Desktop version

Home arrow Management arrow Leadership Learning for the Future


The competencies of the INNOnetwork were dealing with inequality, risk, and unpredictability. It visualized a basic principle of social systems, namely that complex organizations have no single optimum but different optima at different times. Thus, we can affirm that networks are a visible proof of successful organizational alternatives building on system dynamics.

The participation in Swarovski INNOnetwork provided participants with on-the-job individual learning and the chance to practice principles of systemic management (Willke, 2004). In order to function well, the network required a willingness to embrace a culture of continuous learning by all participants acting as "change agents" in Swarovski. The INNOnetwork offered no security or comfort zones to the participants involved, and constituted no permanent structural solution. On the contrary, the INNOnetwork required a steady self-awareness of its members about the need to address critical questions with uncertain answers due to environmental changes in the Swarovski enterprise.

The Swarovski Case Study shows that networks can function as "cultural islands" (Schein, 2010) and "submarines" (Willke, 2004) of organizational change. The network was considered a means of soft governance and a tool of complexity management for the Swarovski enterprise. It reintroduced and fostered trust, integrated cooperation among different levels of hierarchy, and governed itself by creating a vision and rules of cooperation among different roles.

The Swarovski INNOnetwork filled existing gaps created by demands of the organizational environment which were previously ignored, delayed, or addressed too slowly. And communication patterns changed without negative interference on the performance of individual business units.

Thus, the internal network of Swarovski can be seen as a good example of the functionality and benefit of alternative organizational structures in practice. It (1) resulted from the organic growth of "problem awareness" and established itself as an individual social system outfitted with visions, goals, rules, and structures; (2) had a function and culture that was distinct from other organizational units; (3) turned out to be emergent and fragile responding directly to environmental changes; (4) required openness to a new and positive approach towards change processes; and (5) existed only as long as it was needed, wanted, coordinated, and supported (Gray & Wood, 1991). Currently, the network has stopped its work because of the fundamental reorganization. Based on previous experience, the VP of innovation and members of the new management teams started to re-invent an effective mode of INNOnetwork that focuses on the "user innovation" approach of coordinating transorganizational cooperation.

In conclusion, the lessons learned from the case study show that networks foster organizational learning by (1) harnessing internal capabilities to address difficult situations; and (2) reducing "blind spots" by making decisions about the nature and type of "missing information" to be communicated and circulated within the organization.


Argyris, C., & Schön, D. A. (1999). Die lernende Organisation: Grundlage, Methode, Praxis [The learning organization: Basics, methods, practice]. Stuttgart Klett Cotta.

Bateson, G. (1988). Ökologie des geistes [Towards an ecology of mind]. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp Verlag.

Brown, J., & Isaacs, D. (2005). The world cafe: Shaping our futures through conversations that matter. San Francisco, CA: Berett-Koehler.

Cooper, R., & Edgett, S. (2007). Generating breakthrough new product ideas. Hamilton, Canada: Product Development Institute.

Eschhofen, N. (2010). Swarovski Sustainability Report 2010. Wattens, Austria: D. Swarovski KG, Internal Corporate Communication & Corporate Media. Retrieved from reportySwarovski_Sustainability_Report_2010.pdf

Erler, H., Füller J., & Riegler, M. (2009). Die Swarovski i-flash Community. In A. Zerfaß & K. Möslein (Ed.), Kommunikation als Erfolgsfaktor im Innovationsmanagement - Strategien im Zeitalter der Open Innovation [Communication as a factor of success in management of innovation: Strategies in a period of open innovation]. Wiesbaden: Publisher Gabler

Erler, H., & Wilhelmer, D. (2010). Mit Netzwerken Innovationsprozesse steuern [Governing innovation processes in networks]. In Serhan Ili (Ed.), Open Innovation umsetzen - Prozesse, Methoden, Systeme, Kultur [Implement open innovation; Processes, methods, systems, cultures] (pp. 225-270). Düsseldorf, Germany: Verlag Symposion.

