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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

Resolving the Dilemmas of Ad Hoc Processes - Parallel Processes as Scaffolding

INNOVATION usually requires freedom from existing cultural constraints. Ideas often come from outside an organization, perhaps from customers or users, or from a new leader who emerges from beyond the historically dominant culture. Leaders increasingly create ad hoc structures to develop ideas and plan their implementation. A creative public sector executive, Gordon Chase was one of the foremost practitioners of innovating via bypassing the existing structure. His method, according to Harvard professor Mark H. Moore, was to create a new organizational unit coterminous with the issue he wanted to focus on, place an individual in charge of it, set targets, and monitor its performance. Moore concludes, 'He administers the program as though it were a separate, independent program ... [using] project management techniques.' Prominent examples in the private sector include Apples development of the Macintosh computer and General Motors Saturn car effort. In both cases, new organizations were created and deliberately buffered from the 'old' corporate culture (which for Apple was less than ten years old) so that the innovation would be unfettered by the assumptions and habits of the dominant organization.