Ideation Processes and the Dynamics of Organizations
THE SEMINAR HAS BEEN CANCELLED IN LINE WITH THE RECENT ANNOUNCEMENT OF POLITECNICO DI MILANO
While some of the most influential scholars in economics or management (Phelps, Romer, Mintzberg) claim that ideas are the “fuel of new phase of growth of society”, the notion of ideas still occupies a modest role in these disciplines. Such a situation could be explained by the fact that the literature tended to represent the generation of ideas as a particular moment (a “spark” or a “moment of grace”) that plays a marginal role at the beginning of an innovation process.
A recent literature (ex: Perry-Smith & Mannucci, 2017) has questioned this restricted notion of idea: They argue that a new idea should not be confined to a particular moment and attributed to a particular individual, but should be interpreted as an evolving, open and collective ideation process, or “idea journey”, that can be broken down into four main steps (generation of the idea, elaboration, championing, implementation). Each of these steps involves different actors in a given organization.
Drawing on this insight, our view is that an ideation process carried out within a given organization can be inherently as a specific form of temporary organization (Bakker et al., Organization Studies, 2016).This temporary active generative structure nurtures the idea, searches for allies to validate and support the idea, taps in pool of competencies to equip the idea with useful knowledge, and makes efforts to institutionalize the idea as a new formal structure of the organization. Temporary organizing research highlights how temporary structures interact with more permanent structures including formal organizations, and how they are designed to disintegrate within a predetermined time frame.
From an empirical study carried out in Hydro Quebec, the contribution highlights three main conditions for a successful development of ideation processes: The key role of dual membership, the specific required attitude of the hierarchy for orienting and enacting the ideation processes, and the importance of the artifacts.
Patrick Cohendet is Professor at HEC Montréal.
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Department of Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering
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