Cultivating total innovation for operational and adaptation excellence

  • Kostas N. Dervitsiotis
Keywords: total innovation, complexity, organizational design, Total Quality Management


Purpose of the paper: Since the late 1970’s, several significant developments in technology, geopolitics and the world economy have increased complexity in almost every sphere of human activity. As a result, formerly successful strategies have become ineffective. The same applies for hard-to-change pyramid-shaped organizational structures in business and government organizations. In particular, frameworks of performance excellence related to self-assessment and quality awards no longer serve management adequately because consumer preferences, the nature of competition and the sources of competitive advantage shift in a continually evolving environment. To survive, organizations must adapt to emerging conditions. Given these premises, this study intends to expand the traditional Total Quality Management (TQM) approach and proposes a new adaptive TQM framework to manage system complexity through innovation.
Methodology: A literature review analysis serves as a basis to identify the reasons for the increased complexity and to highlight the limits of the traditional TQM approach.
Results: The study identifies two major facets of quality that should be included in the new TQM framework: quality of innovation and quality of the organization design. This innovative adaptive approach for long-term excellence is complementary to the conventional management approach for short-term excellence.
Practical implications: The new measures of performance for excellence must go beyond short-term economic performance and “bottom-line” metrics. A firm’s level of success must also include metrics for its landscape fitness, i.e. its capacity to generate value in the future for its stakeholders (customers, workers, owners and others) and adapt as the environment changes.


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