Foerster, H. V., & Pörksen B. (1998). Wahrheit ist die Erfindung eines Lügners. Gespräche für Skeptiker [Truth is the invention of a liar: Conversations for skeptics] Heidelberg, Germany: Carl Auer Systeme Verlag.

Gray, B., & Wood, D. J. (1991). Collaborative alliances: Moving from practice to theory. Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 27(1).

Grossmann, R., Lobnig, H., & Scala, K. (2007). Kooperationen im Public Management. Theorie und Praxis erfolgreicher Organisationsentwicklung in Leistungsverbünden, Netzwerken und Fusionen [Cooperations in public management: Theory and practice of successful organisational development in alliancies, networks and mergers]. München, Germany: Juventa Verlag.

Luhmann, N. (2004): Einführung in die Systemtheorie [Introduction to Systems theory] D. Baecker (Eds.), Heidelberg, Germany: Carl Auer Systeme Verlag.

Maturana, H., & Varela, F. (1984). Der Baum der Erkenntnis. Die biologischen Wurzeln menschlichen Erkennens. [The tree of awareness. Biological roots of human cog-nitio]. German Translation: Kurt Ludewig. Frankfurt a. M. 2009, Fischer TB Publisher; Frankfurt 2012

Micklethwait, J., & Wooldridge, A. (2003). A future perfect. New York, NY: Random House.

Mitchell, J. C. (1969). The concept and use of social networks. In J. C. Mitchell (Ed.), Social networks in urban situations. Manchester, S. 2.

Owen, H. (1997). Open space technology: A User's Guide (2nd Ed.). San Francisco, CA: Berett-Koehler.

Reingold, J. (2009). Jim Collins: How great companies turn crisis into opportunity. Retrieved from Jim_Collins_Crisis.fortune/index.htm

Rhodes, R. A. W (1996). The new Governance. Governing without government. Political Studies, 44.

Rigby, D., Gruber, K., & J. Allen (2009, June). Innovation in turbulent times. Harvard Business Review, 79-86.

Schein, E. H. (2010). Organizational culture and leadership (4th ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Schmidt, G. (2004). Typische Phasen eines Beratungsprozesses [Characteristic phases counceling processes]. In Liebesaffären zwischen Problem und Lösung. Hypnosystemisches Arbeiten in schwierigen Kontexten [Love affairs between problem and solution. Hypnosystemic working in difficult contexts] Carl Auer Verlag, 1. Auflage, 2004

Simon, F. B. (2004). Gemeinsam sind wir blöd!? Die Intelligenz von Unternehmen, Managern und Märkten [Together we are idiots? Intelligence of Enterprises, Managers and Markets]. Carl Auer Verlag, pp. 11-23.

Simon, F. B. (2007). Die Kunst, nicht zu lernen. Und andere Paradoxien in Psychologie, Management, Politik [The art of not learning: And other paradoxes in psychology, management, politics]. Heidelberg, Germay: Carl Auer Verlag.

Swarovski website. (2013). Retrieved Content.Node/php/alloversearchhtml.en.php?q=FACTS#/en/aboutus/ factsfigures

Sydow, J., & Windeler, A. (1999). Steuerung von Netzwerken. Konzepte und Praktiken [Governing networks: Concepts and practice]. Westdeutscher Verlag

GmbH, Wiesbaden, S. 11-23.

Tyrolit website. (2013). Retrieved from page.cfm?vpath=company/swarovski_group

Willke, H. (1998). Systemisches Wissensmanagement [Systemic knowledge management]. Stuttgart, Lucius und Lucius, S. 50.

Willke, H. (2004). Einführung in das systemische Wissensmanagement. [Introduction to systemic knowledge management]. Heidelberg, Carl Auer Systeme

Verlag, 2004. S. 63.

Wimmer, R. (2004), Organisation und Beratung. Systemtheoretische Perspektiven für die Praxis./ [Organization and counseling: System theory perspectives for practice]. Heidelberg, Germany: Carl Auer Verlag.

< Prev   CONTENTS   Next >