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Stability and innovation do mix

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Most of the definitions of innovation share the idea that innovation implies the adoption of a new idea or behavior (Jimenez-Jimenez & Sanz-Valle, 2011). This innovation helps an organization deal with the turbulence of external environments, and is therefore a key driver of long term success in business, particularly in dynamic markets (Jimenez-Jimenez & Sanz-Valle, 2011). While this all seems reasonable what of internal turbulence caused by the change efforts required to deal with external turbulence? In other words, do change agents complicate matters by consistently and continuously adapting the organization to outside stimuli? I find it interesting that Northouse (2012) explicitly states that “the primary function of leadership is to produce change and movement. I argue that there is already enough movement and change taking place in the external environment that the production of such is counterproductive.

Needed are leaders, followers and organizations capable of anticipating the waves of movement and then selecting which wave to ride. Having an external view is critical to be certain however, I believe the pendulum has gone too far in that direction. The internal environment must be addressed as well; and not just in regard to empowering employees or designing new organizational structures. What might be needed is a dose of internal status-quo. Some research suggests that organizations in turbulent environments perform find it more difficult to perform well (Boyne & Meier, 2009) this is not surprising. What is somewhat surprising is that a mitigating factor for negative turbulence is to maintain structural stability (Boyne & Meier, 2009). How long an organization might be able to retain this structural stability is debatable. Intriguing though is that structural stability is a management function; might extreme turbulence be thwarted by the return of the middle manager?

Boyne, G. A., & Meier, K. J. (2009). Environmental turbulence, organizational stability, and public service performance. Administration & Society, 40(8), 799-824.

Jiménez-Jiménez, D., & Sanz-Valle, R. (2011). Innovation, organizational learning, and performance. Journal of Business Research, 64(4), 408-417.

Northouse, P. G. (2012). Leadership: Theory and practice. Sage.

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