Creative and Innovative Culture in Modern Organizations

Organizational Culture is an outcome of cultural processes at work in a particular setting and focuses on people and the shared meaning within them. An organization with a strong culture may find it difficult to adapt with changes. If they want to bring a culture of creativity then the organization may find it hard to cope with it. A strong culture will have people with commonalities and may lack diversity which is essential in generating new and different ideas. However, subcultures can exist in such organization with strong culture which may bring creativity as a result of diversity. Such divisions are responsible for giving a different option or a direction to the organization which can result to new frontiers.

Diversity is an integral element of an organization’s culture. A manager has to be aware of the differences that exist among various employees working in the organization. People in an organization do not always come from the same background. A manager needs to be aware of the differences between the employees in order to create a friendly working environment.

Organization, today, has come a long way from the classical approach of Max Weber (Bureaucracy and rationality) and F.W. Taylor (Division of Labour and Scientific Management). “Humans are appendage of industrial machines. Humans can be programmed to perform according to loads, pace and fatigue”- Max Weber. In order to establish a creative culture, people need to be given freedom to think and work. Weber’s theory will bring restrictions on the way people think and work by comparing human with machines. Similarly, Taylor’s Scientific Management theory suggests that certain knowledge, belief needs to be predetermined to create a culture. However, creativity can’t be molded by certain rules and regulations. In such a case, the result would not be original and hence, not creative. Darwin’s Theory of Evolution states that ”culture is a process of cultivation, i.e., the improvement of human condition” which helps create a creative culture as it focuses on betterment of the human condition. Similarly, HAS and IS Approach provides further light towards organizational culture. HAS approach states that culture is constructed by basic assumptions where as IS approach starts from a clean slate where culture is not defined which can help the creativity flourish as there are no boundaries that needs to be met by the people.

In recent times, a symbolic-interpretative approach or a postmodern approach is more popular where people and their behavior are given importance and actions carried out based on them. A symbolic-interpretative approach would create meaning by associating with human through shared values, traditions and customs whereas the postmodern approach is where managers are artist in themselves who are open to new ideas and based upon these knowledge and understanding come up with a new perspective with reference to the past.

Organizational Culture – A Symbol of the Organization

Organizational structure shows the relationship between members within the organization and the distribution of responsibilities and ultimately power. An organizational structure doesn’t necessarily influence the organizational culture. An organization may have a strong, bureaucratic culture or a creative culture regardless of the hierarchical structure. In large organization such as Apple, a creative culture exists despite a hierarchical organizational structure. However, creativity needs to fulfill the goals and objectives of the organization and proper communication is necessary between the staff and the managers. So, a flat organizational structure would help in better communication and instant reaction to any changes even if the organization has a Top-Down hierarchy.

Organizational Control helps to create an order to the activities carried out in an organization but it can affect the creativity of an organization as the essence of creativity is freedom and we know that organizational control is quite the opposite. The level of control needs to be determined in such a way that it won’t hamper the creativity of the staff. In order to create a creative environment, the control needs to be decentralized. Even though managers are in charge, the employees need to have space to come up with ideas without being controlled.

Language in the form of narrative and storytelling is essential in shaping a culture of an organization. Narration is bringing experience or sequence of episodes coherently into language. Narration helps improve communication between the manager and the employee resulting to better productivity. It even helps to improve quality of management and leadership and understand the direction the organization wants to take in the future. Stories can help people understand and get new ideas which will create a creative and innovative environment. People can relate to characters of the narration and learn from the events. For eg, learning about how Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computers, works can inspire people to come up with new ideas and be more innovative.

Organizational Change occurs when a new system is introduced and implemented. It is not easy to bring change to an organization. Changing any functioning of the organization will have to change the perception and attitude of the people as well. Such changes need to be handled delicately without upsetting any party. Cultural Change in organizations can be of three types: Apparent Change, Revolutionary Change and Cultural Change. Apparent Change adapts while preserving its identity whereas Revolutionary change is brought about by outsiders by destroying old ones and creating a completely new culture. However, if creative culture needs to be created, Cultural Incrementalism is a good choice. It incorporates the old culture from narratives along with new ideas to come up with a new culture. In our case, changing the way the people work by providing more freedom or brainstorming and discussion sessions incorporated in an existing culture results to cultural incrementalism and hence, a creative culture.

There are various theories on how change can be managed. Lewin’s Model: Unfreezing, Change, Refreezing is one of the most popular theory’s for managing change in an organization. However, we are focused on changing the culture into a creative culture. For this purpose, Big 3 Model of Change is appropriate rather than Lewin’s Model. Lewin’s Model is effective but it focuses more on the manufacturing and operational side of the organization and doesn’t take into account the human perspective. It plans and directs change. However, creativity in an organization can’t be planned or directed. Big 3 Model of Change focuses on change can be managed by responding, harnessing and provoking change. According to this model, there are three forces of change: Macroevolutionary (Environmental Level), Microevolutionary (Organisational Level) and Political (Individual Level). This model has been criticized to be too broad but due to its inclusion of behavior of people at different level and responding accordingly, makes it a better option towards managing change than Lewin’s Model.

While creating a creative and innovative culture, a manager should not stray away from the identity of the organization. A creative culture may not be suitable for all types of organization. The working environment needs to be understood before changing or creating a culture and the change needs to align with the identity of the organization. For eg, In a Cafe, creativity has very less to do. The employee has to perform task that is routine and there is no room for improvement in terms of creativity. The identity of the cafe is to provide good service to customers. Organizational identity has central, distinctive and enduring features. However, organizations’ identity is fluid and not stable. The organizational identity doesn’t always remain the same and keeps on evolving with time and environment. Culture and Identity of an organization go hand in hand. It is shaped by history and culture: it is about group feeling; allegiance to the state, but in an open society that can be wide and inclusive. It is always in the making and never made. So, if the organization needs to create an innovative and creative culture, the identity can be molded accordingly.

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