Organizational ideas need sunlight and fresh air

June 18, 2014       The NonProfit Times      

There is good advice in the saying: “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it,” but sometimes tinkering is necessary.

A nonprofit or business that started from not much more than someone’s idea might be achieving great things, but sometimes new ideas or new versions of old ideas are needed to bring in fresh air and sunlight.

In their book “The Idea-Driven Organization,” Alan G. Robinson and Dean M. Schroeder place heavy emphasis on ideas as necessary for organizational success. They have some ideas about ideas. They offer the following thoughts on ideas and their importance:

  • An organization’s management systems are generally set up and evolve over time with little thought to their impact on the flow of ideas. Consequently, the management systems in most organizations are seriously misaligned for bottom-up ideas.
  • Ideas are an investment in the future. Leaders have to give employees time to work on ideas, together with small budgets and easy access to assistance from support functions, if they expect improvement and innovation at a rapid rate.
  • Policies that directly or indirectly reduce the flow of ideas need to be modified or eliminated.
  • Given the extensive use of policies in organizations, it is surprising how little training managers typically get in policymaking.
  • Ideas should be treated just like any other important aspect of performance and integrated into an organization’s existing performance review process.