Walmart: Innovative Capabilities

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With the onset of the global business competition, organizations and business firms have been left to dig deeper into the innovation capabilities of their employees and the managers in the different organizational departments. An in-depth research conducted on the worlds most innovative companies such as Walmart, Google and McDonald have discovered that there exists a big interrelation of discover skills between the innovators DNA and the DNA of innovative organizations. This means that the nature of creativity and the factors that drive employees to be creative usually mirrors the innovation needs of the organization.

The current paper will discuss and analyze the current innovation capabilities of one global organization, which is Walmart, in terms of people, processes, and philosophy of the organization. The paper will also undertake to offer various processes that, if adopted, can increase the organizations innovative capabilities. Additionally, the paper will evaluate some of the philosophies and cultures that Walmart can establish and adopt in their system to encourage innovation. This analysis will be summarized by noting some of the obstacles that the organization may encounter in their endeavor to achieve the various strategies brought forth in the paper, as well as some of the ways to overcome such barriers or challenges.

One of the strongest pillars that have facilitated Walmart to maintain its muscle in the business world despite the escalating international competition from related organizations is their innovation capabilities. Walmart has adopted unique, innovative strategies that have seen it grow and open branches all over the world, and at the same time, to develop new product and business ideas. This paper will undertake to analyze the innovation capabilities of Walmart based on their people/employees, the organizational processes and their work philosophies or cultures.

Walmarts innovative capability is based on their policy to invest widely in talents. Walmart leadership believes that true talent is the key to innovation, as such; it continually taps into special talents spotable among the employees, then nurtures the talent through training, exposure, and workshops to expand their minds capacity. The organization owes its long-term success in recruiting, developing, and retaining absolute best talent at every level of the organization (Walmart, 2013). This way, the company is able to acquire front-line professionals with varied skills and inspired goals and orientation towards innovative capabilities that ensure the continued growth and development of the organizations operations.

The process that Walmart uses is an open-ended innovation process. Rather than choosing a selected set of fellows to lead in the innovation process, the organization has set a favorable environment where it invites all employees, regardless of their working departments, to bring forth any new innovations, inventions, or ideas that they deem useful for the development of the organizations products and services. Managers in the organization have the responsibility of leading the discovery of delivery kills and discovery skills in every functional area of the organization throughout the innovation process. Walmart has put forth networking processes that provide a forum for their employees to network, both inside and outside the company for the development of unusual ideas that they may have (Walmart, 2013).

Some of the processes that I would recommend to the senior management team of Walmart to increase their organizations innovative capabilities are based on a few organizational archetypes. Firstly, I would recommend that Walmart adopts a divisionalized form of structural employee setup. This would ensure the ability of the organization leaders to concentrate on developing competency and innovation in specific niches. This would help the organization employees to pull together efforts from different departments towards the common goal of attaining new ideas or products. Additionally, the process would ensure that there is knowledge sharing among employees who share common ideals and innovative goals of their organization, which would translate to greater innovative capabilities (Jeff, 2011).

The second process that I would recommend Walmart to adopt is the adhocracy structure. This is whereby the organization adopts a highly flexible project-based design that would ensure that any instability and complexity that might face the innovative endeavors of employees. The organization could come up with problem-solving teams that would ensure employees undertaking innovative projects remain adaptive and stable in tackling any complexities or challenges they would face, such as the knowledge of the product design that are embraced by the company, to ensure that whatever products or ideas they develop match with the organizations standards and the market demands (Benn, 2001). With the implementation of such processes, Walmart will me marching a step further in the realization of their dreams and continued growth realized through massive innovative capabilities among their workforce.

Concerning the question of what philosophy and culture should Walmart organization establish to encourage innovation, there is a culture that is characterized by an ideal and a composite conceptual framework that involve four main stages that would ensure utmost innovation in the organization. The first stage is by setting the conditions necessary to support innovation. This would be achieved by leaders taking the initiative of communicating that the organization is committed to supporting innovation. This would be the first step in setting up a culture that genuinely and openly supports experimental projects and risk-taking among employees (Jeff, 2011). This stage, therefore, acts as the mother of the preceding stages, as it underlies all other elements of the innovation process.

The second stage involves identifying the problem, or opportunity of the company that they want to innovate, or develop. This is an ideal step as it helps employees and strategists to focus on a particular innovative idea or product, rather than wander around trying to develop every product that Walmart offers to the market. Generating workable and relevant ideas to solve or capture the opportunity would be the third strategy of the new culture. Instead of dicing directly into the innovation process without calculated steps, it would be more prudent to begin by generating some ideas about who should be involved in the innovation process. For instance, how does the organization approach the development of the new idea, who are the recommended stakeholders to develop new ideas? Does the organization choose to keep the process internal, or does it invite people from the outside? (Benn, 2001). At this stage, it is paramount to acknowledge hat the ideas that the company generates become an integral part, or raw materials for the rest of the innovation process. Then, finally yet importantly of the stages involved in adopting the new culture in Walmart is the experimentation and the piloting of the developed ideas to test if they work in practice.

Some of the obstacles that might face the implementation of the new ideas, processes, and philosophies in Walmart would how the employees would react to the new cultures that they are not embedded to. Some managers and employees may be accustomed to old cultures, therefore, take time to adapt to the new strategies of innovation philosophies. Other innovative employees may be worried about how customers might react to their innovations, or if the new products or service may have some flaws that would cause customer complaints, and if so, how would they deal with such challenges. With the divisionalized setup, for instance, innovative employees from the different departments of the company would need to come together and share on their ideas. Such a strategy might be challenging, especially where employees come from departments of different nature, such as marketing and IT departments. In such a scenario, there would be a communication challenge in that the professional language and terms of the two departments defer.

However, such challenges can be dealt with to ensure successful, innovative capabilities among employees. Walmart managers and supervisors would be required to come in and ensure harmony and cooperation between the different employees working on various innovative projects. Another way would be to motivate employees by recognizing their innovative contribution to the organization. In addition, managers can organize for outside workshops where different groups of employees working on specific innovative projects have a chance to interact with their leaders of greater heights, and gain exposure of the real product world.

References

Benn, L., and Danny, S. (2001). Developing Innovation Capability in Organizations: A Dynamic Capabilities Approach. Imperial College Press. Vol. 5, No. 3. Pp. 377-400. Retrieved From: http://iic.wiki.fgv.br/file/view/Developing+Innovation+Capability+in+Organizations+a+ Dynami c+Capabilities+Approach.pdf

Jeff, D. et.al. (2011). The DNA-People, Processes, and Philosophies Innovative Companies. Retrieved From Web: http://www.fastcompany.com/1768470/dna-people-processes-and- philosophies-innovative-companies.

Walmart 2013 Annual Report. (2013). One Mission: A History of Delivering Strong Results. Web, Retrieved From: http://c46b2bcc0db5865f5a76- 91c2ff8eba65983a1c33d367b8503d02.r78.cf2.rackcdn.com/88/2d/4fdf67184a359fdef07b 1c3f4732/2013-annual-report-for-walmart-stores-inc_130221024708579502.pdf

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