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How HR can be Innovative

Release Date

20 August 2013

By Larry Forsyth

On a daily basis as I work alongside CEO's and senior management teams I am becoming ever more convinced one of the most important departments in your company where innovation is concerned is Human Resources.  Right about now, 20% of you reading this are nodding "yes" vigorously, while the rest may be reading in stunned disbelief.
 
Let me explain why HR innovation is so important to your organisation. First, innovation is foremost a commitment of resources to an uncertain future.   Believe it or not People dislike uncertainty and are somewhat unwilling to risk their jobs or futures working on items that are new or risky, without the appropriate assurances the organisation supports and requires people to try new things and make mistakes. So, as part of the transitioning process the ability to communicate failure is expected and people need to "think outside the box" and hopefully they will be rewarded for doing those things.
 
Second, you need to identify people who can "think outside the box". Let's not assume everyone is equally innovative, but instead let's attract, recruit, engage and nurture people for their innovation capabilities. Are they inquisitive? Are they locked into one viewpoint or willing to consider others? Are they open to new ideas, new concepts? These questions have a lot to do with how people are attracted, recruited, engaged and nurtured and how their skills are improved, if the latter is demonstrated organisationally, to welcome innovation.
 
You may or may not be aware, the most powerful force in business is culture. While corporate culture is not necessarily the responsibility of HR, the people who are hired and the training and cultural imperatives placed on the business are done so through HR, so HR can have a big impact on whether or not the organisation is culturally attuned to innovation.
 
As you can see I've identified the roles people play and the risk or encouragement of innovation, the ability of the people to think about innovation and to be creative, and the ability to impact or influence the culture.   Right now, all of these are features of the business that HR can impact.
 
Over time then, one may argue innovation is a transient competitive advantage, and businesses can attract and retain creative, innovative people and implement a culture that sustains innovation in a more customer-centric paradigm.   And, if this happens HR will have a huge impact on the organisation and its culture.
 
Finally then, too often we think of innovation as the responsibility of a product team or a business unit. What needs to be remembered though is the fact innovation springs from the minds of creative individuals working in an environment that spawns and encourages innovation. Attracting and keeping the most innovative people, and constantly improving their skills, and creating a culture that supports innovation will enable organisations in the long run, to differentiate. Then, you can be well on the way to achieving even more formidable people as well as innovative advantages, than ever before.
 
If you require more information on innovation or would like a free ' innovation info' session at your workplace, click on the link below.
 

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