upon to present their success to
peers, to show the road to success and also to highlight how to avoid pitfalls in a
learning organization approach.
c. Achieve an innovation orientation
10. Change from performance oriented to innovation oriented. This is done by
recruiting appropriate people, providing management support. It also means that
organization has to retain those who are innovation oriented though they may lack
managerial or organizational skills.
d. Create a flexible organization structure
Create flexible organization with a matrix structure, whereby people from
different departments cooperate as a team on a project. The matrix structure
combines the efficiency of the functional approach with the responsiveness of the
divisional approach to organization structure.
e. Reward innovation
Reward innovators to motivate them and sustain innovative attitudes and
behavior. The trend is towards profit sharing whereby new venture personnel are
paid a percentage of profits they contribute to generate. It is not uncommon to
propose equity share in new ventures or to give an opportunity to advance within
the administrative or the technical hierarchy through promotion. Motivation can
also take form of increased autonomy (for example, self managed teams).
In a concluding note, effective manager need to use formal sets of knowledge as well as trust
their “gut feelings” as a person. On the technical side, they need to be able to problem solve, use
specialty skills, and apply applicable training. On the other side, they need such skills as being
able to understand others and think quickly. Many people with little or no formal training are
excellent managers because they are good with people and very adaptable. Practical life
experience and improving on mistakes in the past are also skill builders of management
technique. Competitive organizations understand being innovative some of the time, in one or
two fields just won‟t work. The key to an organization‟s survival is consistent innovation and
this requires structures, systems and a culture to be put in place that contribute to innovation
through changes that create value for their existing and potential customers.
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