Almost universally, business and talent development leaders proclaim the importance of innovation. Turning creative ideas into new products or services, improving existing products, and implementing advances in the processes and practices that govern enterprise operations are essential to the evolution and sustainability of organizations.
Yet, most companies struggle to achieve high levels of effectiveness in their innovation efforts, according to talent development leaders surveyed by the Association for Talent Development (ATD) and the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) for Advancing Innovation: High-Performance Strategies for Talent Development. Barely 30 percent of those leaders said their organizations had reached a high degree of success.
Designed to explore the roles talent development functions play in organizational innovation, the study found a largely untapped area of opportunity. While leaders acknowledged the importance of innovation, many admitted their organizations hadn’t formally committed to pursuing it in an organized and subsidized fashion by creating a dedicated innovation business function or assigning accountability for innovation to a senior executive.
In addition, most organizations had yet to leverage the potential support for innovation that their talent development functions can offer. Some functions were designing and delivering employee training in creativity and innovation, but in only 29 percent of organizations. In even fewer companies—18 percent—development for leaders included innovation training, a next practice in development that is strongly correlated to better market performance, learning outcomes, and innovation effectiveness.
Advancing Innovation also uncovered many complexities involved in driving successful organizational innovation. While skill building in employees and leaders is important, creating the environment for innovation is critical. Innovation cannot be optimized if employees don’t feel safe taking intelligent risks and diverse groups of people can’t communicate and collaborate effectively.
Enterprise processes, leadership behaviors, and supportive talent practices augment learning strategies to help build cultures of innovation and drive effective creativity and innovation across organizational workforces. Efforts are taking place both within and outside enterprise walls, and talent development leaders acknowledge that their functions must take on leadership responsibilities in innovation initiatives—as role models, instructors, change managers, and advocates.
“Learning and development is essential in helping create a culture of innovation, and that’s what organizations really need—the culture to support innovation,” says Aimee George Leary, senior vice president at global technology and consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton. “If you aren’t inspiring people to be entrepreneurs, to be innovators, and to engage in ways that they can drive innovation, then your business environment will never support the kind of innovation that drives success.”
GP Strategies can help you explore key criteria for innovation centers and collaborate with you on nurturing innovative behaviors built on evidence-based decision making and the strategies that fuel high-impact learning.