http://www.i3conference.org.uk/ conference in Aberdeen, Scotland (day 1). Jan Auernhammer (pictured right) talked about New knowledge creation within manufacturing: a pattern analysis of behaviours and interactions that underpin knowledge creation and innovation in a large German automotive manufacturer (a paper coauthored with Hazel Hall, Napier University, abstract here). Caveat: as I'm liveblogging, I may not have captured the authors' ideas correctly. He was investigating what organisastional context enables employees to work creatively. He looked at the organisational context, the larger processes (e.g. production processes) and how they affected the local context of people interacting. He collected data in 2007/8. He used autopoiesis as a research approach. Both quantitiative data (measuring organisational variables and administering questionnaires) and qualitative data (e.g. interviews and reflectuons on quantitative data) were collected.
From the questionnaire, leadership emerged as an important factor (e.g. how do leaders enable us to express ideas), as did motivation, the issue of shared values and the question of how much openness there was in communication.
A research outcome was pattern maps, with key factors and links between them. So for example, the vision for the organisation should both challenge and empower, so that people accepted the challenge to be creative. At an orientation phase there is the need for "Freiraum" (a free space to think and create - which means giving time and space). If the Freiraum exists then there is the possibility to generate and exchange creative ideas. Annother map captured individual innovation willingness. Elements within it included social reward, appreciation by leaders and a social "Freiraum" which allowed the expression of new and speculative ideas.
So the three elements to foster innovation in organisations that emerged as key were: structured routine working of experts (clear processes and understanding of what is being done), "Freiraum" for exploration, creation and prototyping of ideas (opening up the possibility of creative work) and (collective) innovation willingness (so new ideas are encouraged, not stamped on, and the idea can be brought into the "efficient" structured working of the organisation). Notably, there may need to be different management processes/style and information behaviour for the efficient "structured" working and the "Freiraum". The trickiness of producing and maintaining the requisite "Freiraum" was one of the things discussed after the presentation.
(added a little later) Thanks to Hazel Hall for the link to the presentation http://www.slideshare.net/HazelHall/i3-presentation-auernhammer-hall