Color Change Theory And Leadership Approaches#038;nbspA2 Coursework

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Innovation and Entrepreneurship


When it comes to promoting innovation and entrepreneurship in the workplace, the main problem leaders face is how to achieve harmony and positivity in the face of change. Many different theories abound to the extent that a leader can feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of possible approaches to use. De Caluwe and Vermaak (2004) have simplified the situation by providing the color change theory. For leaders interested in innovation, green-print thinking and white-print thinking, according to De Caluwe and Vermaak (2004), are going to have the most utility for leaders. Green-print thinking fosters a collaborative environment in which people learn from one another; white-print thinking fosters initiatives and exploration. To keep the workplace environment functioning well, humor can also be applied, as it strengthens relationships (Charman, 2013). For the purpose of this paper, leadership is defined as the ability to empower others (Conger, 1989, p. 17). This paper shows that to encourage innovative change, managers can apply the color change theory of De Caluwe and Vermaak, while incorporating humor to create a welcoming atmosphere in which new ideas can be generated for the organization. First it describes the color change theory and how it works in harmony with the humor aspect of leadership. Second, it discusses the leadership implications regarding creating a culture of innovation. Third, it addresses how to recruit and retain innovative personnel. Finally, it discusses how ideas learned about start-up organizations can inform how to reinvent aspects of any organization. The conclusion describes the impact of these findings on leadership philosophy, culture, and critical thinking.

Color Change Theory and How It Works in Harmony with Humor

Color change theory is a distillation of the various theories about how to manage others; the various colors (yellow, blue, red, white, green) are labels that designate groups of thought, such as the scientific management approach of Taylor (blue-print thinking), or how people change their behaviors when they know they are being observed as in the Hawthorne experiments of Mayo (red-print thinking) (De Caluwe #038; Vermaak, 2004). Color change theory provides leaders with an easy way to approach change in the workplace. As all innovative and entrepreneurial ambitions are rooted in the need for change, color change theory is helpful in giving a framework for how leaders might best like to approach change. However, when it comes to fostering collaboration and giving workers the freedom to explore and experiment, green-print thinking and white-print thinking have the most utility.

Humor comes into play with green- and white-print thinking because both groups depend upon communication and good relationships for new ideas to be welcomed, shared, examined, reviewed and pursued. Martin and Ford (2018) define humor as a social phenomenon that affects emotion, cognition and behavior in a positive and mirthful manner (p. 3). Humor brings joy to peoples lives and can make heavy situations seem light. It can revitalize and renew the spirit and displace feelings of anxiety. Humor functions across occupational divides by uniting people who may not even be in the same departments or working on the same issues but who can feel that they are…new ways. These models can be applied in existing organizations so as to reinvent the ways in which leaders approach and manage change, collaboration, communication and innovation. Start-ups offer a unique window into what others are doing in the field of leadership to bring innovative solutions to market, so it is really a matter of leaders networking with entrepreneurs to understand their tactics and strategies.


The impact of these findings on leadership philosophy, culture, and critical thinking is that leaders have to develop a cohesive philosophy of leadership and organizational culture that promotes humor and green- and white-print thinking so that innovation can be maximized. Critical thinking requires leaders to be able to identify problems, gather information, process that information so as to see what is most relevant, and make an appropriate decision based on that data. Culture is obviously an area where leaders must be careful because there are so many different cultural norms around the world, and in a diverse workplace these norms can come into conflict. Humor, however, is a universal language of humanity, and can be used to build bridges between cultures. This opens the door for better communication and trust, which means stable relationships and a clear path to welcoming innovation.

The leadership implications for ensuring an organization remains innovated is to incorporate green- and white-print thinking as well as humor into the leadership approach. Understanding that followers need to feel supported, that communication and collaboration are essential, and that innovative workers want freedom to pursue ideas are essential aspects of being a great leader today.…

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