Susan Moger (6 July 1954-12 September 2017)

October 13, 2017

Susan Moger

 

Susan Moger: ‘She was beloved on earth’

 

We all have our own Susan though our various memories. I want to share some of mine, together with contributions from Susan’s family and from her many friends around the world.

At first, I thought our various individual memories would be unique, but I quickly discovered several widely shared themes. For example, if there is an essence of Susan that could be bottled, it would be undiluted high-concentration determination always to do what she had set about doing, to the limits of her remarkable abilities.

In this respect, I recall catching a glimpse of her many years ago, walking up Oxford Road to the University of Manchester, though a blustery rain storm, leaning into a head wind. Metaphorically, it captured how she met subsequent headwinds in a similar way.

Another favourite memory of mine illustrates how she was often incapable of claiming credit for much of what she did for others. At times that later became painful, as she learned how the world rarely notices unpublicized efforts. We were working together once with a particularly favoured organization, Guinness Ireland, in Tinnakilly, County Wicklow. Susan had become a huge favourite of the Guinness executives. Our job was to help them come up with their own ideas to solve a tricky corporate problem. Susan came up with the idea which was eventually implemented. The client thanked me for the idea, publicly, at the end of the meeting.  Our rule was to say the team got the idea not an individual. Susan never claimed ownership, although she rightfully reminded me of the injustice of what had happened.

Her distaste for self-marketing was shown in her customary introduction to new groups of executives. When teaching together, Susan would begin “I qualified as a nurse, becoming a Senior sister in intensive care. I then took a degree in history at the University of Manchester, before becoming involved as a member of Manchester Business School.” For whatever reason, I had to add the additional information that her degree was a first-class honours one, and that she also had a most appropriate Masters’ degree, by research, in business, researching personality styles.  The case examples from her Masters’ were later to form the basis of the Handbook for Creative Team Leaders.

Theory and practice from her research were to come together when attended a session on personality profiling on styles of innovating and managing change. It turned out we had polar opposites on all the factors of the test. The distinguished tutor used our results to suggest that if we worked together over an extended period we would be an example of a dysfunctional team, because we would have too many personality differences to resolve. He was right about the differences, but was wrong about his prediction that the relationship was ultimately doomed through our incompatibility.

We had a scholarly riposte to that scholar, subsequently. We wrote and published a paper examining the dynamics of the film The Odd Couple, with its characters Felix and Oscar. We drew on our own diverse styles, to illustrate the tensions and nevertheless the richness found in such a diversity. Felix, the neat meticulous and responsible partner, Oscar the slovenly disorganized one.

An achievement of which Susan was rightly proud, was the success of the international journal, Creativity and Innovation Management (CIM). At first it was produced by ourselves, during which she showed her exceptional editing skills.  It was work for which determination and acceptance of little immediate recognition are required. The Felix of the partnership so often took the lead. Susan had those requirements in bucketfuls. As the Oscar, I had thimblefuls of either, in comparison.

One article from Japan was eventually to become a tipping point. We could have rejected it as it needed such extensive deciphering. Late one Sunday night, with the copy still incomplete, we decided we had gone as far as we could with the article and of ten years of editing the journal.

A new editing team was needed, and ownership passed to a wonderful group at the University of Twente, and later, more recently to Potsdam.

Today it is one of the recognized journals in its field, retaining our original concern for understanding the practice of business creativity and innovation, while holding to high standards of research excellence. In recognition of her contribution, an annual best paper competition was instituted in her name, giving her great pleasure as a way of continuing our association with the journal.

Over time, Susan became a much-loved member of the international community, and a familiar contributor to conferences around the world. Friendships were forged from Twente to Taiwan, from Buffalo to Brussels. Her editing skills also began to reveal themselves in a range of books. Notable among these were collections of he annual conference reports from The European Association for Creativity and Innovation (EACI). The rewards were friendships made around Europe.

Back in Manchester, Susan became a source of comfort for ‘our’ students who often became part of our extended international family.

