Introduction

Blue wizard was considered a giant in the world of technology in all aspects, especially in the 1980’s and early 1990’s where its products were applauded much by the generations and were awaited outside the shops in the long queues until they were first launched to the public. Being founded a small company by two technology students at Harvard University, Jim Davidson and Paul Stephenson, who had an undying liking and an unbeaten skill for the newer technology which earlier happened to write operating systems for computers and was later approached by then industry giant ICL in 1980’s, propelled to success by the dawn of 1990’s with the promising performance of its operating system.

From being one of the wealthiest businesses in the world by gaining advantages in an industry which is always subject to change, the Blue Wizard started to pave its way down the ladder with the dawn of the millennium. The arrival of newer competitors such as Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Face book hindered the successful journey that the company enjoyed for decades. The market where Blue Wizard had its rule over; the BlueOS operating system and the newer markets it tried to enter; e-books, search engines, music, social networks and much more, were overshadowed by more competent competitors, replacing the one time tech giant. And by the second decade of the millennium, Blue Wizard is almost in the oblivion in the technology industry, forgotten and overrun by a generation.

Situation Analysis

Creativity

The concept ‘creativity’ has been attended and explained and defined by many scholars over the years and it remains to be a study of interest for the ages. One major reason for the interest vested in creativity is its ability to lead the ordinary things and people into extraordinary achievements when correctly applied.

According to Amiable (1998), originality alone isn’t enough to run a business in the current contexts. Every business has to be creative to be successful in the market and to be creative, an idea must also be appropriate, useful and actionable.

According to the above quote by Amiable, it is clear that Blue Wizard should make their new products more appropriate to the market, useful to the market and also actionable in the market. Through the case study, it is evident that the Blue Wizard suppressed such creative ideas such as the e-book and focused more on inappropriate and un-useful products to the market.

Further, as Bilton and Cumming (2010) explain, Creative ideas must be ‘novel and valuable

Further, from the above quote it is clear that in order to succeed the market through creative culture, the new product developments should be novel and valuable. However, under the Blue Wizard context, their strategies were not novel and they were merely copies of competitor’s strategies. This is very clear from the CEO forcing to be in line with Google and its features when developing the search engine. Also, the product developments of the Blue Wizard were valuable only for the shareholders (employees) of the company and not to its customers and the society as a whole.

Also, Creativity is the ability to provide the work that is novel (Sternberg and Lubert 1999) and Creativity involves the production of novel, useful products (Mumford 2003). As per the definitions by these two scholars, the Blue Wizard had to lose its market where once it reigned over mainly due to the lack of creativity applied into its product portfolio. As per the case study, the CEO was not that much innovation supportive if he felt that the product is not highly cash generating. The first ever e-book concept which had been developed by the company tech engineers were looked down upon by the CEO a result of lacking creativity and inability to identify and support creativity. If that product could have been marketed at the time its first prototype was developed, the destiny of the company could have been very different from what it is now.

Three Components of Creativity

As Feldhusen and Goh (1995) describe, there are three main components that make up the creativity and these three components of creativity could have been used by the Blue Wizard Company in embedding a strategic creative culture. These three components are

  1. Expertise
  2. Creative thinking skills and
  3. Motivation.

 

Figure 1- Three Concepts of Creativity

Expertise

Blue Wizard had expertise with its experienced old employees and the highly qualified and innovative new young blood. Yet the company was unable to bridge gap between these two generations and to get the best form their combination. If could, the company could have got better results.

Creative thinking Skills

More often than not, the people are born with creative thinking. But the ultimate opportunity lies with the organization to establish and maintain an environment where the creative thinking of the people is identify, support and enhance the creative thinking. This is mainly because it is the creative thinking that brings the innovations and novelty to the company products and thereby create the competitive advantage. The theoretical knowledge and experience, though are useful, cannot alone can make an organization survive in the market successfully without the creative thinking. In the scenario of Blue Wizard, the creative thinking skills have been suppressed by the high powered BlueOS department’s authorized personnel. This should not have been done and creative thinking should have been encouraged. This could have been done via training programmes, workshops, out bound training opportunities etc. But as the creative thinking was suppressed by the top people of the organization with solely the profit motive and lacking foresight, the company had to face its doom earlier than expected.

