Innovation nation: Canada needs innovators for global success

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It seems there’s something Millennials and executives can agree on: the importance of innovation in a company. But are we seeing enough follow through?

Almost eight out of 10 (78%) Millennials describe innovation essential for business growth. However, just 26% feel business leaders are doing enough to encourage practices that foster innovation, according to the Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (DTTL) Millennial Survey, which surveyed 5000 Millennials around the world this month.

"Innovation at the institutional level is needed to sufficiently shift an organization's mindset to allow new ideas to truly emerge and thrive," said Deloitte Global CEO Barry Salzberg. "While our current business leaders can debate how and where to innovate, it's clear how much importance our future leaders place on innovation—not just as a driver of business growth but also as a catalyst for solving society's most pressing problems."

Two-thirds of the Millennials also said innovation was a key factor in making an organization an employer of choice – important news for companies fighting for new talent in the worsening skills shortage. Millennials  are forecasted to make up 75% of the world's workforce by 2025.

The Generation Y opinions overall align with those expressed by Canadian executives in another recent global survey. Almost 9 in 10 (87%) Canadian executives report innovation is a strategic priority for their business, and 96% believe that small and medium enterprises and individuals can be as innovative as large companies, found the Global Innovation Borometer, released by GE.

"To succeed in global markets, the survey findings suggest that Canadian businesses will need to leverage Canada's solid innovation foundation, by increasing tolerance for sharing risk, developing new business models and undertaking greater collaboration," said Elyse Allan, president and CEO of GE Canada.

In order to innovate successfully, Canadian executives identified several key factors to success:

  • attract and retain innovative people (88%)
  • create an environment and culture conducive to innovation (80%)
  • challenge generally accepted practices and ways of working (69%).

When it comes to encouraging innovation Millennials , the Deloitte survey found 42% said innovative thinking needed to take place at all levels of the organization. The survey also showed that 39% of respondents believe encouragement and rewards for idea generation and creativity is a requirement for innovation to occur, but only 20 percent say their current organization operates in this way. They also suggested providing employees with free time to dedicate to learning and creativity (34%) and having a company culture of openness and the freedom to challenge (32%).

"A generational shift is taking place in business as baby boomers, many of whom may have been wedded to the 'old way' of doing business, begin to step down from their leadership roles to retire," Salzberg said. "Real opportunity exists for organizations to step up and create the conditions and commitment needed to encourage and foster innovation in their work environments. And there's a tremendous upside if we get this right: we can better retain talent, remain more competitive into the future, and more positively impact society."


Want to know how the best increase innovation? Watch for HRM’s follow up story early next week.

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