Another editing task she later would refer to time and again, was that of The Routledge Handbook of Creativity during which she was the ‘front office’ for dealing with twenty or so groups of leading academics in the field, including some for whom the description Prima Donna would not be too far from the truth. If the Japanese paper was my sticking point, this Handbook was Susan’s.  She vowed never to edit a collective work of that kind again. You will not be surprised to know that she kept her word.

On a more personal level, Susan was a gold-medallist in sending greetings and Thank-You cards. She would replenish a stock which was being regularly depleted through birthdays, anniversaries, congratulations for achievements, and after social meetings. I would sometimes be co-opted to share in their signing.

In these and other more personal situations, Susan had a remarkable memory. Her knowledge of sports of all kinds was encyclopaedic. In football and tennis, she was unmatchable. As far as I detected, it was only cricket which defeated her, and in particular the follow-on rule.

Her greatest sporting love was tennis. She became a member of the Northern Tennis Club, Didsbury, and helped for several years in running the junior tournament, and one of the Ladies’ teams. Both would have served as case studies of sports leadership and creative problem-solving.

One of her other sporting memories was of work at Manchester United, where at a dinner at the end of one event, she won a competition for a signed United shirt awarded by Sir Bobby Charlton, ever-after a prized possession.

Susan was a much-loved sister and aunt, generous to a fault, always willing to be supportive and provide encouragement. Never looking for recognition and with her contribution often only really known to those who were the direct recipient of it. As I learned later, in her final months, Susan kept sets of rosary beads – in her handbag, in her home desk and also in top bedside table drawer along with rosary prayer books and prayer cards for those in pain. One can only hope that in small hours of the night these brought her comfort and strength.

In the last decade of her life, Susan encountered a series of illnesses which required all her determination, and which left her increasingly frail.  Recently she regained her old enthusiasm with involvement with riding for the disabled. Music filled the house, until one piece from Sibelius became one of those themes which would not go away, as she prepared for an event which would require her to demonstrate new skills of dressage from a standing start.

In this, as in her later determination to continue to pursue tennis using lightweight balls and racquets, her courage shone through.  I began to see in her an anger against the challenges posed by her illness, which reminded me of the famous Dylan Thomas lines

Do not go gently into that good night.

Rage, rage against the passing of the light.

 

A consoling few lines were sent by editor Katharina Hölzle, speaking on behalf of the CIM journal. I will let her words speak for themselves.

“Susan was one of the most inspiring persons we have ever met and her warmth and passion have inspired us tremendously. And if there is a person where we found the Late Fragment by Raymond Carver better reflected, then it was Susan.”

Late Fragment

by  Raymond Carver, A New Path to the Waterfall

And did you get what

you wanted from this life, even so?

I did.

And what did you want?

To call myself beloved, to feel myself

beloved on the earth.

 

As Katerina put it, Susan was truly beloved on earth.

We must appreciate her as a gift received, and , together with our mourning, cherish the memories of the kind I have outlined

TR, October 10th 2017


Competition and collaboration: Insights from Osram’s Design Contests

July 8, 2012

A prize-winning paper reports on a community-based design contest which invited contributions from nearly 1000 designers and engineers around the world.

Collaborative innovation has become an important approach to release the creative potential of individuals which has benefitted from advances in social media and its technological platforms.

One such project won the best paper award for 2012, for the journal Creativity and Innovation Management, awarded at journal’s annual community workshop in Berlin [28-29th June, 2012]. The members of the research team were Katja Hutter, Julia Hautz, Johann Fuller, Julia Mueller and Kurt Matzler, Professors at the Innsbruck University School of Management and of the University of Halle.

‘Emotionalize Your Light’

The ideas contest may be seen as a latter-day version of suggestion schemes of the past. But this is only at a superficial level. Formal suggestion schemes were found to have success when embedded in a corporate set of values, for example in the early decades of the quality and continuous improvement movements. Employees in companies such as Toyota generated vast numbers of ideas which cumalatively contributed to process and produce excellence.

The immediately obvious difference in the Osram project is the creation of a global community which becomes involved the idea generation and in the evaluation/implementation stages. The process is particularly suited for its virtual form, with technologically appropriate platforms.

