A couple of days ago at HR Tech World London, Sir Ken Robinson held an inspirational opening keynote on the importance of innovation within organizations and how creativity is the driving force behind them all.
The pulse of innovation needs to beat within an organization – if it doesn’t, the organization will not succeed. Sir Ken Robinson made the specific example with the rise and fall of Kodak. Historically celebrated as a sensation and known as a synonym for photography, Kodak continued to insist on photography being a chemical process despite the growing trend of digital photography. The moral being, no matter how sensational something is, its mortal existence feeds on constant innovation.
Sadly, there is a bottleneck to innovation. It’s easy to say, “Let’s innovate”, but getting people to start doing it, isn’t. Innovation depends on creativity. This is where HR’s mission begins; it is often not recognized that creativity can lie anywhere within the organization. Sir Ken Robinson says, “we have the resources to solve problems, but often we don’t know where they are in the organization. We set up creative departments, but this suggests that other people are not.” As he spoke those words, the members of the audience seemed to agree and nod in unison.
So, if the key takeaway is that creativity should not be granted to only one group of people but in fact to everyone in the organization, how can HR build and foster a culture of innovation to help organizations succeed?
1. Encourage every single employee to think outside the box
Sir Ken Robinson asked the audience why, if organizational charts are about people and how they connect, does the standard corporate version still look like a technical drawing with boxes that reinforce locked-in mechanisms? Conventional ways have always been the preferred way in corporate organizations. However, to capture the organic character and the life that flows through them we need to let go of authoritarian box diagrams. Reshaping classic organograms can trigger stronger ownership amongst employees because it grants more space and ability to shape the environment they work in, encouraging the bottom-line creativity and innovation.
2. Recognize and celebrate diversity
Diversity is more than gender and ethnicity, it stretches into talent, skills and ability. Nurturing diversity should lay the foundation of HR’s mission when hiring new talent because when people bring a variety of backgrounds and lifestyles to the discussion, it spurs creativity. Recognizing and celebrating exactly that will bring invaluable and unique viewpoints to the surface. Sir Ken Robinson correctly states “diversity is the lubrication for innovation”.
3. Leaders need to create a safe environment
Any workplace can hold many different opinions, but it takes leadership to create an environment where people feel safe and confident to voice their views. Once a safe environment is established, employees will feel more encouraged to share and exchange their ideas. This discourse will lead to innovation. To foster a culture of innovation, HR should continuously reinforce the organizational leaders to encourage employees to consider new ideas, inspire new dialogues and think creatively. Any company will benefit from employees that are engaged, creative and hungry for innovation.