Motivation

The motivation for the most employees in Blue Wizard had been the price of the company shares as it helped them to earn a gain. To some extent this was good as the employees worked hard to improve the image of the company as to thereby increase the share prices and earn a gain. But the newly introduced performance ranking system was not productive for the company at all as it discouraged the employees rather than encouraging. Hence the motivation of the employees was lowered and so was the creativity thereby.

Six ways to kill creativity

As per Szulanski & Amin (2001), there are six ways that can help to kill creativity.

Challenge

The first factor that can harm creativity is challenge. This includes not assigning the right tasks to the right people. When this happens, the outcome does not come as expected. In Blue Wizard, the combination of older and younger generations was not managed carefully by the responsible parties.

Freedom

The next main factor affecting creativity under this model is freedom where the employees must be given a freedom and a right to involve in decision making of the Blue Wizard Company. In Blue Wizard, not the employees in the product development unit were given the autonomy in deciding the products. Even when they do, the top management, who possess the business knowledge than the technical knowledge, does not allow those brilliant ideas come out of the company. Those concepts of new technology were buried inside the company.

Resources

Resources will play a major role in creating a creative culture at Blue Wizard. But as per the case study, the company does not face such an issue of lacking resources, but the inability to use the available assets effectively.

Work Group Culture

What was inspired within the organization was performing better than others. The performance ranking system entirely changed the mind set within the organization as it tempted the employees think to outsmart other colleagues even at the cost of innovativeness. This ultimately cost on the company itself as most of the talented blood left the company seeking for proper recognition for their talent and the remaining less employees hinder the development and findings of their colleagues.

Supervisor Encouragement

From the case, it is clearly identified that none of the managers encouraged new ideas to be implemented at the Blue Wizard. Therefore supervisor’s encouragement is really important in establishing a creative culture at Blue Wizard Company. When the employees came up with innovations, most of the time the response from the top level was rejection. No matter how brilliant their come up was, if it was not fit as per the perceptions of the management, it never saw the light of the day. While other contemporary companies encouraged the change and innovations, what Blue Wizard superiors wanted was to every new product to be compatible with their older BlueOS operating system.

Support from organization

On the other hand, the organizational atmosphere was not supportive for the innovations. The system which was inspired by the unfair insider politics was totally discouraging the independent, creative product developers. They had to obey the management if they were to survive in the company. If the management was having a bad blood with a certain employee, chances were more for him getting no promotions and other rewards, specially any positive result in the performance ranking.

Applicability of Theories

McKinsey 7 S model

McKinsey’s 7S model can be clearly applied to the scenario and enhancement of Blue Wizard.

Structure

Blue Wizard Company can implement a structure that supports the creativity. This can be recognized as a structure where creativity perspective is encouraged and supported of the employees.

Systems

Business systems a company implements is very important in determining the opportunity for creativity. If the systems of the Blue Wizard had been created to support the creativity, the employees would have come up with innovative ideas which come as a result of creativity and creative thinking.

Style

Blue Wizard can adopt a style of work where the creativity is supported. Most importantly the leadership style of the company could have been made a creativity supportive one such as democratic leadership. But what was seen in Blue Wizard is a kind of autocratic leadership which oppressed the ideas and suggestions of employees and which in turn hindered their creativity and the well being of the company.

Staff

Staff is the employees of the company. This is undoubtedly the most important asset of the company. The staff should be treated well in order to achieve the desired objectives of the company. The performance ranking introduced by the company has negatively affected the company staff and it can truly affect the company journey.

