Fostering innovation and creativity workplaces: Organization Development Perspectives

Fostering workplace innovation creativity Justine Chinoperekweyi

Tomorrow is uncertain, yes; it is increasingly uncertain – things are rapidly changing. The covid-19 pandemic has literally forced all organizations to radically and abruptly change, organize, and re-strategize their manufacturing and distribution models. There is no doubt that innovation and creativity are fundamental preconditions for individuals, teams, organizations, and societies to thrive… Why?! Heeding from the 1964 Bob Dylan’s title track, the answer is that ‘the times, they are a-changin’. As ‘the times, they are a-changin’ the need for relentless innovation and creativity cannot be overemphasized. Individuals, teams and organizations should start swimming, lest they will sink like a stone. Organization Development (OD) values offer an indisputable compass guiding organizations in the right direction.

The key intervention during these tumultuous times is adopting values-based change leadership. There is a tremendous need to embrace, in every fabric of an organization, all-encompassing OD values. These are values that recognize that an organization is not a static system but a complex, dynamic, social system, influenced by ambiguous internal and external forces and factors. Most organizations shirk these fundamental OD values because they have accumulated and adopted well-developed beliefs about approaches to change, organizing and strategies for improvement. However, the covid-19 pandemic reinforced that ‘the times, they are a-changin’, and it is only through fostering continuous, agile innovation and creativity that organizations and society thrive.

What are some of the OD values that organizations should embed in their strategic and operational plans? Rather than being guided by a ‘culture of lip-service’ and merely following nascent management fads, corporate leaders need to promote such values as enhancing career foresight through self-analysis, system thinking and circular visioning, relentless spirit of inquiry, constellations of strengths, intolerance of mediocrity, insightful dialogue, and inclusion & respect. Promoting such development-focused mindsets across all organizational members addresses the technical and adaptive challenges brought about by the changing times through:

  • Enabling all organizational members to be aware of their biases, stereotypes, and mental modes that impede organizational growth,
  • Facilitating fact-based, integrative decision-making,
  • Enhancing perception and intelligence by questioning all issues,
  • Valuing collaboration and nurturing healthy work relationships,
  • Enhancing operational excellence through harmonious relationships, and
  • Valuing perspectives and opinions of all members.

The multi-disciplinary OD field has tools and interventions that facilitate systematic progression in organizations. Corporate leaders and all other organizational members need to come to terms with the aphorism that OD science, theory, practice, and values are critical to business success and strategy through the promotion of widespread learning, engagement and constant inquiry that enhances the capacity of organizations to thrive through actively dealing with mega-disruptions. The field arms an organization with discovery and prediction techniques to further the achievement of the strategic intent, even during a crisis. OD values enable organizations to be responsive to trends, opportunities, shocks, and pressures and to resolve the complex and disruptive challenges in organizational life. In order to sustain positive behaviors and create an innovation and creativity breeding ground, organizations should avoid:

  • Perpetuating cultures of shame,
  • Misinformed employee evaluation and reward systems,
  • Corporate complacency,
  • Growth of ‘energy vampires’ in the workplace, and
  • Misaligned training and education programmes.

The OD field relies on conversations; hence, let’s get the conversations going regarding how we can engage in developing OD competencies within your team and organization. Looking forward to your thoughts on this matter as it relates to your organization and indeed your community.

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