There is a growing realization that organizations have to get the people who actually do the work to innovate. The innovation agenda is now as much about human capital investment as delivering new products and services. Now that innovation is everyone’s job, who owns job training?
Innovation champions and evangelists in organizations are becoming innovation educators and trainers. Innovators are now hiring, onboarding, and creating dashboards that become the innovation funnel.
Innovation functions rely less and less on big, bold, and expensive initiatives. The new approach is for innovators to influence how their organization values and evaluates innovative behaviour consistently.
Organizations now want potential hires and promotion candidates to demonstrate they’re ready, willing, and able to create new value and new business models collaboratively. Both innovation attitudes and aptitudes are essential because innovation is as much about culture as competence.
Smart organizations that innovate consistently engage their employees to participate and rollout out new products and services faster and more efficiently.
Employees whose workflows touch customers are being asked and tell to propose innovations that measurably enhance the user experience. They’re being trained to not only suggest improvements but also create use cases and digital prototypes with colleagues that scale to real-world tests and learns.
Innovation is about continually and pervasively, creating new external value.
More and more organizations are going beyond merely including ‘innovation’ in the mission statement and are training their employees in innovation and establishing deliverables for it. The word ‘innovation’ is showing up in more and more department names and job titles. The time to learn innovation skills is now.
New ideas are not the roadblock to stopping organizations from being innovative. That’s not to say that sound idea generation isn’t a critical part of the process. Employees always have a surplus of great ideas about how to improve products, procedures and policies.
Innovation is a process of which brainstorming is only a small part. Typically things like ‘socializing ideas to build momentum for change’ and ‘doing experiments to generate learnings’ are the crucial skills for innovation within large organizations.
Organizations routinely ask their people to innovate and then prevent it from happening.
If an employee has radical innovation as a deliverable for their job, then it makes sense to teach advanced creative thinking techniques. If not, then you are merely getting their hopes up, or setting them up to scare the heck out of their boss with their next bold and transformational idea.
Most innovation training takes place in a controlled, safe bubble. That’s good sometimes, but ultimately, for innovation, you want to move toward practise in real-world contexts. Using simulations is a good option.
The most successful innovation training programs involved forming teams, generating real ideas for innovation projects, pitching to their senior leaders, gathering feedback and then tuning the innovation. Actively participating in the innovation process creates a shift in attitude that is much more powerful than learning new skills or fancy techniques.
What works for Apple or Facebook will be different from what works in another organization. Consultants enjoy convincing leadership that there is a model of an ideal innovative organization. These consultants preach a change in your corporate culture to be successful. Every organization must find their way to innovate. Each ’organization’s culture is radically different and changing the culture to match other organizations can have disastrous consequences.
It is highly likely that innovation is happening in your organization today. Find out where, by whom, why and how, and with these insights, learn and spread the word.