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Quo Vadis: Where does an innovative company go next?

David Straker


-- Introduction -- Level 1 -- Level 2 -- Level 3 -- Level 4 -- Level 5 -- Limitations/future -- References --

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 Level 4: Educated


Level no Level name Management style Individual approach Critical domain
4 Educated Training, structure Tools, skill Distant


At the Educated level of maturity, innovation is a critical agenda in its own right, sufficiently so to warrant direct expenditure on training and for the domain of focus to expand to include other areas of the company’s interest. People are now being asked to help the whole company with ideas, rather than just to improve their limited part of it, as in the previous stage, consequently the creative domain might be more distant from the creator than previous maturity levels. For example, a receptionist might sit in a marketing creative session, adding hybrid vigour with ideas such as how to make customers feel comfortable when starting to use new products.


To increase creative and innovative skills, people are trained on a range of tools and techniques, either to stimulate general creative thinking or for specific use in creative problem solving. There are several schools of thought, each with books and training courses ready and waiting in the wings, including de Bono17, Synectics18 and Osborn’s legacy organisation, the Creative Education Foundation19.


In many ways the transition from Encouraged to Educated is not as difficult as previous transitions as it requires limited cultural change, although being creative may require a more significant change in openness than was previously permissible in the company culture. This is mitigated by the tendency at this level to constrain the creative thinking to specific problem-solving sessions, where the psychological safety and freedom20 required may be controlled by a trained facilitator.


A problem at this stage is that, when working in groups, people who have not been trained in the approaches are likely to find it difficult to pick up the new methods on the fly, especially where different modes of thinking are required. The trained people may also be inhibited by the presence of the untrained people.


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