Organisational structure can inhibit or foster creativity and innovation.
The problem with organisational structure though is that it is resultant of many factors, including history, organic growth, strategy, operational design, product diversity, logistics, marketing, client base, supplier base and so forth.
Therefore, what managers need, are not recipes for complete structural change, but insights into the properties of fostering structures that can be adapted into the existing structure.
To start, it is useful to analyse the preferred structures against the not so preferred.
There are many definitions of types of organisational structure, but one example is:
a) Mechanistic Structures (generally not preferred)
- Centralised control and authority
- Clearly defined tasks
- Vertical communication links
- Obedience to supervisors
- Rigidity and inflexibility
b) Organic Structures (generally preferred)
- Decentralisation of authority
- Tasks loosely defined
- Horizontal communications
- Greater individual authority
Experience shows that the above can be misleading
For example, flat organisations are generally preferred and hierarchical ones not preferred, however, even flat organisations are in reality hierarchical.
Importantly, if we have a mechanistic structure, what factors allow us to move in the right direction without wholesale change?
Some answers include:
a) Direct communication links to decision-makers.
b) Communication and information flow between departments.
c) Tangible progression of ideas from problem to solution, product development to commercialisation.
d) Creative teams working outside but linked into the organisation, whose culture, processes etc diffuse into the existing structure.
This article was contributed by Kal Bishop, MBA
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