You are here


Novelty refers to the creatively new, that which has never existed before. Organizations evolve. Some successfully, some unsuccessfully. At the crux of organizational evolution is the creation of meaning, learning, knowledge creation -- the production of novelty. Finding effective prescriptions for strategy and organizational evolution starts with identifying the descriptive theories of organizations, humans, and how novelty is created.

Novelty means coherent pattern that has never existed before, not some hidden form that already exists but has not yet been revealed. (Stacey, 2000, 155). Novelty is a precursor to innovation that is essential to organization evolution. The mechanisms to produce novelty are listed below --

  • self-organization - organizing new identity, exhibiting self-organizing behavior, moving from one attractor to another entirely due to the internal dynamics of the organization, see self-organization.
  • pattern emergence - spontaneous emergence of new forms
  • variation - there must be a source for variation or difference, like chance or micro-diversity.
  • diversity - true diversity requires the paradox of conflict and order, diversity in human action arises in human freedom and autonomy.
  • power relations - power is constraint; conflicting constraints translate in human terms to power relations. Creativity is intertwined with destruction. This insight is concealed when harmony and sharing are placed at the center of the rules for engagement between organization members.
  • micro-diversity -- variation arising from micro-diversity of interaction, has the potential to result in transformation, i.e. novelty - essential to organization evolution.

Novelty and Organization Evolution --
Novelty includes the notions of the creation of meaning, learning, and knowledge creation Novelty is essential to organization evolution. It is from the novelty that new technologies arise and are put in place. Novelty is the seminal source of innovation.

Without novelty, the best an organization can hope to do is optimize what is has, unfolding the form that is already enfolded in the organization as it currently exists. Since the objective of strategy is evolving an organization to a state of competitive advantage, and continuing this evolution to new states of advantage, the object of strategy is the organization.

Therefore, finding effective prescriptions for strategy and organizational evolution includes theories of organization, organizations, humans, and how they create novelty. This perspective gives as much or more importance to the organizational dynamics as it does to prescriptions for management behavior to strategically guide an organization. If you don't effectively and explicitly identify the dynamics of human organizations, the legitimacy of the prescriptions to evolve these organizations is questionable.

Traditional approaches ignore organizational dynamics --
Traditional approaches to strategy, implicitly or explicitly, focus attention on what managers are supposed to do to improve the performance of an organization. The immediate concern is then with the scope of an organization's activities, its future direction, and how it secures competitive advantage. This view of strategic management is generally rational, formal, and orderly.