Experimental Corral: Overcoming Barriers to Innovation

I must say that while cutting jobs at the ABS is not a good thing, the issue of management culture as a barrier to innovative practices has been a lifelong bug-bear for me! Janine O'Flynn's comments on the research literature suggest that organisational 'culture' and the ability to change it, or the consequence of not changing it, is controversial.

Nevertheless, one approach I stumbled upon years ago was to have a dedicated part of the organisation engaged in experimental and innovative practices. This entails having an area of the business or organisation which operates outside of the normal business practices. The idea is that innovative practices can be trialled, piloted and tested before becoming part of normal operations.

Innovation involves risk. But the risk of failure is inevitable in experimental and innovative practices; yet taking such risks provides opportunities for research and development which are often inaccessible to innovative practitioners within existing structures.

Centring the inherent risks of experimental and innovative practice in a deliberate area of the organisation can assist managers to limit the impact of such risks on the organisation as a whole.

Social networks are a great place to start. As I have mentioned elsewhere here, social networking tools are quickly replacing email, and organisations which can learn to harness the power of these tools will have a clear advantage over the competition. The reluctance of many organisations to embrace New Media technologies suggests that an 'experimental corral' would facilitate those who are willing to take the risks for the greater good of the organisation.