In my previous blog “Brand, Workforce and Innovation”, i started making a case for a leadership role for HR in Innovation.
I’d love to see more HR in a true leadership role. Leadership as opposite to management in its narrow definition of executing a course set out by somebody else. See also below the very important message about the role for HR in creating the eminence of our workforce.
Checkout my previous post on what is meant with “eminence of our workforce”.
I would like to mix this with some thoughts from Rowan Gibson recently on Blogging Innovation. His full posting can be found here but i will explore some key findings below. Rowan Gibson is the author of “Innovation to the Core”.
UPDATE: what a co-incidence. Just today, Rowan Gibson did a new post in essence giving a one-page summary of his book. Here is the link to “Do you have a Corporate Innovation System?”
Innovation to the core” is about putting
radical innovation in the core of
and is not to be confused with the discussing
Innovation in the core or beyond the core
of your product portfolio
UPDATE: “Beyond the Core” is a book by Chris Zook, and is based on the principle of adjacencies. It seems to be the bible for anybody not wanting to do anything beyond the core. It dates back from begin 2005, and is in my opinion completely outdated as a guide for innovation.
Rowan says in his blog:
In essence, that means developing a particular mix of resources, processes and values that makes it hard for rivals to match what the company does.
This has to do – amongst others – to create this eminence in the work-force.
But it is much more.
Lastly, i was attending one of our company meetings, and our CEO was doing a pitch on the focus of innovation in 2010. Great to have your CEO on board to get innovation rolling ! Really, it makes a big difference. But at the same time, the company runs a 2-year lean-program to build greater efficiencies in the company processes.
In French, we call this “Le grand écart”.
It’s difficult, but not impossible if you’re fit and trained.
People do not understand this, cannot digest, don’t see the big picture, as the efficiency programs are much closer to their daily lives and – most of all – their jobs.
You could see the glaze in the eyes of some folks when we were talking innovation after having explained the lean-part.
As long as we do not succeed as positioning innovation as “buying our future”, as essential to building the greatest workforce on earth and giving the people the possibility of being part of that – with reward mechanisms – we won’t succeed in those apparent conflicting objectives.
Rowan Gibson goes on:
Making innovation a systemic organizational capability is a complex and multifaceted challenge. It simply cannot be solved with some Band-Aid or silver bullet. Instead, it requires deep and enduring changes to leadership focus, performance metrics, organization charts, management processes, IT systems, training programs, incentive and reward structures, cultural environment and values.
It’s not “good enough” to have your CEO on board. You need the full buy-in of your full Executive Committee, and – in a more complex co-operative organization like SWIFT – the buy-in of your Members, represented by the Board. We still have a lot of work to do, but i believe we are getting there. Innovation is now getting at the agenda of those deciding constituencies.
What i have not yet seen is a focus on how HR can help and be instrumental for innovation.
What companies need is not merely a pro-innovation mindset, or better brainstorming techniques, or "hot teams". It’s about making innovation a new organizational way of life; something that permeates everything a company does, in every corner of its business, every single day. It’s about infusing the entire lifeblood of an organization with the tools, skills, methods and processes of radical innovation. That’s the true imperative for rethinking the role of Human Resources. As soon as we recognize the strategic value and the immense organizational transition that’s involved in building a corporate-wide innovation capability, HR automatically moves to center stage.
And what would be the role of HR in such an Innovation context ?
Who else but HR leaders would be capable of turning a company’s strategic intent with regard to innovation into tangible everyday action? Who else could make the necessary changes to executive roles and goals, political infrastructures, recruitment strategy, broad-based training, performance appraisals, awards and incentives, employee contribution and commitment, value systems, and so on? Who else could build and foster the cultural and constitutional conditions – such as a discretionary time allowance for innovation projects, maximum diversity in the composition of innovation teams, and rampant connection and conversation across the organization – that serve as catalysts for breakthrough innovation? Who else could ensure that each employee understands the link between his or her own performance (as well as compensation) and the attainment of the company’s innovation strategy?
In short, who else but HR
leaders could create a company
where everyone, everywhere,
is responsible for innovation
every day whether as an
innovator, mentor, manager, or
I have become a big believer that companies need an innovation system where
everybody in the company
becomes an innovator
It’s almost a human right of any employee in a company, i would even venture it is a moral obligation for any employee in a company to be an innovator himself. It is NOT the sole privilege of the innovation team to come up with ideas, on the contrary. See in this context my previous blog on The Holy Fire.
Rowan Gibson has a great closing in his blog post:
The sad reality is that too many CEOs overlook HR’s potential in this regard. They still think of HR solely in terms of regulatory compliance, hiring and firing, employee comfort, compensation and benefits. Notably, Jack Welch, illustrious ex-CEO of GE and arguably one of the greatest corporate leaders of our times, sees things differently. In a recent column in BusinessWeek, he writes that
"every CEO should elevate his
head of HR to the same stature
as the CFO."
Hope somebody reads this.