In their excellent book, Creativity Inc.: Building An Inventive Organization, […]

In their excellent book, Creativity Inc.: Building An Inventive Organization, authors Jeff Mauzy and Richard Harriman provide some fascinating commentary on information flows that support creativity. Without free-flowing information, they suggest that a firm cannot successfully embrace the conflict, risk-taking, diversity and intrinsic motivation that is necessary to develop an innovative culture.

“Creatively healthy companies have a high volume of diverse information that flows freely throughout the organization, increasing the likelihood of collision among beliefs, presumptions, possibilities and new facts. These sorts of collisions can lead to the breaking and making of connections and the creation of new ideas.”

Surprisingly, the authors don’t focus on collaboration technologies that enable information flows. Instead, they detail several organizational models that seem to be working today:

Entrepreneurial companies: Because they tend to have little or no hierarchies and loosely formed, flexible structures, information in small, entrepreneurial firms may be more open, accessible and shared more freely between the individuals who develop its aims and goals.

Job rotation: Rotating executives into different jobs and roles naturally promotes sharing of information. “Each rotation enriches the thinking of both the individual and the department, and it helps prevent the calcification of assumptions,” Mauzy and Harriman explain.

Matrix organizational structures: “In a matrix, individual staff members at least as far down as middle management may have one role that’s functional, such as sales or marketing, and another role of a different sort, such as management over a particular product or team. This increases the range and nature of information employees encounter on a regular basis.”

Clearly, access to a diversity of information, opinions and people is critical to developing an innovative culture!