Factor 12: Input into Management Decisions

This factor deals with the degree to which management decisions are made with input from the rest of the organization.

Factor extremes as measured in survey:

Management decides without much input from the rest of the corporation


Management actively seeks and considers recommendations from many levels in the organization

Overview to restructuring initiatives

Innovative companies promote the free flow of information throughout the corporation by avoiding cumbersome bureaucratic procedures. Information exchange among levels in the company and across functional areas is encouraged as is the exchange of information with customers.

Good examples of how to foster a culture of trust to encourage the flow of ideas

Deere & Company; Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Robert W. Lane, from an address he gave on May 7, 2007, addresses how Deere is ‘Driving Growth through Innovation’. Mr. Lane emphasizes that good ideas come from multiple sources, in this case referring to external input. Earlier he has referred to redefining innovation to include a collaborative process between Deere and its business partners. While not specifying that ideas could also arrive from internal staff, one is sure that with such an open attitude there is much room for internal as well as external input. Earlier reference is made to the ‘culture of respect’ and the ‘desire to create an environment where individuals can feel comfortable challenging the status quo, voicing their opinion, and seeking way to help each other be successful’; a clear indication of the importance placed on input from internal sources. ‘Trust’ (as within the organization) is part of the culture and trust is recognized as ultimately fostering innovation.

Google, whose culture is dominated by engineers, lets any employee surface new ideas and get face time with senior management, according to the Boston Consulting Group report, Innovation 2007. Google flattens its organization structure to foster innovation, according to the same report. By flattening the structure and encouraging the contact with senior management, Google hopes to mitigate the problem so many companies do have where middle management gets the job of weeding out the new ideas before they can surface, often discouraging ideas from moving upward and ahead.

Possible Initiatives to Modify and Improve the Culture for Innovation

Develop and open approach to viewing company information

With the advent of web-based facilities both internet for customers and intranet for employees; there is now a tremendous opportunity to share and make available a full range of information about company activities. With the ability to communicate within the corporation there is little reason for not seeking input from a whole range of potential sources and, within reason, this should be encouraged. The consultative/participative approach to management is realizable as never before.

Encourage theme-based data interchanges

Think about establishing forums where seminars, discussion and debates can take place on new ideas put forth by personnel in the corporation. Using video conferencing, remote locations can be drawn into the event. These events can provide a range of ideas for managers to work on thus contributing to the creative process. A variation of this type of event would be the inclusion of customers; such as in user-group forums, again with of a view to stimulating new ideas based on the need to get input from a wide variety of sources.

Form special groups with representation drawn from a wide cross section of the company to address given topics

Innovative companies take deliberate steps to cross fertilize idea generation. One company goes as far as holding a meeting of key managers (as many as 50) to determine what businesses the company should be in many years hence. Meetings deliberately exclude senior management.

Encourage a great deal of information from the organization when looking at new opportunities

Particularly when examining the potential for a new idea or product initiative, perhaps based on a competitors success with a similar venture, there is a need to thoroughly analyze the competition and this is best done by using resources from within the corporation, buttressed by outside consultants if need be. This is an opportunity to bring together both staff and line personnel; working them into groups with specific analytic targets that in the end contribute to a good management decision. Systematically acquiring competitive information is often better done by staff than line people since they are trained and oriented to this type of work, and can focus on the task.