The creative and innovative process to any organisation in todays business world is vital for survival. The creative process has commonly been associated with brainstorming and generation of new ideas. However, the creative process does not discontinue there (Greenberg, 2011; Cook, 2016). Organisations need to embrace these ideas, test, implement and monitor suggestions. This helps organisations understand their employees, market and customers better. CHSM is a German based medical devices company focussing on pathology products for the NHS market (Amabile et al. 1996; Lukic et al. 2014).
CHSM is a creative organisation and can improve however, currently lacks innovation. The organisational culture in CHSM is very blocked, toxic and is driven by leadership through fear. The owner of the company always makes the decisions, and because everything has been so successful in the business to date (Stegaroiu and Talal, 2014; Appelbaum and Roy-Girard, 2007; Holloway and Mitchell, 2010). The owner thinks ‘this is always the way we have done things, so why change’? Although the company is creative, the products offered to the market are not seen as critical or original (Mathieu, 2015; Trice et al. 1991).
CHSM need to invest in product managers for these individuals to act as idea champions within the company. The correct individual with the culture knowledge can assist in getting these ideas heard. When these creative meetings take place, although a lot of ideas are generated, employees can lose the motivation. Csikszentmihalyi’s ‘Theory of flow’ suggests that employees totally immersed in the task will channel full emotions towards achievement of the job. Employees know that the ideas are never taken seriously. There are currently no reward mechanisms for generating new ideas. However, there are rewards for achievement of the sales target (Dong et al. 2012; Fox, 2013). Any ideas to help increase this revenue to help target achievement is blocked by the owner. Employees have now stopped sharing these ideas, as many employees feel that the owner does not want to reward the employees for their hard work. Many good employees as a result have left the business and there is constant staff turn-over which impacts on the company. CHSM needs to create value in the business and for its employees. Csikszentmihalyi’s proposed an idea of culture through symbols. As the employees do not understand or even know the overall vision and mission of the company. This impacts of creativity and innovation. The culture is also one where they prefer all employees to behave and think in the same way. The experts in CHSM never challenge the owner of the company through the culture of fear and disagreeing with the owner (Gallagher, 2015; Vibhuti, 2015).
Unfortunately, this lack of innovation and the toxic culture has led to a decrease in market share. This has led to a culture of blame, particularly towards the sales employees as they are often labelled as ‘bad sales representatives’. The high employee turnover has affected customers as they prefer stability when doing business with the company. A new sales employee must rebuild the relationship, and this can be very tedious for the customer. CHSM offers high discounts to secure business, and as a result the products are slowly becoming commoditised (Sull, 1999; Stegaroiu and Talal, 2014).
Communication within employees in the business has also deteriorated as no one in the company has the confidence to speak openly anymore. Employees will feel engaged and go above and beyond their duties for the company. Low morale and poor working conditions can also lead to employees being off work from sickness and has happened at CHSM. This resulted in employees taking time away and this has led to the business being affected for poor health (Srinivasan, 2007).
CHSM currently operates in the medical devices sector selling directly into the NHS.
Figure 1: Porter’s Five Forces for CHSM (Porter, 1980; Porter, 2008; Kmietowica et al. 2017; Laconucci, 2016; Larsson, 2015; Luppa et al. 2011)). Reference: Strategic Advantage Essay 04/2017
Figure 2: PESTLE Analysis for CHSM (Porter, 2011; Kmietowica et al. 2017; Laconucci, 2016; Larsson, 2015; Luppa et al. 2011)
Political Brexit will change trade and regulatory rules. CHSM has high internal politics and managers never question the owner of the company.
Economical Pound to Euro conversion can cause some currency instability. NHS trusts are merging and causes frustrations because of affluent trusts merging with cash poor trusts.
Social Elderly population are now living longer owing to good nutrition and enhanced medical care. Many patients are now being directed to pharmacy or to the GP’s rather than coming to A&E departments.
Technology CHSM are aware that automation is a key player for the NHS and wanting maximum throughput. Point of care and remote clinical solutions are being developed to decrease the A&E throughput.
Legal Brexit will change clinical guidelines and laws for importing and exporting products. Laws will also change for employment and health and safety.
Environmental CHSM currently has no corporate social responsibility in place. CHSM needs to protect the environment by recycling, reducing carbon footprint and ensuring waste solvent is disposed of responsibly.
From Figures 1 and 2, CHSM has many competitors and is rapidly losing market share. CHSM should start to investigate new segments and invest in new technology to provide value and innovative solutions for the customers.
