Innovative Capacity: The Roles of Communication and Individual Empowerment



We say money makes the world go around, but data routes and trends dictate where the cash flows. Information leads. It’s a double-edged sword. Data ‘routes’ and ‘trends’ are defined by where and how information moves, binds and disintegrates.


Then, it’s logical that an organization’s financial performance is closely mirrored by the quality of its communications infrastructure. Both external and internal. In light of organizational change management, the focus lays on the latter, the vital organs of a company’s information flow among the individuals within a human structure.


Imagine a company’s quality of information flow as a water valve. A tap. If we have to nurture a garden’s intricate life cycles, we need to manage that valve with care. A lack of water causes a drought, while too much water, a rot.


A small-to-medium size fintech firm with current management methods may have the tap under control. The ideas are thriving and manifesting as on-target actions that contribute to a greater collective vision.


However, the larger an organization becomes, the more taps there are to maintain, and the more plants there are to tend to.


The Quality of Information Flow Defines a Company’s Innovative Potential


Among many factors, the ‘health’ of a collective’s information exchange and application is significant determinant of the overall innovative potential and output. How so?


Well, the knowledge of information carries power and agency over how we interact with our surroundings, and so the potential of a company’s individual cells corresponds to the volume and quality of the information provided.


Give too much and rot begins, too much-concentrated power eats the collective from within. Give too little and your products and services will end up on a dry billboard in Missouri.


Find the balance, and the rhythm is struck. The creation and maintenance of this balance, the ideal innovative threshold, is what the stage of ‘Inform and Empower’ in the active change management model focuses on.


3 Myths About Why Empowering Employees Is Counter-Productive (+ How It’s Possible)


Power has a bad rep as a force of destruction and disintegration. That doesn’t mean power is in itself a negative, rather, it’s a reflection of a poorly designed system to manage that power. Fire burns and destroys, or, it nourishes and forges.


In order to build something new and better, previous fusions may need to be broken so that the fragments can be reassembled into novel solutions suited to existing obstacles. This is the art of balanced employee empowerment.


Some reasons why leaders act out of fear and disempower workers at the expense of their company’s performance are valid, though many are illogical.


Myth #1: Empowering Employees Hinders Specialist Performance


We’re parting from a counter-renaissance era where specialization was and in some cases, still is a doctrine. Enterprises have reaped the benefits, though at the expense of excessively limiting talented individuals’ multi-dextrous potential.


An HR team’s greatest challenge should be to find the ideal balance of employee empowerment organization-wide. This requires acts of restricting, as well as bestowing. Yet, the latter dominates. Specialists can continue to knuckle down, arguably better, if they’re exposed to new perspectives through increased personal agency and creative partnerships.


An engine limiter is a blessing when your 18-year-old brother takes a Yamaha YZF-M1 for a test ride, but not on the track during the 1000cc MotoGP race.


Myth #2: Too Much Competition, Not Enough Teamwork


Agency and power come with a higher sense of individual freedom, striving, thus, competition among teams. That’s a given.


However, competition is only an antithesis to teamwork if... poorly managed! Given the right circumstances, a team of highly capable, creative individuals are able to compete and work together simultaneously.


By designing a human-centered system that prioritizes organization change management (see GFAD), the environment becomes suitable for healthy in-team competition -- a propellant for a collective solution-oriented mindset and maximized creative output.


Myth #3: More Empowerment Means More Management


Based on traditional management methods, this seems logical. With greater power comes greater responsibility, but what if the responsibility is distributed to those who wield the power in the first place?


I touched on the potential of human-centered, creative autonomous networks in the article ‘How Can an Organization Achieve Creative Autonomy via Goal Setting and Execution?’. Employee empowerment has creative potential, and should that be managed by such a network, individuals would share the responsibilities of the new-found responsibilities.


Sure, management efforts need redirection. Formulating such creative autonomous networks requires a skeleton system, namely the goal-feedback-action-diagnosis model. Considering the buffet of easily integratable SaS solutions on the market, this is a smart, performance-driven allocation of HR funds.


Balanced Management Efforts: Effective Management Is Aligned Between People and Goals


Managing information is one of many keys to managing both people and goals. That said, ‘people management’ needs clarification. In the article on goal management, I discussed the imbalance that stems from babysitting dependent employees. All at the expense of neglecting goals with tremendous potential for flexibility to meet boardroom visions.


Re-routing management efforts towards information flow are the first step to redefining individual, thus collective power dynamics.


What does it look like in action?


Once the obstacle is acknowledged, it becomes clear that the most efficient investment to make is human-centered. Setting up a GFAD model doesn’t require immediate attention, nor sudden technological intervention.


Instead, the organization’s micro-entrepreneurs need support to prime a hitherto constrained, confined mindset, to suit a new model of goal management.


Creativity, entrepreneurship, and leadership abilities are practiced through training in favorable surroundings. Once ample role models are trained, increasing innovative potential begins to ripple from one individual to another.


© 2019 Active Change Management