The research findings

You can read the research findings in the article entitled Communitition: The Tension between Competition and Collaboration in Community-Based Design Contests. [CIM 20,1, 2011].

The study addresses a dilemma identified as the potential conflict between competition and collaboration. There is an unreflective and widely-held view that competition lies at the heart of business success. This view is partly nibbled-away at by game theory and the famous ‘prisoner’s dilemma’ which suggests that unbridled selfishness is far from the most effective strategy. Unfortunately, unbridled altruism is also too open to exploitative strategies.

Earlier workers in this fascinating branch of organizational theory coined various terms for hybridised approaches, such as co-opitition. [I seem to remember one of Edward De Bono’s books examined the theme as a kind of thinking combined competition and collaboration.]

These are my labels which help me understand the behaviours proposed by the authors:

Style 1 Competitive
Style 2 Cooperative
Style 3 Both [this is the integrative style labelled communitition].
Style 4 Neither

Style 3 is the new and signficant hybrid style proposed by the researchers. However, style 4 is not without interest. I like the evidence of community members who are not primarily collaborative nor competitive. These may be people who are observers who join a community for the purposes of learning, or perhaps potentially active contributors who never overcome fears of looking foolish.
While it was possible that someone may exhibit different styles over time, the evidence suggested that the styles were stable. In the situation of the context, participants seem to display a favoured style. This in itself is a valuable research finding, suggesting opportunities for developing research-based approaches for improving a community’s innovation processes. It may well be, that the different styles will call for different means of encouraging effective participation.
The authors recognise the need for studies of a wider range of such idea contents. However, they have made a valuable contribution in a currently hot are of innovation research. Other important questions include the manner in which leadership plays out in community-based activities.


How leaders support (and sometimes hinder) corporate innovation

September 13, 2011

Research shows that leadership commitment can be a powerful supporting factor within global new product development projects. However, the commitment can also have an inhibiting effect

The surprising result emerged from prize-winning study by a team of researchers from Europe and America who studied the relationships between leadership commitment and effectiveness of new product development (NPD) projects surveying nearly 400 global business units.

The paper by Elko Kleinschmidt, Ulrike De Brentani, and Søren Salomo won the Susan Moger and Tudor Rickards best paper award for 2010, voted by the editorial board of Creativity and Innovation Management Journal.

The study

The study draws on information processing theories of innovation which explore the relationships between information technology deployment and knowledge conversion into new products. The researchers examined the impact of senior managers internally as moderating factors in the process.

Such research requires the most careful attention to methodology to arrive at claims for reliability and conceptual validity of conclusions. The difficulties increase when the studies are multi-level (internal to the firm, and out into the wider global environment). The authors are careful to address these issues.

The anticipated findings

Among the anticipated findings was the conventional wisdom that top management commitment enhances innovation efforts. The authors were to find the view only partially confirmed.

The actual findings

“The research indicates that Senior Management Involvement does not impact global NPD outcome directly, but that there are significant interactions with the two [internal environmental factors]. One may speculate that Senior Management Involvement permeates all aspects of international NPD – but, in a leadership, visioning and delegating fashion – and that its real impact on performance is primarily indirect, through its moderation of all related systems and activities”.

The research adds evidence to another suspicion among technical professions, that top management enthusiasm for a technological fix may result in over-zealous involvement and perhaps ‘meddling’

On getting too involved

“By supporting the IT-Comm Infrastructure of their firms, senior management gives it relevance and legitimacy, potentially making its use an integral part of the global NPD culture of the firm and thus ensuring its use throughout the organization. At the same time, getting too involved in the day-to-day NPD operations can be problematic. Already developed capabilities in the form of routines for concrete problem solving could be weakened through ad hoc approaches introduced by top management.”

Notes

The researchers were honoured at a dinner in Corpus Christi college Cambridge [September 7th 2011] hosted by Dr James Moultrie, Institute for Manufacturing at Cambridge University as an event within the 1st Cambridge Academic Design Management Conference (CADMC). James was the recipient of the award in 2009.

