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Innovation Management ? Reducing Hierarchy

Creativity can be defined as problem identification and idea generation whilst innovation can be defined as idea selection, development and commercialisation.

There are other useful definitions in this field, for example, creativity can be defined as consisting of a number of ideas, a number of diverse ideas and a number of novel ideas.

There are distinct processes that enhance problem identification and idea generation and, similarly, distinct processes that enhance idea selection, development and commercialisation. Whilst there is no sure fire route to commercial success, these processes improve the probability that good ideas will be generated and selected and that investment in developing and commercialising those ideas will not be wasted.

Reducing Hierarchy

Theory consistently states that the reduction of hierarchy and "flat" organisations are better suited to increasing optimal performance. Reality shows us that even the flattest organisations have hierarchy and that it cannot be completely eliminated. Further, hierarchy has value ? for example, there are compelling arguments that people look for and follow good leaders.

But results from organisations that consciously and forcefully attempt to reduce status differences produce superior results:

a) Good leaders, though of higher status, make others feel valuable by increasing their value and hence status.

Status deference hinders rather than increases output:

a) People tend to shut down when confronted by higher status individuals.

b) People tend to put greater value to the input of higher status individuals.

c) People tend to allow higher status individuals to get away with bad decision-making.

d) The competitive rush to attain a higher status creates restriction of information, which lessens intellectual cross-pollination.

These and other topics are covered in depth in the MBA dissertation on Managing Creativity & Innovation, which can be purchased (along with a Creativity and Innovation DIY Audit, Good Idea Generator Software and Power Point Presentation) from

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Kal Bishop, MBA


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Kal Bishop is a management consultant based in London, UK. He has consulted in the visual media and software industries and for clients such as Toshiba and Transport for London. He has led Improv, creativity and innovation workshops, exhibited artwork in San Francisco, Los Angeles and London and written a number of screenplays. He is a passionate traveller. He can be reached on

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