Rethinking innovation in organizations through coevolving systems theory

Professor Richard Vidgen Australian School of Business, University of New South Wales will be leading this seminar at the UoB Systems Centre on 1st June at 1700

Research into high performing workplaces identifies the ability of organizations to innovate as a significant indicator of financial performance. Unsurprisingly, innovation is of great interest to governments. Despite this interest from firms and policy-makers it is less clear how organizations can organize to encourage, generate, and capture innovation.

This paper develops an innovation organizing framework grounded in complex adaptive systems. The framework draws on three principles of coevolving systems: match coevolutionary change rate, maximize self-organizing, and synchronize exploitation and exploration. The last principle suggests that innovation should not be viewed in isolation, i.e., to talk about innovation (exploration) we must also talk about operational aspects (exploitation). Although this even-handed approach to innovation has been reported widely in the management research on ‘ambidexterity’, the organizational/organizing aspects are less well explored. The coevolving systems principles are illustrated through application to the new product development process, in which customers and products are viewed as coevolving species.

Trafalgar Primary School in Victoria, Australia, pioneers radical approaches to learning

Vicki Miles, Principal, Trafalgar Primary School in Victoria gives an overview of how her students are enhancing arts and media skills with integrated technology.

Trafalgar Primary school is a progressive and innovative school that seeks to find learning experiences that support their philosophy of valuing the “whole child”. Trafalgar teachers actively engage in creating learning opportunities that support students in developing 21st century learning skills, specifically how students learn and engage with technology. With a highly successful integrated music and technology program, a fully functioning recording studio and a desire to engage with student interest, Trafalgar teachers wished to trial a number of innovative programs with their Grade 5/6 students through a newly developed open learning centre.

How about trialling EnquiryBlogger too?

Learning Futures Collaborative- your views??

In the Learning Futures Collaborative at the beginnnign of March, five teacher groups presented stories of significant change from their Learning Futures pedgaogies. All thirty people present identified key ideas throughout all five presentations and then tried to match them onto the four Learning Futures themes: School as Basecamp, School as Learning Commons, EnquiryBased learning and Extended Learning Relationships. The themes we came up with are here: Themes for LF Collaborative.

We invite you to reflect on how these themes we generated from our stories of profound change connect to the four Learning Futures themes. If they don’t, what does that mean for our collaborative learning? If they do fit together – how does that work?

An Enquiry ‘Product’ from the Social Experiment Day in July 2010

Last July we held a social experiment. Thirteen professional educators came together to undertake their own authentic enquiry. We all went up to Brandon Hill and had to select an object, artefact or place which was of interest to us.  We worked through the nine processes of authentic enquiry and on day two, each person had to present their new knowledge and reflect on their learning.  This slide show was Tim Small’s enquiry product.

Tim slides

From leader-as-hero to leader-as-host

Resurgence magazine (January/February 2011) recently featured an article by Margaret Wheatley and Deborah Frieze based on their new book Walk Out Walk On: A learning Journey into Communities Daring to Live the Future Now. In this excerpt they make the point that the only way we are going to be able to find solutions to the many challenges we face is if we recognise that we are all in this together, rather than depending on an heroic leader. Because the issues we face are complex and interconnected there are no straight forward answers – and it’s certainly more than one individual can take on. The days of command and control are past because we now realise that we live within a complex system.
And this is where the idea of leader-as-host, as opposed to leader-as-hero, comes in. Such leaders are wise enough to know that they don’t have all the answers, but what they do know is that other people within the organisation, when invited, can be just as creative and committed – and that together they can get things moving. So not only do we need to be patient with our leaders but we also need to be prepared to step up.
The leader-as-host is someone who has realised that within a particular organisation or community there are people who have the skills, capacities, knowledge and insight to contribute. They also know people are more likely to support what they have had a part in creating, and so they create meaningful conversations – and a lot of other things – that bring together a range of different people.
‘Hosting leaders create substantive change by relying on everyone’s creativity, commitment and generosity. They learn from first-hand experience that these qualities are present in just about everyone and in every organisation. They extend sincere invitations, ask good questions and have the courage to support risk-taking and experimentation’
WHEATLEY, M. & FRIEZE, D. 2011. Walk Out Walk On: A Learning Journey into Communities Daring to Live the Future Now Berrett-Koehler.