Developing an innovation strategy and action plan largely focusses on changing the toxic culture in CHSM. It is the responsibility of the owner to change how the company is viewed and this can be done by creating a clearer vision for the employees (Jia, 2017; Verhoeven, 2017). Although the owner may have a business strategy, to transmit that into symbols and value for the customers and employees can help create a more dynamic working culture. The next part of the plan is to accept that there are problems and to recognise this. Implementing various tools described in the next section will help. CHSM is creative, however, this can be done better by enhancing team dynamics and allowing ideas time to incubate and gather evidence for them. Employing champions or well-respected individuals in the market to work for CHSM can help with employees being more creative. This individual can also champion the ideas to the owner. CHSM also have help motivate employees as they may fail to see how this connects with the overall goal of the company. With regards to innovation, CHSM needs to distinguish the difference between creativity and innovation. The owner must embrace that these ideas need to be tested to implement strong market place presence. Developing a play to win strategy enables first mover advantage and can potentially guarantee market success. As the culture of the company is quite risk averse, the innovation matrix developed by Pisano in 2015 becomes very useful. CHSM will want to protect the routine products and maintain the revenue for this. Whilst exploring new segments, the company can also invest time to developing radical solutions. This will be investment into point of care for remote testing of components (Baidoc and Bacali, 2017; Collins, 2017; Lee and Schmidt, 2017).
The objective of the plan is to enhance the creative idea generation and help the company become innovative by implementing these suggestions. Creating a sense of urgency and adding creative and innovative sessions in sales meetings can get people to train their minds to this way of thinking (Choudhary, 2014; Norling, 2009). CHSM does not like taking risks and can really benefit from learning. As shown in Figure 3, employees need a chance to learn from each other and the stages of team development must be explored.
Figure 3: Tuckman and Jensen revised small group development (Bonebright, 2009)
CHSM should employ people of diverse backgrounds to offer different view-points. The owner of the company is responsible and accountable for the overall strategy of the company. The owner must be able to look at the holistic business and decide of the future solutions. CHSM needs to brainstorm in a different manner, either by working in pairs or getting individuals to develop suggestions and presenting ideas for 5 minutes during the meeting. This enables everyone to be involved, no loafers and all voices are heard. CHSM really needs to involve the employees in some key decisions, the culture must change to create a safe psychological environment free of judgement. The biggest challenge in the company is to define the problem – there is a lot of blame culture going on. This needs to be re-defined if the company is to survive in the long-term (Bonebright, 2010; Cook, 2016).
Figure 4: Fishbone Analysis of CHSM Problem (Clary and Wandersee, 2010)
Table 1: Breakdown of CHSM Problem (Gallagher, 2015; Kmietowicz et al. 2017; Laconucci, 2016)
Goals/Outcomes NHS customer in-house methods cheaper than commercial products.
Objectives/Facts NHS customer in-house methods are not as reliable or focussed on quality. Customers rely on commercial companies providing this traceability data. CHSM provides solutions that are non-critical tests.
Procedures Recruit industry experts and target new segments like, Diabetes, Oncology and Obesity. Point of Care technology will assist with remote testing and reduce A & E throughput. Flexible payment options for customers with a lower budget.
Constraints NHS budget. Although can work with industry experts and regulatory bodies to change and advice about clinical guidelines, what’s seen as ‘critical’ is very subjective in this market.
The objective for CHSM is to increase the market share and to have a play to win mindset. Developing this strategy is all about having a clear vision and sharing this with all the employees. The biggest problem as defined above in the various frameworks shown in Figure 3 and Table 1 and CHSM is losing market share. How can CHSM create more value for the customers? CHSM needs to operate in other segments that are more critical. CHSM can also buy the competitors and increase market share and even gain access to customers that they previously didn’t know. Perhaps the most disruptive strategy as well as employing the routine products and investigating new segments will be to explore point of care technologies. This will bring high value to the NHS and will enable results to be delivered much faster. The problem is technology is in its infancy and you are relying on customers embracing this new format. Customers have also frequently asked CHSM about complete solutions, so collaborating with our competitors can help achieve this task (Marinescu et al. 2016; Ulate Sanchez, 2014; Trice, 1991).
Part of the creativity and innovation plan is to also get CHSM to view the products in a different manner and have other uses that can increase revenue and market share. The products are ready to use diagnostic assays for NHS clinical staff to analyse patient samples. The various components in the patient biological samples are quantified to determine the clinical diagnosis for e.g. Vitamin D, Newborn Screening and Steroids analysis.
