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Why learning in business is becoming fluid and lively – the relationship between the academic and the student has flipped.
Fig.1. Henry Mintzberg
Drawing on a business model, the development of a more organic structure that is less hierarchical, as envisaged by Mintzberg (1994), seems appropriate; it complements what authors such as John Seely Brown say about ‘learning from the periphery’ too.
Fig.2. Part of a mind-map created while preparing for a written exam on ‘Creativitiy, Innovation and Change’
Characteristics of an adhocracy (Waterman, 1990; Mintzberg, 1994; Travica, 1999):
- highly organic structure
- little formalization of behavior
- job specialization based on formal training
- a tendency to group the specialists in functional units for housekeeping purposes but to deploy them in small, market-based project teams to do their work
- a reliance on liaison devices to encourage mutual adjustment within and between these teams
- low standardization of procedures
- roles not clearly defined
- selective decentralization
- work organization rests on specialized teams
- power-shifts to specialized teams
- horizontal job specialization
- high cost of communication (dramatically reduced in the networked age)
- culture based on non-bureaucratic work
Fig. 3. Handy’s Shamrock (1989)
The advantage of a flexible organisation is that it can react quickly to a change in its external environment.
Since the 1990s, firms have examined their value chain and tried to reduce their workforce to a multi-skilled core, which is concerned with the creation or delivery of a product or service. All other supporting, non-central functions are outsourced wherever possible to the periphery.
Charles Handy suggested, however, that organisations do not consist of just the Core and the Periphery, since the periphery can be subdivided.
He calls this a shamrock organisation:
The first leaf of the shamrock represents the multi-skilled core of professional technicians and managers, essential to the continuity of the business
The second leaf Handy calls the contractual fringe, because non central activities are contracted out to firms specialising in activities such as marketing, computing, communications and research
The third leaf consists of a flexible workforce made up of part-time, temporary and seasonal workers.
Brown, John Seely (2007) Exploring the potential of Web 2.0 techniques and applications in higher and distance education, informal and lifelong learning
Handy, C (1989) The Age of Unreason
Mintzberg, H (1994), The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning: Reconceiving the Roles for Planning, Plans, Planners, Free Press, pp. 458, ISBN 0-02-921605-2
Travica, B (1999) New Organizational Designs: Information Aspects, Ablex/Greenwood, ISBN 1-56750-403-5, Google Print, p.7
Waterman, R. H. (1990). Adhocracy: The power to change. The Larger agenda series. Knoxville, Tenn: Whittle Direct Books.
- Thoughts on Gestalt Product Strategy (onproductmanagement.net)
- Thesis Chapter 1 – Organizational Change On managerial Roles In Petroleum Development Of Oman (PDO). (thinkingbookworm.typepad.com)
- “The Structure of ‘Unstructured’ Decision Processes” is a fascinating 1976 paper by Henry Mintzberg,…” (caterpillarcowboy.com)
- Characteristics of Work Organisations (prmarketingcommunication.com)
The lack of control over where your head goes and what it reveals should understandably go with a note of considerable caution. There often is no such thing as an innocent dream. It sometimes throws me when what is apparent in the dream: its people, actions and events can once analysed tell you something you can’t accept or dislike about yourself or others.
Context is everything.
- What bothers you as you fall asleep?
- What’s on your mind?
A film you have just watched could very well fill your head; I’m still enjoying the afterglow of ‘500 days of summer’: troubled because its truth but delighted in the outcome.
It is less the dream diary, but a diary that can help you put your subconscious to work.
Should you write-up your troubled day, and should you care not only to bring work home with you but also take it to bed, then indeed, the issue that is strangling your budget, or losing you business friends could be resolved in a dream. Once you have that dream in the conscious arena you can even rework it like a TV producer changing the protagonists and outcomes.
I dreamt I was in a court of sorts (I can see it in my mind’s eye but will neither describe it or attempt to draw it unless some detail needs bringing out).
I presume I was a prosecuting solicitor.
