Organizing for innovation

Improvisation or Structure?

Exploring new ideas and concepts is a crucial part of the innovation process, but the question arises: is improvisation or structure the better approach? While improvisation may seem like the more creative approach, the facts and anecdotes suggest otherwise.

The Product Development and Management Association (PDMA) has consistently demonstrated that companies with more structured approaches have shorter development timelines and higher success rates (PDMA 2021). Research has shown that a structured approach can be beneficial for innovation projects in a variety of industries. For example, a study of new product development in the pharmaceutical industry found that a structured approach resulted in faster development times and higher success rates (Song et al., 2021). Another study of innovation in the service sector found that a structured approach improved the quality of service offerings and enhanced customer satisfaction (Najmaei et al., 2021).

This point is further emphasized by the tragic story of the race to the South Pole between Robert Falcon Scott and Roald Amundsen. The team led by Amundsen marched consistently every day, while the adaptable team led by Scott tragically died before they made it home.

Time and effort

Innovation projects require significant time, effort, and resources, and busy professionals can benefit from structured approaches in many ways. For example, a structured approach provides a clear path forward and ensures that all team members are on the same page, reducing the likelihood of errors or miscommunication. Additionally, it enables the team to identify and address potential roadblocks early on, reducing delays and helping to meet deadlines.

Furthermore, a structured approach allows busy professionals to break down complex projects into manageable parts, making it easier to track progress and stay on schedule. This can be especially beneficial for organizations that need to balance multiple priorities simultaneously, allowing teams to allocate their time effectively and avoid burnout.

Too busy?

For busy professionals, time is a valuable resource, and this is especially true for professional service organizations like law firms, engineering firms, and hospitals. These organizations are designed to optimize the time of their professionals, with operations often solely focused on billable time. However, this focus on billable time can become counterproductive, leading to burnout and a lack of job satisfaction for professionals. The impact of billable time on the well-being and job satisfaction of professionals has been widely discussed in recent years. For example, a study of law firm culture found that the emphasis on billable hours can lead to high levels of stress, burnout, and turnover (Abel et al., 2018). Another study of healthcare professionals found that excessive workload and long working hours can have negative effects on patient safety and quality of care (Caruso et al., 2016).

Make time

Innovation can have a significant impact on job satisfaction for busy professionals such as physicians or lawyers. Here are some ways in which innovation can affect job satisfaction:

  1. Increased sense of purpose: When professionals are given the opportunity to innovate, they can develop new solutions to problems that have been challenging them and their colleagues. This can increase their sense of purpose and make their work more meaningful.
  2. Improved work-life balance: Innovation can also lead to more efficient workflows and processes, which can help busy professionals like physicians or lawyers to better manage their time and achieve a better work-life balance.
  3. Career growth and development: Innovation can provide opportunities for professional development and career growth, which can be very motivating for professionals who are looking to advance in their careers.
  4. Recognition and rewards: When professionals innovate and create something new, they may receive recognition and rewards for their efforts. This can be a powerful motivator and can contribute to job satisfaction.

Overall, innovation can have a positive impact on job satisfaction for busy professionals such as physicians or lawyers. It can lead to a greater sense of purpose, improved work-life balance, career growth and development, and recognition and rewards.

However, only when the innovation process is structured, otherwise the lack of clarity and progress is likely to add stress.


In conclusion, while improvisation has its place in the innovation process, structure, and momentum are critical to achieving success, especially in uncertain and complex circumstances. Busy professionals can benefit from a structured approach by providing a clear path forward, reducing errors and miscommunication, and breaking down complex projects into manageable parts. By prioritizing a structured approach, organizations can ensure that their professionals are utilizing their time effectively, reducing burnout and improving job satisfaction.




P.S. This Blog was generated with help of ChatGPT. A few takeaways from this experience.

  1. I am super grateful that Chat GPT can write, its grammar and spelling are better than mine.
  2. It takes work, but eventually, you will get to the answer you are looking for – which seems to kind of defeat the purpose of having an AI answer your question.
  3. Beware, ChatGPT tells you what you want to hear. For one of the prompts, I asked it to write a 10+ page report. ChatGPT promised to deliver it in 3-5 business days on my Google Drive. Yet, ChatGPT has an answer limit that is around 3000 words and no access to my drive. To tool apparently likes to please and as a result, will overpromise and underdeliver.
  4. You have to ask for references. The references are solid, but a bit old. Hopefully, ChatGPT 4.0 will solve both problems.
  5. It is a new tool that takes some trial and error to get used to and make the most of. I certainly have a lot more to explore!

Overall verdict: ChatGPT helped me to write a solid blog post and saved me several hours of text editing.


Abel, R. L., & Buckley, F. (2018). The long hours culture in a law firm context. International Journal of the Legal Profession, 25(1), 1-31.

Amabile, T. M. (1997). Motivating creativity in organizations: On doing what you love and loving what you do. California Management Review, 40(1), 39-58.

Caruso, C. C., Geiger-Brown, J., Takahashi, M., Trinkoff, A., Nakata, A., & Van Den Berg, M. (2016). The impact of work schedules, home, and work demands on self-reported sleep in registered nurses. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 58(12), e386-e393.

Najmaei, A., Asadi, M., & Abedi, M. (2021). Service innovation and customer satisfaction: The role of organizational structure and culture. International Journal of Innovation Management, 25(03), 2150024.

PDMA (2021). PDMA's annual Product Development and Management Survey. Retrieved from

Song, X., Li, X., Li, D., & Shi, Y. (2021). How does project management capability improve new product development performance? Evidence from the pharmaceutical industry. International Journal of Project Management, 39(5), 780-795.





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