Table 2: Applying SCAMPER (Sawyer, 2012)
Substitute New marker for detection of disease that is more sensitive
Combine Most pathology laboratories perform other analysis and can matrix sell
Adapt Collaborate with other vendors to provide a complete solution e.g. automation. Customise test numbers for NHS hospitals that do not have the throughput
Modify Add or remove existing components depending on customer needs and the market
Put to other uses Access market to see if other applications not currently considered for existing product line for e.g. Newborn Screening is characterisation of amino acids, this can also be used in Veterinary laboratories
Eliminate Remove products from portfolio that are not selling well, and costs CHSM money and time to manufacture and store
Measuring key performance indicators is crucial to any proposal and must be monitored frequently to access performance, success and detect any changes ahead of time. Changing the culture and measuring this is very difficult in any organisation. However, accessing employee turnover rates will help in this matter. Also, employee engagement surveys will help to understand gaps in CHSM and help the owner and senior managers to change the culture and make for a better working environment. CHSM spends a lot of money on recruitment and losing valuable employees because of misunderstandings or feeling less value can and should be avoided at all costs (Holloway, 2010; Lukic et al. 2014).
Applying QOE to a few ideas that can potentially be evaluated and implemented is shown in Table 3 below. Only 10 employees and 10 key accounts were asked to provide their assessment of ideas proposed.
Table 3: Quality, Originality and Elegance Evaluation
Idea Quality Evaluation Elegance
Other use for product 4 5 4
Collaborate 4 3 3
New Segment 3 4 3
Customise test numbers 3 3 3
Add/remove components 3 3 3
Table 4: PMI Evaluation of Ideas
Idea Pluses Minuses Interesting Points
Other use for product New customers Application development. No market reputation for new application Creates multiple uses for existing portfolio. Diverse customer network
Collaborate Provide complete solutions. Provides value to the customer as the solution is easier Relying on honesty of collaborating company. Different culture and country of origin of collaborating company can be a mis-match Exposed to new markets and customers. Expanding business network and learning new cultures.
New Segment New customers. Investment in R&D Capital to develop applications. Existing employees may fear change. No market reputation in new application Niche market can gain market share quickly for first mover advantage if product is suitable for the customer
Customise test numbers Customers with lower throughput can save money and reagents by purchasing customised test numbers Difficulty to customise product for individual customers Corporate social responsibility and helping customers reduce waste and save money
Add/remove components Novel component that screens for disease ailment Difficulty to customise product for individual customers. CHSM operates globally and various countries will have different trends. Scientifically useful to access what products are selling where. What disease markers are being screened in various countries worldwide
To evaluate how great the idea is that being proposed, 10 employees and key accounts were asked for suggestions. The top 5 were picked to be the criteria for assessment.
Table 5: Evaluation of ideas
Idea Money saving Ease of use CSR New application New customers
Other use for product X X
Collaborate X X X X
New Segment X X
Customise test numbers X X X
Add/remove components X
There are multiple key implementation issues for these plans to work is owner and management resistance. A lot of the employees may also prefer to perform duties the ‘old way’ and feel that staying static is better than being dynamic. CHSM may also fear going into the unknown and the uncertainty of trying new ideas, and the risk tolerance for these to be successful should be weighed against failure. The capital required to investigate new segments and invest in disruptive technology of point of care is a huge for CHSM. Collaboration is vital for any business to survive, but the suspicious minds of the owner and the senior management team can hinder this sometimes. Many employees may also relive past experiences and have no faith that things will change in CHSM and may feel very overwhelmed of the ideas being proposed. Job security can also be a problem, as if trying to venture into new market segments, employees may feel that they are no longer needed in the business. Another key metric to measuring innovation is implementing a structured innovation process. Building this into meetings, and suggesting ideas, monitoring this and measuring the progress. CHSM can benefit greatly from the Balance Score Card as a metric for measuring progress in innovation (Cloudy et al. 2015; Garcia et al. 2007; Parns et al. 2016).
Overcoming challenges and obstacles is never easy in any organisation, however, communication is a key driver. Employees want to feel engaged and involved with what is going on in the company. CHSM can also involve employees in the change process and this helps them to feel valued and important. Understanding the problem can be key and give valuable insight into different perspectives, and one to one meetings are invaluable to obtaining this information. Incomplete facts can also give rise to inaccurate information being circulated, and open honest communication is always the best option. Training and regular meeting to improve creativity and innovation will help to keep the flow of information happening and implementing these ideas. However, there may be some employees who will always want to remain negative and not participate, and in these unfortunate situations a redundancy package should be considered (Parns et al. 2016; Sandberg and Aarikka-Stenroos, 2014).
In conclusion culture plays a vital role in employee engagement and regular training in creativity and innovation helps to enhance this practical process. However, not all employees will behave in an ethical manner and rather than supporting the business or colleagues, will seek self-glory. Data collected for the QOE and PMI evaluations were done with limited number of people.