Professor Paddy Miller of IESE Business School and co-author of Innovation as Usual
was speaking to HRD
about fostering cultures of innovation within the workforce.
One of the key issues facing HR is helping staff turn their ideas into real business solutions. Miller gave four strategies that nurture employees and bring creative thinking back into a company.
1. Teach people political skills
It is important for any future idea-smiths to understand the politics of the organisation, Miller said. This includes knowing who the stakeholders are and recognising anyone who can block innovation within the firm. These skills can and should be taught to all staff.
2. Don’t overregulate
Once a course on innovation has been completed, Miller advises HR to step back and let people come up with their own solutions.
It might be best not to even mention the word, ‘innovation,’ in the first place, he adds. Instead, HR can reframe the problem, encouraging different approaches and behaviour for those who need to think outside of the box and come up with new ideas.
3. Don’t dismiss incremental innovation
One of the main obstacles to innovation in large firms is that they are adverse to major change, Miller said. This does not mean that new approaches should be avoided however. Instead, he suggests that change can be brought on gradually.
“We’ve got the wrong message: it should be disruptive and it should be incremental.”
4. Don’t reinvent the wheel every time
“We’ve passed over and haven’t fully developed all the existing technologies, systems and know-how that already exist in organisations,” Miller said.
This means there are plenty of opportunities for businesses to simply build on current platforms rather than completely reinventing something that still produces results.
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“I know a lot of people who are amazingly innovative but who are not entrepreneurs. They think wildly, they come up with wild ideas but they don’t know how to package it up.”