HRs Role in Organizational Innovation

Date:   Wednesday , August 31, 2016

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Creativity v/s Innovation

We generally use \'Creativity\' and \'Innovation\' synonymously, but do these words carry same meaning or is there a difference? \'Attention\' is the key point of difference between \'Creativity\' and \'Innovation\'. Yet we find people often confused with both the terms. Creativity is often perceived as the \'quotient\' conquered by artists (music, drama, art) only however, it has comprehensive definition mentioned on web dictionaries. Let\'s evaluate each of this words by going into the definitions.

\'Creativity\' is to generate ideas in order to solve problems, to communicate better, to bring entertainment in existing tradition of execution. On the other hand, \'Innovation\' is a system to quantify the sum of \'inspiration\', \'giving foundation to an idea\' and at last \'implementing the Idea\'. Innovation is a token that keeps revolving in the circular process of getting inspiration of innovation, idea generation and its implementation.

Organizations today are often seen talking about creativity which preferably should be \'Innovation\'. What is essential here is how to put ideas to work rather than just keep building ideas. It is very important to understand this schema of innovation. To practice it more let\'s call it \'Innovative-Thinking\'.

Why Innovation?

Every organization rigorously practices \'Innovation\' today. A hyper-competitive age, demands being different, thinking different, producing different things and presenting differently. \'Being different\' and \'doing it differently\' have become essential for the organizations to survive in this globally competitive marketplace. Innovation is the only way to respond to current trends and competitors.

Innovative thinking is exactly like having an approach defined for foreseen challenges. While brainstorming it can help leaders of organization to proactively have solutions for the problems before they occur. Innovation must be the very next result of applied creativity to get the most out of it. It is up to Leaders, to play a very important role in demonstrating continuous strategic innovation.

HR\'s role in Innovation

Being People\'s Manager it is HR\'s responsibility to make people practice innovation. Providing an environment where creativity can meet innovation is the key role an HR can play. HR is the first \'Change Agent\' to influence mindsets of people to accept the need of innovation in the organization. HR as a \'Strategic Partner\' has to build a culture of innovation and align it with the Business Goals. HR can create a key role in engaging and empowering talent. An engaged and empowered talent can then help building a culture of innovation and explore new avenues of achieving goals of organization to sustain in today\'s competitive environment.

Cultural Transformation:

Building an organization which is focused on innovation requires a cultural shift and HR can play a very important role in this Cultural Transformation. A cultural transformation is basically a fundamental change in the thinking and the way organization carries out its activities. Innovation here is transforming the way its people think. HR being the key function should:

1. Bring people who are strategy focused into influence making positions
2. Create an easy platform,through flexible and agile organization design, for employee to share and exchange ideas. Here it is essential for everyone to understand that \'Innovation\' is everyone\'s responsibility
3. Develop a culture of continuous experimenting. It is essential to keep looking for better ways of doing things and producing results
4. Enable an environment where risk taking is promoted and failures are accepted as learning experiences

Change management:

Managing change is a vital concept and can\'t be taken up in seclusion. It is not like a pre-defined turnkey project which is ready for implementation. Also, it is not a strategic decision which can be implemented in a top-down fashion. It is to be accepted by all. It will not only help in minimizing resistance to change but also will ensure smooth implementation of process of change. However, it is natural human tendency to show resistance to change out of the fear of losing what one has right now. Change might result in losing level, designation, income, safety, security or job itself. Change being a very time taking process, requires to foresee every challenge coming in its way. And HR can take the lead in managing the change by:

1. Defining the clear objective of change management at both the levels, organizational as well as individual
2. Drawing a plan to develop systems for implementation
3. Listing down the prerequisites and the order in which Change will take place
4. Ensuring clear communication at every level of organization

HR plays key role in introducing and managing change in organization. HR can take a lead and invest in developing new working practices for individuals by:

1. Motivating them to adapt and respond to change
2. Increasing sense of accountability among employees by educating them
3. Focusing on continuous improvement in performing and delivering
4. Promoting customer centric service orientation
5. Promoting cross functional orientation

Performance Management:

One more key to unlock Innovation at workplace is the effective Performance Management. Key essentials for the same are:

1. Talent with Entrepreneurial Outlook and Risk Taking Behavior:
- Firstly, HR has to have talent onboard with entrepreneurial outlook who pursue risks and hence strive for innovation.
- HR must encourage and nurture an environment in organization to develop people with Capitalist mind-set. Moreover, risk taking behavior will always anchor efforts to stand out in competitive marketplace where every other player has same or sometimes better standards of services.
- Developing risk taking behavior will engage everyone to accept innovation and change with minimal resistance.

2. Feedback System:
- Continuous feedback and continuous development is to be adapted as a practice day to day work.

3. Re-defining roles and responsibilities
- To have the most engaged task force it is important for HR to keep re-inventing roles and responsibilities. Clearer the role, easier is to perform the responsibilities.
- Nurturing nature of taking challenges is the key to innovation. New technologies, new information, new trends will keep on coming-in in this era of competition.
- Re-defining roles and responsibilities will require new strategies, new plans, new structure, new order of execution and everything will be looped \'Innovation\'.

4. Reward & Recognition
- No matter idea might fail, it is important to think different and explore all possible prospects which can help making performance better. Recognize idea and the effort made for innovation.
- It is essential to understand the requirement of recognition whenever ideas/creativity/innovation is manifested. Real-Time recognition doubles the changes of effective performance management rather ensures it. It is said that performance is to be valued when it serves its value.
- Whether it is monetary or non-monetary, it is recognition which encourages individual to keep bringing changes and innovation the tasks they perform in.

5. Training & Development at every level
- Training helps understanding how objectives are defined, how are plans going to take place to achieve them, training needs/requirement to achieve them , if any.
- Training at every level will ensure ready and engaged workforce to take up challenges and to innovate at the same time when met with competition.
- Trained workforce tends to innovate more being functionally and fundamentally ready for the next role to target.
- Training even for how to have fun at work is something which triggers innovation as ultimate goal is to achieve satisfaction from the performance.
- Training from strategic levels of hierarchy (Top Level) till the execution level (Operational) ensures streamlined process execution and the spotless output.

In Summary, HR is one function which can play a key pivotal role in building and promoting a culture of innovation through effective hiring, performance management, employee engagement, training & Development, rewards & recognition etc. HR can bring about a cultural change and can play a key role in managing the change.