Skills

Skills of the employees should be developed timely to match the creativity needs. But this had not taken in Blue Wizard context.

Strategy

Strategy should be to support the objectives of the company. To acquire the lost market again, Blue Wizard should develop or modify its strategy to match the objectives as well as the market condition.

Shared Values

These are the things the company values and promotes. Blue Wizard should have its shared values to promote and encourage creativity.

Porter’s Generic Strategy

Porter’s Generic strategies describe the major four strategies a company can adopt;

  1. Cost leadership
  2. Cost focus
  3. Differentiation focus and
  4. Differentiation

As per the study on the Blue Wizard Company, the best strategy for the company would be a differentiation strategy. With that strategy the company can develop products that are different from the competitors and thereby can gain an advantage over the competitors. Also premium price can be charged for the differentiated products as they tend to give the customers a higher and premier value. Anyhow it is advisable for the company to engage in continuous research and development process to ensure that it recognizes and addresses the needs and wants of the market before developing a differentiated product.

Strategic Thinking

This involves the ability to see great business insights and turn them into competitive advantages before rivals. This can be either individual or collaborative. Strategic reasoning/thinking is a process than a standalone activity. This process has four steps.

Diagnosing

(What’s the nature of the problem?)

Identifying

(What’s the problem?)

Defining

Solving

Conceiving

(How should problem be addressed?)

Realizing

(What actions should be taken?)

Figure 2- Strategic Thinking

StepActivity
1
  • First, Blue Wizard can identify the problem. The major problem is the company’s lackluster performance over the years.
2
  • Second, they can address the nature of the problem. The problem has arisen in the organizational environment. The less supportive, non-matching work groups put into a too bureaucratic structure where each and everyone tries not to be innovative but to hinder others and company being headed by a less productive leader have been the major causes for the drastic fall of the company.
3
  • Third, company must find out how to address the problem. This means making strategies to solve it. The company has to withdraw the employee evaluation plan and also to establish a committee of technical and commercial experts to evaluate the appropriateness of the products to the market. Also the management can design procedures to reduce the valuable employee turnover and attract young talented blood.
4
  • Finally the designed strategies can be implemented. If necessary, the organizational structure can be changed to mitigate the bureaucratic effects. Also in addition, management must take every possible action to make the organizational environment a helping culture for both product and employee development.

Recommendations

The following recommendations can be given for the Blue Wizard Company to regain its lost market share and reputation.

Design thinking

This concept describes that thinking like a designer can alter the way one develops the products. This process has three steps;

  1. Inspiration

This is all about being inspired by the surroundings. Blue Wizard can look into the current tech market can identify the trends, strengths and weaknesses that exist there.

  1. Ideation

By recognizing the industry aspects, the creative ideas can be generated. And for the generation of ideas, there must have been a creative-thinking-supporting organizational atmosphere. If Blue Wizard can draw off its performance ranking method and sickening inside politics, the atmosphere would become much better for ideation/creative thinking.

  1. Implementation

To implement what’s been conceived in the creative mind, there should be a helping culture. The designers/product developers cannot give birth to the product without the help of the superior levels. They need accolade and encouragement to proceed instead of harsh criticism and discouragement. It’s in the hands of the management of Blue Wizard the responsibility and ability to establish such a valuable atmosphere in the company if they are ever to make an eye-opening come back.

Conclusion

Blue Wizard once occupied the heights of success before it hitting the ground. The main reason for the doom of the company was the inability to encourage and support a creativity driven culture. Also, the hindsight of the top level management and inappropriate responsibility assignment has negatively affected the journey and the image of the company. Anyhow, as the company has already faced its doom, now it is better to analyze the causes of downfall and take actions to remedy the downfall. For this purpose, the company can use the existing theories such as Porter’s Generic Strategies, McKinsey’s 7S model etc. and thereby use design thinking to develop creativity. Thereby the company can reach its previous heights of success once again.

 

References

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