David W. Christie A. Tidd, J. and Bessant, J. (2009). Managing Innovation: Integrating Technological, Market and Organizational Change (4th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons. Notes from Tidd and Bessant An innovative organization is one which is “an integrated set of components that work together to create and reinforce the kind of environment which enables innovation to flourish.” (101) Organization design which enables creativity, learning and interaction. Key issue is finding appropriate balance between ‘organic and mechanistic’ options for particular contingencies. (100) Core rigidities of an organization are both a strength and a weakness. Relationship to organizational mindset. (102) Much of innovation is about uncertainty. (102) Successful technology management requires that the organization be prepared to take risks and to accept failure for learning and development. (102) My Observations – Military organizations are very protective of their people, equipment, and budgets because of the unacceptably high cost of failure. Failure in a military organization can result in loss of life, budget, and possibly the careers of decision makers. Consequently, the military is a very methodical, conservative organization. While deviations from accepted organizational practices are celebrated if the results are successful, there is little tolerance of these practices in the face of failure. As a result, some commanders may be willing to loosen their command and control arrangements many are not so inclined. Even a commander’s strict adherence to established and accepted procedures may not be enough to protect him or her from the consequences of the inevitable investigation that follows. For example, the US Navy places complete trust and authority in the commanding officer of a ship as a matter of long established routine practice. This means that the commander is ultimately responsible for everything that happens onboard the ship, both good and bad. The cost of failure such as a grounding or collision at sea is virtually always the relief of the commanding officer and other key decision makers onboard the ship. Examples from other services can be cited as well. Not surprisingly, military organizations are based upon the concept of effectiveness and redundancy rather than efficiency and innovation. Multiple levels of decision makers each having responsibility for oversight and review of decisions at subordinated levels have resulted in the creation of highly complex bureaucracies that minimize the chance of failure but also potentially reduce effectiveness. Ultimately challenges arise from such organizations that demand certainty in an uncertain and dangerous world. Karl von Clausewitz referred to the uncertain nature of war itself as “the fog of war” in his treatise, On War. The military’s demand for certainty in an uncertain world creates a dilemma for commanders and other decision makers in the organization. As time has passed, the military has become ever larger and increasingly top-heavy, i.e. even more bureaucratic. The addition of more layers of command and authority has made the military larger, but it has also made it increasingly difficult to determine exactly who is responsible for a particular decision. While this may provide decision makers greater protection from the consequences of their decisions, i.e. accountability is reduced. The exception to this trend of decision makers distancing themselves from the consequences of their actions can be found in the various Special Operations communities in the military. Specially selected, intelligent, experience, highly trained and motivated, these unconventional forces undertake very risky and highly consequential operations by involving fewer decision makers in their operations and empowering their commanders and personnel to successfully complete their assigned missions. Unlike conventional forces, Special Forces embrace ambiguity and uncertainty to their advantage. This requires the involvement of the highest levels of military command and control, i.e. the President and the Secretary of Defense, in virtually ever aspect of the operation from planning to execution to mission completion. A good example is the organization and functioning of the Joint Special Operations Task Force (JSOTF). This is a considerable departure in virtually every way from the manner in which conventional operations are conducted. Conventional operations are typically planned at a lower level in the organization than the high risk – high payoff unconventional operations. Using Mintzberg’s structural archetypes, the US military is a machine bureaucracy but has characteristics of a professional bureaucracy, divisionalized form, and is very mission oriented. (108-111) My Observations – The US military is not easily pigeon-holed into one archetype or another but has characteristics of all of Mintzberg’s archetypes to some degree or another. The only one that doesn’t seem to apply is the simple structure. Taken in its entirety, the US military is not a simple organization. When viewed at a lower, small unit level, however, it could be said that the simple structure does apply. Leadership needs to be conceived of as something that happens across functions and levels. New concepts and frameworks are needed in order to embrace this more inclusive view of leadership. (103) Tidd and Bessant on the issue of leadership vs. management and the devaluation of management. (103) My Observations – This is another area we need to develop. What is leadership and what is management in the realm of military organizations? What’s the difference? Must define leadership and management. Remember the military’s infatuation with Dr. Demming and Total Quality Management (TQM) which was promptly recast as Total Quality Leadership (TQL). The name change of the program itself conveys the military’s preconceived notions of how leadership is superior to management. Integrate three dimensions of leadership: concern for task; concern for people; and concern for change. (103) One of the most important roles that leaders play within organizational settings is to create the climate for innovation. We identify the critical dimensions of the climate for innovation, and suggest how leaders might nurture these contexts for innovation. (103) My Observations – When addressing the issues of flattening organizations and decision making, it is becoming increasingly apparent that we must consider risk assessment and its relationship to uncertainty. Resistance to proposals to flattening military organizations and decision making will invariably come down to these two factors. Tidd and Bessant address these issues in Section 8-4, pp. 360-366. We will need to translate their points into a military context because they are concerned strictly with commercial for-profit businesses. Need to look more closely at problems of limited cognition and how they impact decision making. Particularly important must be addressing perceptions of risk and how these influence our illusions of control and predictability, the politics of risk, and the balance of risk and stability. (Tidd and Bessant 363-366) B. Morgan, G. (2006). Images of Organization. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Notes from Morgan My Observations – Virtually this entire book has an impact on the topic of flattening of organizations and decision making in the US military. Morgan’s use of metaphors to gain deeper understanding of organizations is certainly applicable to the US military organization. Most notably, organizations as machines, organizations as organisms, organizations as brains, organizations as cultures, organizations as political systems, organizations as psychic prisons, organizations as flux and transformation, and organizations as instruments of domination all apply to some degree or another. A potential concern comes from trying to address all of these within the limitations of our chapter. Maybe we need to focus on only a few of these metaphors for the purpose of our analysis. Given these considerations, we should probably consider the machine, cultural, political, psychic prison, and flux and transformation metaphors as a starting point. We can refine our approach as we get further along in our analysis. In particular, we should investigate the trap of favored ways of thinking and autopoisis, rethinking relations with the environment. Managing in the midst of complexity is a particularly important topic for this study. This is an issue that the US military has been struggling with essentially since the end of the Cold War in the early 1990s. Implications for organizational structure and performance are rife. The military is not an organization that stands apart from its environment. Rather, it is immersed in its environment much as a living organism is. This makes the task of managing and transforming the military a much more daunting task especially given the fact that we may not fully understand or appreciate all of the forces working on and influencing the military. Certainly, these factors greatly impact organizational options for the future. This is why we must address the role of risk assessment and uncertainty in structural decisions. Some Concluding Thoughts – While flattening organizations and decision making are worthwhile goals, environmental factors may render such transformation ill-suited for some organizations or even unattainable for others. For example, issues of span of control commensurate with assigned tasks may require complex, multi-layered bureaucracies to deal with an ever more complex operating environment. Even as resistant as the US military is to organizational change, there are subordinate organizations such as the Special Operations Forces previously cited that have learned to embrace the uncertainty and thrive in an exceedingly complex and often poorly understood environment.