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Innovation Management: Corporate Man

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Innovation Management

Establishing terminology and frames of reference helps set the context and build a solid foundation from which we can have an intelligent conversation about this topic.

Creativity and Innovation are very often confused. For example, one popular author recently defined innovation as “…any idea that generates wealth.” That’s lazy thinking.

A good definition of creativity is that it is problem identification and idea generation whereas innovation is idea selection, development and commercialisation.

Within idea generation, a further definition is valuable: the number of ideas produced, the novelty of the ideas produced, the diversity of ideas produced and the frequency of their production.

Corporate Man

In many lectures, the concept of the Corporate Man rears its head.

The myth of Corporate Man is based on suspect ideas such as a) businesses are not creative, b) managers are not creative / they are automatons, c) Corporate Man is functional and hence cannot be creative.

This idea that businesses are not creative is incorrect – they are highly creative entities where products and services must be developed, competitive advantage maintained and profit made etc. These are very creative activities, especially for senior players. In any one business, hundreds if not thousands of small to large problems need to be solved everyday – individuals are moved from an original state to a goal state, in other words, creativity is an implicit part of everyday activity.

Stereotypes often exist because there is truth to them on some level and this must be addressed.

The Corporate Man stereotype, if it applies at all, will do so most often to less senior individuals whose function is closer to maintenance on some level: maintaining the process, maintaining the infrastructure, maintaining order, fulfilling functional tasks and so forth. The concept stems from Taylorism and Fordism and the traditional manufacturing industry, where tasks are made short and simple to increase overall output. Further, the stereotype applies more to manufacturing than service or knowledge based industries.

Moving along this path we come up against the problem of instilling creative capacity / motivation to the “lower tasks.”

And that leads us to motivation theory, theory X and theory Y.

Learn more…

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Kal Bishop, MBA


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  • Posted On December 19, 2006
  • Published articles 283513

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