The Nature of the Innovative Organization: Chaos With PurposeIntroductionGreat discoveries and improvements invariably involve the cooperation of many minds. I may be given credit for having blazed the trail, but when I look at the subsequent developments I feel the credit is due to others rather than to myself. − Alexander Graham BellFor organizations to be successful in identifying and implementing innovations, they must combine an environment that supports chaos yet provides a clear purpose for all members. Chaos can be very effective in supporting a culture of innovation. In this state of chaos, however, it is important to achieve order by engaging and aligning all of the people in the organization around the organization's primary purpose.No organization can establish a sustainable innovation process if it is not continually generating and evaluating ideas in a production process that results in new products, services, or business models. Stifling the idea flow is anathema to the innovation process.Every organization today must convert itself from a system that mutes or ignores the voices within and without to a system that encourages and listens to those conversations.In modern jargon, this is known as crowd-powering, harnessing the power of many. For example, in the past, the news industry has used expert journalists to gather information, process it, and disseminate it. A news organization's capacity to gather this information is limited by its resources; therefore, the information that it can deliver is in reality merely asmall portion of what is happening in the world, chosen by information gatekeepers for particular markets of their own definition. Modern crowd powering is evidenced in Internet-based news operations such as Now Public, which harnesses a broad spectrum ofordinary people to provide comprehensive news information in order to extended the reach and resources of traditional news organizations. Within two years, Now Public became the largest newsgathering operation in the world.Deliberate versus Emergent ChaosUnderstanding the nature of chaos is necessary for leaders and organizations to remain competitive for the future. Rubinstein and Furstenberg (1999) explained that an organization can experience deliberate chaos or emergent chaos. Emergent chaos "is unexpected and may require unanticipated action in the form of improvisation" (Rubinstein & Furstenberg, 1999, p. 92). Organizations move from a state of emergent chaos to a state of order, or deliberate chaos. Unanticipated or emergent chaos, however, seems to have the ability to show up at the most inopportune times. For that reason, organizations may want to encourage more creativity in an effort to better anticipate thoseproblems that may seem emergent simply because the organization failed to ask the right questions at the right time or notice a changing environment.
Assuming the inevitability of chaos, in the innovative organization, chaos is created deliberately (Rubinstein & Furstenberg, 1999). Chaos is achieved by allowing everyone