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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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Limitations of the maturity model

As W. Edwards Deming said, “All models are wrong, but some are useful” Maturity is a useful model, but we cannot simply push an organisation into a box marked ‘Level 2’ without recognising the limitations that this categorisation brings.

 

The maturity of an organisation is an aggregate of the maturity of its individual members. Skills and abilities do not diffuse instantly across a company and individuals are known to accept change at different rates33. Innovation diffuses according to a number of factors34, such as social position and the ability to understand new concepts. There is also more direct need for innovation in functions such as R&D than in some other areas, resulting in a natural imbalance in the attention to creativity and innovation.

 

As a result, there is a distribution of innovation maturity across groups and organisations, and the numerical ‘innovation maturity’ of the organisation is an average. If the standard deviation of that distribution is high, then a single numerical maturity level is probably not a good measure of the company in question.

 

Nevertheless, the model is a useful paradigm for understanding parts of the organisation and identifying actions required to transform individual entities to the required level of innovative ability.

Directions for future research

The maturity model of innovation is proposed as a conceptual framework, with a goal of helping to identify actual innovation style and to guide future activity in this area. How useful this is in practice will only come through active experimentation and research.

 

The effects of different distributions of innovation maturity distribution in organisations and groups are probably little understood and there may be some merit in investigating this area.

 

Perhaps the most intractable area for many organisations is in the more general management of change, that is, the transitions between the maturity levels. In the academic field we often skip straight to the ‘understanding’ level, but people organisations are not (perhaps by definition), that clever. This also raises the question of whether organisations have to go through each level, and if they do not, how the transition process differs.

 

Methods for measuring innovative tendencies and abilities have been well researched28, 35 and there is probably little requirement for further investigation, although one or more of these instruments may be used in the above research.

 

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