The Reality of Talent: HR and Innovation

by External18 Jun 2012

Learn from the masters – and the apprentices: Creating a platform for ideas

Great chefs never stop learning, simply because they never stop eating and indulging their passion for food. They’ll set off on culinary tours, undertake cooking classes with acknowledged gurus, and find forums to mix and share ideas.

Good CEOs and executives, who don’t necessarily have all the answers, will recognise that it’s their job to tap into the wisdom, knowledge and good habits of the entire organisation.

It’s also important to acknowledge that innovation comes in multiple forms – from continuous improvement of day-to-day functions through to the big ‘aha’ breakthroughs. Whether an idea ‘has legs’ or not, people need to feel confident about putting forward a suggestion.

Most organisations have today adopted intranet portals and two-way digital forums to allow ideas to flow. Some create a physical space for it to occur. Google’s ‘workplace huddle rooms’, for example, allow small teams or four or five to come together to chew the fat, discuss issues and brainstorm ideas. The company has also introduced ‘20% project time’, which allows employees to work on new projects outside of their normal work responsibilities. GMail and Google News were just two innovations borne from this.

Other companies, like Lenovo and Alcatel-Lucent, involve dedicated innovation teams in the process, not only helping to create that ideas culture, but also to then assess and execute on the worthy ideas put forward.

Acknowledged best employers report that when employees are asked for their input, they return that trust with enhanced engagement and productivity – they have a genuine interest in the direction, strategy and future success of the company.

Innovative workplaces share certain traits:


  1. Flexible working structure
  2. Empowered employees
  3. Technology as an enabler
  4. Barriers shattered - open office
  5. Platforms to share new ideas



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