The Role of Creativity and Innovation in First Mile Company

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First Mile Company is a company in the energy sector that produces renewable energy through the recycling of commercial waste. The company responded innovatively to global climate change by producing clean energy which promotes environmental protection. First Mile needs to design innovative technologies that allow for storage of the energy they produce and adapt the use of robots as a way to boost the safety of their working environment. The key drivers of creativity in the company include talent management and a positive organisational culture. Heightened competition in the energy sector is the primary inhibitor of creativity and innovation as it leads the management to focus exclusively on survival in the industry. The energy sector is directly influenced by prevailing global economic and political conditions which means that First Mile operates in a volatile business context. The proposed innovation strategy aims at maximizing employee performance and providing the company with a competitive advantage. Measurement of the stakeholder satisfaction rates and the evaluation of the final delivery of ideas brought about by the proposal will be the two ways to determine if the proposal is successful. Workplace conflicts and repetition of tasks are the key implementation issues that may face the innovation strategy. The use of a project management software and emphasis on the need for teamwork are the strategies to deal with the two challenges.

Evaluating Organisational Innovation

Introduction

First Mile is a company in the energy sector that focuses on producing renewable energy primarily through recycling(First Mile, 2018). The recycling company was established in 2003 by Dr. Bruce Bratley. First Mile’s head office and main depot are in London and the company has another subsidiary depot in Birmingham. First Mile focuses on recycling commercial waste and the company recycles more than 10,000 tonnes annually(First Mile, 2018). The company believes that it is possible to recycle everything in the world and they aim at providing simple and low costs recycling services for companies in London and Birmingham and eventually the rest of the world. First Mile is one of the companies in the UK that is environmentally responsive by utilizing renewable forms of energy.

Creativity in business includes the ability to develop new and unique ideas while innovation involves the implementation of those ideas in form of solutions, products or processes (Baron and Tang, 2011, p. 50). First Mile Company must embrace creativity and innovation as a means for survival in the energy sector which is highly competitive. The culture of an organization determines to a large extent the creativity therein as the management has a role in encouraging new ideas from their stakeholders. As First Mile embraces creativity and innovation it will boost the productivity of their company and continually improve its process and this will provide the company with a competitive edge in the energy sector. The aim of this paper is to conduct an analysis of the strengths and weakness of the creative and innovative process in the process of First Mile Company and propose an action based plan to improve the process appropriately.

Strengths and Weaknesses in the Creative and Innovative Processes

Current State of Innovation and Technology

The energy sector is experiencing drastic changes which provide significant breakthroughs in innovation and technology for the companies in the sector. Global climate change is one of the major factors that is driving innovation and technology as governments enact policies and laws to protect the non-renewable sources of energy(Schaeffer, 2012, p. 8). The need for environmental protection has led to an increase in the demand for clean and renewable energy. In response to these changes, First Mile Company has become innovative to ensure that the energy they provide is made from the recycling of commercial waste(First Mile, 2018). Moreover, First Mile uses efficient technology with minimal wastage as they lead by example in environmental protection. For instance, the vehicles that the company uses produce less harmful carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions compared to the traditional London buses.

Although First Mile has set the pace by moving from conventional power generation to renewable one, there is still a lot of technological advancement that the company needs to invest in. First Mile needs to innovate storage technologies for the renewable energy that they provide. First Mile produces green electricity, battery and light bulb energy(First Mile, 2018). However, the company has not invented any storage mechanisms for the energy they produce. If First Mile is going to gain a significant market share of companies and individuals who prefer their environmental-friendly forms of energy, it must be mobile.

Human safety is one of the key concerns for industries in the energy sector. First Mile has a responsibility to create a safe working environment for its employee while still improving the efficiency of its capital. The use of remotely-operated robots is one of the technological innovations that the company can use to maximize the efficiency of its capital and still provide a safe working environment for their employees(Tuna, et al., 2014, p. 56). The robots should operate autonomously and should be deployed to inspect the working conditions especially the hazardous areas in the power plants. The robots usually have cameras and tank-like crawlers which allow them to climb stairs (Murvay and Silea, 2012, p. 968). The use of robots will keep the human workforce out of danger and free their working time hence allowing them to focus on other aspects of the company such as strategy development and marketing.