The photograph shows from left to right Professor Olaf Fischer, University of Twente; Susan Moger, Manchester Business School, University of Manchester; Emeritus Professor Elko Kleinschmidt, McMaster University; Emeritus Professor Tudor Rickards, Manchester University; Dr James Moultrie, Cambridge University; Dr Søren Salomo, Danish Technical University; and Dr Klassjan Visscher, University of Twente.

Olaf and Klassan are co-editors of Creativity and Innovation Management Journal [with, in absentia, Professor Petra de Weerd-Nederhof, University of Twente].


Congratulations to Professor Petra

January 24, 2010

Petra de Weerd-Nederhof was inaugurated as Professor of Organisation Studies and Innovation at the University of Twente on 28th January 2010. Her inaugural address was entitled “Organising Innovation is an act of Balancing”

Leaders We Deserve adds its congratulations and best wishes to Petra for her contributions towards consolidating the international networks of scholars and practitioners engaged in the leadership of creative and innovative efforts.

The celebratory video was prepared by Tudor Rickards and Susan Moger, of Manchester Business School, founding editors of Creativity and Innovation Management journal. Petra and her colleague Olaf Fisscher at the University of Twente took over the journal in 2001, with a team from the School of Management and Governance at Twente.


International Conference Highlights Creative Leadership

July 3, 2008

An international conference has highlighted the importance of creative leadership for dealing with the most urgent problems of the age

Buffalo, New York State was the venue in May 2008 for a conference on Creativity and Innovation Management, Integrating Inquiry and Action.

Keynote speakers highlighted growing interest in creative leadership.

Two for One

The Conference brought together two overlapping networks of researchers and practitioners. The International Center for Studies in Creativity (ICSC), at State University of New York, Buffalo organized the main event, with main sponsors IBM and Fisher Price.

Prior to the main conference, Creativity and Innovation Management Journal (Wiley-Blackwell) held its second community meeting to award its best paper prizes for 2006 and 2007.

The expressed aim of the CIM journal is to

“bridge the gap between theory and practice of organizing imagination and innovation.”

The Best Paper Awards

The prizes for best papers were selected on votes cast by the members of the editorial board of the CIM journal, and awarded by co-founder Susan Moger of Manchester Business School.

The 2006 award went to a team of researchers from the conference host institute, ICSC. The paper traced the development of the Parnes-Osborn system of creative problem-solving to its recent format as a flexible and process-oriented system

The 2007 prize went to a team from the University of Berlin. In a carefully analysed study, the work explored innovation roles in successful highly innovative product-development projects.

Each prize-winning paper offered insights into the contribution of creative leadership in change processes.

Keynote Speakers Highlight Creative Leadership

Creative leadership was a recurrent theme within the meetings. In the overview presentation on Creativity Past Present and Future, Tudor Rickards of Manchester Business School explored the origins of creativity beliefs in cultural myths, and how they developed. Drawing on contemporary examples, he illustrated how visionary and political leadership has contributed to the emergence of the creativity industries, as well as to the transformation of cultural and political systems.

He drew attention to the EEC plans for making 2009 the year of creativity and innovation, and suggested that this might give impetus to a global creativity network.

Subsequent speakers also explored the theme of creative leadership. Michael Mumford warned against mystifying the concept. Professor Mumford pointed to empirical evidence that creative results are crucially influenced by the leader who defines a viable mission in clear terms, encourages developmental learning, assembling and building effective teams, and ensuring efficient planning and implementation.

The two invited business leaders were Casimir DeCusatis of IBM’s Systems and Technology Group, and Miriam Kelley, Vice President for Design from Fisher-Price Toys.

Dr DeCusatis reported on an innovation study conducted within IBM and in particular highlighted distinctions among different innovation teams. His paper appears in the June 2008 issue of CIM journal.

Miriam Kelley examined the strategies deployed at Fisher-Price Toys facilitate fresh ideas and innovation, such as benchmarking across industries, creating an executive position focused strictly on innovation, and introducing deliberate creative processes.

Leaders we deserve has drawn attention to the need for more studies of creative leaders and the processes of creative leadership.

This conference represents a step in the right direction.