When we talk about innovation, most of us probably think of plucky tech start-ups. Little wonder, as ‘innovation’ is one of Silicon Valley’s favourite words, and a key factor in most tech companies’ growth. So our mental images of innovation are usually of developers, programmers, and technical teams.
But innovation is born when people are free to find creative solutions to challenges and run with them – and that could be within any team, in any business. That’s why 85% of business strategy leaders cite innovation as very important (CB Insights, 2018) and why so many of us want innovation to sit at the core of our companies.
Making sure innovation permeates every area of a business means fostering the right culture, and this is where the HR team comes in, growing and enabling employees, allowing an innovation mindset and shaping that culture to guide business growth.
This is exactly what’s happening at French construction company VINCI. The HR team spearheaded an international project that helps the entire company communicate, collaborate, and innovate, driven by better-informed managers and greater people insights.
But what are the telltale signs of a culture of innovation?
- Leadership – An innovation led company will not be highly hierarchised, where leaders create a culture where people aren’t afraid to contribute, can fail and fail fast, set a good example and enable the flow of ideas – in every direction, and support the best ones
- Development – performance reviews include innovation as a key area where employees are measured. And managers are trained to encourage their teams to be innovative, as well as helping them develop and pitch their ideas.
- Recruitment – hiring for mindsets, not just skillsets. Talent searches look beyond qualifications to find those who have introduced new ideas, ask the right questions or have a continual thirst for learning – whether that means finding new team members or hiring from within. In essence, hiring for attitude more than skills.
- Collaboration – internal projects draw on different people, across different departments, and these teams collaborate closely together to achieve their goals. Networking and collaboration tools are used to enable people to contribute anytime, anywhere and on any device, ensuring the data needed is at hand and therefore that the innovation process is well oiled.
- Insight driven – data is just numbers, it’s the analytics ability that is key to ensuring continuous innovation. It’s about turning numbers into information that can easily be understood and read by audiences.
In our latest EMEA and APAC research, we explore how organisations are prioritising and encouraging ‘The Innovation Agenda’, and how this works in practice. Learn more here.