Innovation the key to success

by 04 Jan 2012

The pressure is on for businesses to embrace innovation in the workplace, with new statistics showing that only half of all HR professionals and leaders believe they have the creativity and innovation skills required to drive business success.

DDI’s Global Leadership Forecast 2011, which surveyed more than 14,000 people, revealed that 40% of business leaders rate themselves as being “ineffective at executing organisation strategy”, while 50% indicated that they do not have the creativity and innovation skills required for success.

Building a workplace culture that supports and promotes innovation is no easy feat, but Ellie Hall, executive consultant, executive solutions group at DDI, said executives and HR professionals need to be aware of its value and importance in the workplace.

"The pressure on leaders to analyse, experiment and implement innovative solutions is tremendous, because it’s increasingly evident that innovation organisations are more likely to success than those that stick to the tried-and-true,” Hall said.

She added that innovation is important at all levels, from developing internal staff processes and procedures, to liaising with customers.

“Organisations need to craft innovative solutions to address customer concerns that their products and services may be too complex, expensive and slow to deliver,” she said.

Dean Sappey, HR director, Frucor Australia believes one way to address the problem is to use language that approaches the situation differently when engaging with employees, clients and other stakeholders.

“It’s about getting people to ask the right questions,” Sappey said. “Perhaps, ‘What would my work look like if I could do this?’ or ‘How could we reengineer this to get this result?’”

To build a culture of innovation in your workplace, Hall explained that leaders need to address four key criteria:

  1. Lack of stakeholder understanding
  2. Lacklustre ideas
  3. Aversion to risk
  4. Failure to execute

“When people question their assumptions about stakeholders, think differently about potential solutions, experiment in order to build the highest value solutions, and get things done so that solutions are brought to market, they begin to overcome the challenges to innovation,” she said.

“It’s the leader’s role to inspire curiosity, challenge assumptions, create freedom to experiment and drive the discipline of execution. As leaders put these actions into place, they create a culture that encourages and rewards innovation.” 



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