Two trials cut together one after the other (have dreams always been film literate?). The second case is a rape; he is ‘cock sure’ thankfully there is no murder involved. He deserves to receive the severest punishment. The previous case with a different barrister had gone off like a damp squib; perhaps it wasn’t as serious a case but I felt the person had got off lightly and I blamed the barrister for not following my instructions suitably closely. In this second trial I have a word-perfect summing up which I might expect this new barrister to follow. On the contrary, I find this person launch in more like a hack journalist/columnist than a prosecuting lawyer. I worry that the defendant will get off lightly; however, it soon dawns on me that this person is using my argument but not the script and like a stand-up comic (though with professionalism and the hint of a smile of confidence) they will deliver a knock-out blow: they have taken what I can provide and made it better.
Does this solve my problem?
It doesn’t answer something specific. If the photocopier is broken and never gets fixed I don’t think I’d turn to my ‘dream spirits’ for the answer.
Does it even suggest to you that this approach has legs?
Me, I’m the defence solicitor, not the barrister. I may not solve the ‘problem’ the defendant, though I make my contribution.
Nor have I had to resort to a set of 27 questions to reach this point (see below).
I do not imagine sitting with a bunch of colleagues interpreting their dreams would be appropriate or suitable; they ate too random, and so are we. But I do recommend this approach for personal problem resolution, but be warned, you may try to get your dreams to set out your next career move only to discover that in your heart you hate your job and sector and wish instead to teach English to Japanese school-girls.
The OU Student at Christmas. At my desk, the house asleep. A few hours distracted reading the posts of fellow OU students who have been posting since 12.03 this morning. Nothing onerous, I have notes to post on B822 ‘Creativity, Innovation and Change’ in preparation for a Residential School in the second week of January and a Tutor Marked Assignment to deliver in early February. The challenge is to apply creative problem solving techniques to a real business problem. The temptation is to go for something big, the realist would take something manageable.
Meanwhile, the oven is already on, to bake some pain au chocolat and in due course to take a ham from Tannings Farm, here in Sussex.
QQ1 Do some organisational characteristics promote lower, more adaptive, creative acts but impede more radical creativity?
QQ2 Do some conditions that stimulate the radical block block the adaptive kind of creative acts?
ANS: Yes, but both have their place, as competitors or as contributors in in a production process. Ekvall did his research in an unnamed chemical business with four different factories and was able to compare two with similar activities but differing management processes. I liken it to the ICI Dulux plant (my imagineering), where the successful ‘adaptive’ factory produces White Paints, while the factory where ‘free creatives’ are at ‘play’ this is where buttermilk with pixie dust is made and has found a market.
Edited extract from Creativity and Innovation Management 6 (4), 195-205 (1997)
‘As risk taking and anxiety are ingredients of creative acts, culture elements that make risk taking and failure less threatening and dangerous are promoting of creative behaviour, whereas on situations where creative Initiatives are met with suspicion, defensiveness and aggression, the fear of failure, becomes strong and holds creativity back.’
However, having worked for a period in a highly ‘creative’ environment, there can be too much play, variety and thinking. There has to be an interplay, especially where clients, including stakeholders along the supply chain, are serviced. Advertising agencies have structures that contain the ‘creatives’ in the creative department, their revolutionary and disruptive antics kept well away from ‘planing’ or ‘account handling’, with the accountants potentially well clear in a different building or city.
‘A rational systematic, achievement-orientated culture, an administrative functioning style, that stresses systems, procedures, goals’.
This sounds like an adaptive organisation. It is worthy. Yet, catching a TV piece on MacLaren cars , I was struct how by the impression of a Renaissance studio putting out a series of similar masterpieces. There was creativity, of course, but also a system. The transition to far greater production volumes with vastly tighter turnaround times at each stage and station could be it’s undoing. What happens when the painters in the studio go from working on a masterpiece with a sense of ownership of each one, to ‘painting by numbers’ in order to fill order books?