Drivers or Inhibitors of Creativity and Innovation

Talent management is one of the key drivers of creativity and innovation in the First Mile Company. First Mile Company was established by a talented entrepreneur, Dr. Bruce Bratley, who had the vision to protect the environment(First Mile, 2018). Following the leadership example set by Dr. Bruce, First Mile hires employees based on their talents since the company believes that individuals who are passionate about environmental conservation will transform the company into an economic empire. First Mile Company also focuses on employee engagement as one of the tools to tap into their talents. The employees of the company are encouraged to provide their opinion regarding the products offered by the company and the ways they feel the business processes therein can be optimized.

Hiring based on talent and subsequent engagement of the employees in decision making influences the business performance of First Mile Company positively. The employees develop a sense of belonging as the management involves them in the creativity and innovation process which boosts their productivity (Whelan and Carcary, 2011, p. 680). As the employees become a vital part of the business process through their creative ideas, their commitment towards the goals and vision of the organization is enhanced. Therefore, organisational success is highly dependent on the level to which the management engages the ideas of its employees.

The organisational culture at First Mile is another key driver of creativity and innovation. The company was founded on the idea that business in the UK was not benefitting from their waste product. Over the years, the company has stated that they believe everything in the world is recyclable and they are working to make that a reality(First Mile, 2018). Therefore, the mission statement of the organization demonstrates that it is based on creativity and innovation and they are constantly seeking ideas on how they can achieve their mission statement. The culture at First Mile recognises the creative and innovative individuals mainly through rewards and promotions. The use of rewards encourages creative thinking in the organization.

The organisational culture at First Mile positively influences its business performance. As the employees are encouraged to become creative and innovative, they become responsive to the needs of their clients which provides them with a competitive advantage in the energy sector(Naranjo, et al., 2011, p. 65). For instance, when the company was first established, they only recycled 66% of the waste they collected which was mainly food, cloth and mixed recycling(First Mile, 2018). However, after identifying that there was a market niche which was looking for sources of clean energy, the company moved to use what was not recyclable to produce green energy in form of batteries, light bulbs, and electricity(First Mile, 2018). Therefore, the organisational culture allows the company to develop innovative ways to take advantage of the opportunities in the energy sector.

Heightened competition in the energy sector is one of the key inhibitors of creativity and innovation at First Mile Company. Although the demand for green energy is on the rise, it may take decades to completely transform the global energy systems since more than 70% of the current system is already powered by non-renewable sources(Energy Information Administration, 2018). Moreover, companies which produce non-renewable energy have made more significant innovations when compared to those that produce green energy such as First Mile. For instance, technological innovation now allows for liquefied natural gas which is easily transported worldwide. Therefore, the competition in the energy sector drives First Mile to focus on ways to ensure they survive in the industry as opposed to investing their resources in the creative and innovative process. Although focusing on survival promoted business performance in the short term, it negatively affects it in the long-term(Teece, 2010, p. 180). A company that seeks to operate effectively in the global economy must adapt to the trends in its industry by being creative and developing innovative technological advancements to beat the competition.

Business Context of First Mile Company

The context in which First Mile Company is operating is dependent on the internal and external factors that influence its daily operations (Masini and Menichetti, 2013, p. 512). First Mile is operating in an uncertain political context which is highly affected by policies and laws enacted by the government concerning energy sources especially with the emphasis on the need for environmental protection. Moreover, the energy sector is highly impacted by inflation and price instability since more than 90% of oil reserves are controlled by the governments of oil-producing countries (Masini and Menichetti, 2013, p. 516).

The consumption of energy is also highly dependent on the prevailing global economic conditions. When there is an economic meltdown, the operations of production and manufacturing industries are negatively affected which also leads to a reduction in the demand for energy. The ideological views in the society especially the increased awareness on the need to use environmentally friendly energy also affects the demand for the green energy produced by First Mile Company. The internal factors that influence the business environment at First Mile include its customers, the suppliers, the competitors, and the public and market intermediaries.

