Handbook of Organizational and Managerial Innovation

Handbook of Organizational and Managerial Innovation

Elgar original reference

Edited by Tyrone S. Pitsis, Ace Simpson and Erlend Dehlin

The Handbook of Organizational and Managerial Innovation places humans, their acts, practices, processes and fantasies at the core of innovation. Bringing together some of the world’s leading thinkers, academics and professionals, both established and emerging, this multidisciplinary book provides a comprehensive picture of the vibrant and engaging field of organizational and managerial innovation.

Chapter 9: Living ideas at work

Arne Carlsen and Lloyd Sandelands

Subjects: business and management, organisational innovation, organisational behaviour, strategic management, innovation and technology, organisational innovation


Sometimes, when you work with ideas in organizations, a set of peculiar things happens. Say you have organized a workshop or just engaged in a more informal brain-storming session with colleagues. Inspired by supposed truths that quantity of ideas breeds quality (e.g., Simonton, 2004) you may have tried to generate many and distinctly different ideas. Inspired by advocates of knowledge combination (e.g., Koestler [1964] 1989; Hargadon, 2003) you may have taken great care to bring people with different backgrounds together and systematically used analogues from other domains to further enrich the combinatory efforts. After all the hard work you emerge from what seemed like a wonderful discussion to a prioritized list of ideas. On the wall are all the products of your efforts; the best new ideas listed and labelled, maybe also numbered and visualized. And then, by mystery, right there, seemingly out of nothing, it may all die. It is as if the lively joint creative activities have somehow been frozen, congealed into a nothingness of a list that nobody wants to pursue. It happens quickly if it is hard to see the connections between the rich discussion and the necessarily thin abstractions on the wall. It happens with the speed of light if someone leans back and utters: ‘This looks like the list we made half a year ago, there is nothing really new here’. It is over. Let’s go home.

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