Using the ‘creative climate questionnaire’ CCQ
Ekvall, 1991 and 1996
Conflicts are negative to creativity, debates positive.
Ekvall postulates (p141) if an organisation working with incremental and adaptive creativity stresses risk taking and freedom? Highly creative people (if there are any at all) with an ’innovative style’ Kirton (1987) will be stimulated and respond by presenting more radical ideas and problem solutions than before’. The ’adoptors’, will be uneasy and lose energy and motivation to solve problems.
High scores may block the radical creativity and innovation but promote the adaptive. P141
The study at the chemical company provides an indication that strict and clear structures, policies and rules are hindrances to higher level, innovative creativity and that more loose, vague and variable structures are prerequisites for such radical creative acts to be prevalent in the organisation.
All para from p141 to p142
Kirton (1987) the innovator is the person who challenges rules, dislikes routine work and takes control in unstructured situations.
For more read chapter 10 ‘Organizational Conditions and Levels of Creativity’ (1997) by Goran Ekvall pp135-145 in Henry, (2006) Creative Management and Development (3rd Ed.)
Ekvall, G. (1997) Edited extract from ‘Creativity and Innovation Management’, 6(4), 195-205
Kirton , M,J (1987) ’Adaptors and Innovators. Cognitive Style and Personality’. IN S.G. Isaksen (Ed.), Frontiers of Creativity Research, Buffalo: Bearly Ltd.
Unplugged from the regimented study planners of MAODE I find because I have a box of books and a file of inline resources I can dip in where I like.
Caught up in discussion about MBTI types I stumbled across this:
And did it, only to find it forms part of block 2 and comes into play at the Residential Schools in January.
Your score on Openness to Experience is high, indicating you enjoy novelty, variety, and change. You are curious, imaginative, and creative. High scorers on this scale use fantasy as a way of creating a richer, more interesting world.
High scorers on this scale love beauty, both in art and in nature.
Persons high on Emotionality have good access to and awareness of their own feelings.
High scorers on adventurousness are eager to try new activities, travel to foreign lands, and experience different things. They find familiarity and routine boring, and will take a new route home just because it is different.
Intellect and artistic interests are the two most important, central aspects of openness to experience.
High scorers on Intellect love to play with ideas.
They are open-minded to new and unusual ideas, and like to debate intellectual issues. They enjoy riddles, puzzles, and brain teasers.
Intellect is an intellectual style, not an intellectual ability, although high scorers on Intellect score slightly higher than low-Intellect individuals on standardized intelligence tests.
Your level of intellect is high. ∞
I am being disingenuous.
Having read ‘What makes a leader?’ Daniel Goleman in ‘Creative Management and Development’ Jane Henry (2006) I have some ideas.
Leaders I can think of, in business, in the creative industries, what is it about:
And then there’s personal experience, of being led, or leading.
In the mean time, what does it take?
And from a different mould, Seb Coe?
Vision, ideas, conviction, charisma, purpose …
You don’t learn to draw by reading a book, nor riding a bike or leading a team; you must do and learn from the experience, successes and mistakes.
WHAT DOES THE READING TELL ME?
An art not a science.
All have a high degree of emotional intelligence. Goleman (2006:120)
And effective performance.
Moods, emotions and drives and their effect on others.
To think before acting.
Finding common ground
Purely technical skills
Emotional intelligence Goleman (2006:121) by far the most important.
BUT how nurtured likely to matter, that ability to control emotions rather than respond to them.
What makes a highly effective leader?
A thirst for constructive criticism
A self-depreciating sense of humour
Play to strengths.
But most important of all Emotional intelligence.
VS Impulsive behaviour.
Self-regulation that frees us from being prisoners of our feelings (2006:126)
Creating an environment of trust.
Motivated to achieve.
Passion for the work itself
Keep track of scores.
Committed to the organisation
Thoughtfully considering the employees feelings.
Coaching and feedback.
N.B. emotional intelligence can be taught.
Goleman, D (2006) what makes a leader? In ‘creative management and development’ Henry, J.