First Mile is operating in a volatile business context which is affected by many external and internal environmental factors. Therefore, the action plan that will be developed to enhance creativity and innovation in the organization must be strategic to address the dynamism in its business environment. The action plan must identify the presence of key players in the industry and identify ways to work amidst the competition created by the companies that produce non-renewable energy. The action plan must also be in line with the guidelines provided by the laws and policies passed by the government regarding environmental protection. Lastly, the action plan must be flexible to ensure that the company adapts to any of the prevailing conditions in the industry at any given time without incurring losses.

Proposed Action Plan

Objectives of the Innovation Strategy Proposal

The energy sector is highly competitive and the key objective of this innovation strategy proposal is to provide First Mile with a competitive advantage in the industry. Although First Mile is among the first companies in the UK to focus on the production of green energy, as demand rises, thousands of companies will also begin to produce clean energy. Using the creativity and innovation strategy, the company will always be a step ahead of competitors by developing innovative ways to meet the needs of their customers and also provide them with unique products. Through innovation and creativity, First Mile will be empowered to open subsidiary companies in other countries and access the global marketplace.

The second objective of the proposal is to increase workplace productivity. Since First Mile’s hiring process is based on talent and the organisational culture therein promotes innovation, the proposal will seek to ensure that the employees actively provide their creative ways on how the company processes can be improved continually. The proposal will encourage the open door policy where the top management is always receptive to the ideas of their employees. The open door policy is based on transparency and openness and this will encourage creativity from the employees regarding all company operations. Moreover, the proposal will emphasise the need for delegation to ensure that the potential of all the employees in the firm is utilised. Lastly, the innovation strategy is a program that will boost employee performance because it will track how tasks are assigned, prioritized and their progress monitored.

Evaluation of the Success of the Proposal

The innovation proposal will highly involve the employees of the firm since they are directly involved with the daily operations of the company. The results of the proposal such as a wide portfolio of products offered, improved quality or streamlined business process will be felt by the clients since they will be the consumers of the end-result of the proposal. Therefore, measuring the satisfaction rates of the stakeholders specifically the employees and clients will be one of the ways to evaluate the success rate of the innovation process. To determine the rate of satisfaction among the employees, the management will conduct a survey to seek the opinion of the workers on the innovation proposal. The opinion of the employees will be sought using a semi-structured interview which will be filled out anonymously to ensure that the employees provide honest answers as possible. Moreover, the management will maintain the open door policy throughout the implementation of the proposal and keep reminding the employees that they are open to any feedback. After the results of the survey are collected, they will be analysed to identify the rate of satisfaction depending on the positive comments given by the employees regarding the proposal. The management will also address all the issues raised to increase the effectiveness of the proposal in the future.

For the customers, the marketing team will be involved with the survey. The marketing team will schedule for interviews with some of the largest consumers and provide them with the questionnaire. For clients who may not be available for a one-to-one interview, the questionnaires will be sent via email or conducted via phone calls. The feedback of the clients will be analysed to determine whether the innovations resulting from the implementation of the proposal affected their experience positively or negatively. Repeated surveys will be important for the customers so as to determine whether their comments and experience change over time and provide the management with knowledge on potential areas of improvement.

Evaluation of the final delivery of the ideas brought about by the innovation proposal will be another way to measure its success (Mir and Pinnington, 2014, p. 205). Implementation of the proposal will bring about changes to the operations of the company. Therefore, to determine its success the changes will be evaluated to assess if they improve the business processes, help in achieving the vision of the company, boost the market share, and increase efficiency in capital utilisation and their cost-effectiveness. If the ideas brought about by the proposal positively influence the business operations of the company, then it means that it is successful.

Implementation Issues

Workplace conflict is one of the key implementation issues that may affect the innovation strategy(Hornstein, 2015, p. 293). The aim of the innovation strategy is to motivate the employees to think creatively and provide ideas which they feel can improve the business operations at First Mile and provide the company with a competitive edge amidst heightened competition in the industry. Therefore, it is expected that there will be multiple ideas and the management will have to choose the most feasible ones based on their cost-effectiveness, workability, and contribution to the vision of the firm. The selection process may result in disagreements and differences amongst the employees which will negatively impact the work environment and the implementation of the innovation strategy(Lee, 2010, p. 1174). As the project manager, I will deal with this challenge by emphasising on the need for teamwork right from the onset of the strategy. I will urge the employees to work collaboratively and to understand that whatever idea they provide, it is beneficial to the organisation regardless of whether it is implemented or not. I will also establish a reward system to ensure that all the employees who come up with any idea feel appreciated. Elimination of any issues that may lead to negativity will ensure that the innovation strategy does not stall along the way due to workplace conflicts.

