Week 9: Innovation and Change Management

Managing and Organizations: An Introduction to Theory and Practice: Third Edition (2011) by Stewart R Clegg, Martin Kornberger, and Tyrone Pitsis; Sage Publications: UK. Ch. 10

Being an Information Innovator Rowley, Jennifer (2010) Facet Publishing; Chapter 1: innovation and entrepreneurship in information organizations

Olson, J. A. (1999). What academic librarians should know about creative thinking. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 25(5), 383-389. doi: 10.1016/S0099-1333(99)80057-3

In every organisational environment, change is inevitable whether it is planned or in the process of emerging, internal or external, reactive or proactive. Change is one thing you can always count on as a factor in life. What is interesting is how individuals and organisations’ attitudes to change and their response which can be pivotal between cultural disintegration or opportunities for innovation. Communication and information technologies are revolutionising at such a pace that the information professionals’ work environments are perpetually evolving and entrepreneurship and reinvention are now the new professional norms. This week in our literature, we were considering varieties of change organisation experiences and the utilities for managing change and nurturing innovation. One day perhaps, we will as managers have to consider the role of creativity in every day work and traits that will nurture these evolving roles.

Olson argues that librarians need to explore their individual creativity. He contends that creative thinking is an underutilized problem solving skill that can be learnt and applied to any circumstance. This article examines how librarians understand, develop and utilise their creative thinking aptitudes and skills in the workplace, i.e. an academic library. The article is divided under the following  headings: Creative thinking principles; Attributes to complement creative thinking; Critical thinking versus creative thinking; Creative thinking for librarians; The external workplace; The internal workplace; Creative thinking and library organizational culture; Institutional culture; Empowerment. He argues that creative input must be seen and evaluated equally on all levels of the academic library organisational culture. ‘Creativity has no hierarchy’.  Organisational creativity has huge factors to consider on the administration style, size and structure of the organisation. Olson projects forth the motion that administrators should foster the creative ability of each individual as it can greatly improve problem-solving.  Olson argues that creativity has been largely under examined. He does pose the challenge that coordinating and developing aspects of creative thinking is a challenge and unfortunately does not quite address this challenge sufficiently. Nevertheless he raises consciousness about the traits that are crucial in creative individuals. Creative thinkers possess high levels of self-confidence, ambition, perseverance and motivation. They are in the mode of learning and don’t fear risks or making mistakes. Creative thinkers employ mistakes as an extension of their learning process thus a method to success instead of an end point. Olson reiterates that through brain-storming techniques can help to avoid premature evaluations and breathe new life into old ideas. Also it requires reflectivity and allows ideas to be assessed in a more complete manner in an unbiased environment. Creative thinkers and creatively culturally organisations consistently re-evaluate the rules and environment. This is hugely empowering for academic library organisations can greatly alter a library’s culture. An organisation’s culture environment is defined by the communal organisation’s recognised behaviours and values. Olson warns that culture needs to evolve and grow and creative thinking is such an asset for maintaining the verve of the organisation. He ends with a quote from Robert Kennedy, he said: ‘Some men look at what is and ask why? I look at what is not and ask why not’. Creativity is crucial for organisational culture as it promotes including the individual into the organisation and consistent renegotiation is pivotal for the success of transformative change in addressing organisation culture and information literacy for both the information professional and the client. Barker, Shepstone and Currie both have case studies that also categorise creativity and communication as key to organisation culture and innovation and change management.

Apologies I went on a rant there, but I love Olson’s article and think it should incorporated into all organisations. I’ll wind back again and say that I think change management is possibly one of the most fascinating aspects of management. I loved Rowley’s article as it comforted me that a manager’s job or ‘entrepreneur’, isn’t the perceived view of being locked in an office starring at a monitor away from the drama of work.  In chapter 10 of Managing and Organisations there were different actions of innovating organisations. Weick and Westley’s (1999) once again reiterated the importance of improvisation and improvisation is the first thing anyone will do. A first step of a baby is improvised, the first word that comes out of a mouth is improvised. Improvisation is fundamental to our learning process and therefore is key to our professional development. There is always risk trying out something new, but evolving and changing is so fruitful to developing organisations, stagnation is defeat, no matter what way you look at it!

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