Repetition in tasks is another implementation issue that may affect the delivery of the innovation strategy. First Mile Company already has many departments which means that it juggles numerous projects, plans, tasks, and people every day. Therefore, the chances of getting similar ideas or repeating tasks that have already been completed are high. Moreover, due to the many departments in the firm, miscommunication may occur where some employees fail to get a message. To ensure that repetition of tasks does lead to the stalling of the strategy or wastage of resources, I will use a project management software. The software will be used to plan and schedule all the activities of the project and allocate resources appropriately (Caniels and Bakens, 2012, p. 164). The software will also aid in communication by allowing me to send personal messages to department heads and employees and also alerts as necessary. Finally, the software will help me to manage the change brought about by the proposal because I will receive real-time response from the employees.

Conclusion

First Mile Company has realised a demand in the energy market and they have adopted creative and innovative processes of producing green energy from the recycle of commercial waste. Although the company’s creative and innovative processes are doing well, there is a need for continuous improvement to ensure that the company gains a competitive advantage in the industry as it faces great competition from companies that produce non-renewable energy. Moreover, First Mile needs to improve the working conditions in the firm to boost employee productivity and maximize the utilisation of their capital. The organisational culture at First Mile promotes creativity and proposal and this will enhance the positive impact of the innovation strategy which aims at boosting employee performance and providing the company with a competitive advantage.

References

Baron, R. and Tang, J., 2011. The role of entrepreneurs in firm-level innovation: Joint effects of positive affect, creativity, and environmental dynamism. Journal of Business Venturing, 26(1), pp. 49-60.

Caniels, M. and Bakens, R., 2012. The effects of project management information systems on decision making in a multi-project environment. International Journal of Project Management, 30(2), pp. 162-175.

Energy Information Administration, 2018. U.S. Energy facts explained. [Online]

Available at: https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/?page=us_energy_home

[Accessed 26 October 2018].

First Mile, 2018. About Us. [Online]

Available at: https://www.thefirstmile.co.uk/

[Accessed 26 October 2018].

First Mile, 2018. Battery recycling for business. [Online]

Available at: https://www.thefirstmile.co.uk/services/special-recycling/battery

[Accessed 26 October 2018].

Hornstein, H., 2015. The integration of project management and organizational change management is now a necessity. International Journal of Project Management, 33(2), pp. 291-298.

Lee, C., 2010. Task conflict and team creativity: A question of how much and when. Journal of Applied Psychology, 95(6), pp. 1173-1182.

Masini, A. and Menichetti, E., 2013. Investment decisions in the renewable energy sector: An analysis of non-financial drivers. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 80(3), pp. 510-524.

Mir, A. and Pennington, A., 2014. Exploring the value of project management: Linking project management performance and project success. International Journal of Project Management, 32(2), pp. 202-217.

Murvay, P.-S. and Silea, I., 2012. A survey on gas leak detection and localization techniques. Journal of Loss Prevention in the Process Industries, 25(6), pp. 966-973.

Naranjo, J., Jimenez, D., and Valle, R., 2011. Innovation or imitation? The role of organizational culture. Management Decision, 49(1), pp. 55-72.

Schaeffer, R., 2012. Energy sector vulnerability to climate change: A review. Energy, 38(1), pp. 1-12.

Teece, D., 2010. Business models, business strategy and innovation. Long Range Planning, 43(3), pp. 172-194.

Tuna, G., Gungor, C. and Gulez, K., 2014. An autonomous wireless sensor network deployment system using mobile robots for human existence detection in case of disasters. Ad Hoc Networks, 13(1), pp. 54-68.

Whelan, E. and Carcary, M., 2011. Integrating talent and knowledge management: Where are the benefits?. Journal of Knowledge Management, 15(4), pp. 675-687.

January 19, 2024
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