Innovation is a buzz word that gets thrown about quite a bit these days. We live in a time where the creation of “newer” and “better” faster than the competition is the path to survival. Every morning, we wake up to some new creation — an app, a new business model, or some competitor having found a fresh means to reaching our over-saturated audience in a brand-new way — and we react. What would it take to make that happen for our companies? How can we get some of that innovation magic for ourselves?
The explanation is quite simple: the key to harnessing innovation lies in agility.
Any business can build a culture of innovation. You start to expand your mind to how your workforce can start thinking about the future of your business and products. You create a work schedule and environment where ideas are easily generated. You bring acceptance into the workflow, citing there are no bad ideas. You reinforce that with reward for outside-the-box thinking. You ensure your workforce’s creative juices are flowing by not exhausting them with mindless decision making or endless meaningless tasks that suck the life out of them. I’m not over-simplifying this. It takes time to make it happen and much broader thinking about how a workforce should operate, but it’s not impossible. Perform these action and ideas will start to bubble to the surface almost immediately.
Now, this is where the magic happens: you must add agility.
In my book, Unleashing Capacity: The Hidden Human Resources, I explain that the future of HR and business both is the concept of capacity. Capacity is, in fact, corporate agility. It is the ability to act upon fresh ideas and innovation faster than your competitors. Most CEOs today will tell you the greatest corporate asset is information. With information, you can innovate. But information is nothing without agility. Your workforce must not only be innovative but flexible enough to turn on a dime in order to take advantage of a new idea and/or market opportunity. If you think of your business like a car, innovation is the oil in the finely-tuned machine, and agility is the precision suspension and drivetrain that allows the car to turn sharply and handle beautifully.
Agility is created by the precision partnership between HR and corporate leadership. It is the ability to envision the skills that will be needed to run the business now and in the future, and putting individuals with those skills in the seats complete with minds that can see how to move the business forward. Your workforce must not only be suited for the job they have today, but agile enough to work in the desired future state of your business. Your leadership team as a whole must be innovative, but HR alone owns agility; they get those people with the right skills in the seats and keep them there, but they also own the motivation and organization growth that can transform your current workforce into the one needed ten years from now. Agility is why HR is vital, now and in the future.
Your desire for a culture that runs on innovation is a good one. But in order to take advantage of innovative thinking, you must have corporate agility, otherwise known as capacity. Capacity is the key to the future; and HR holds the keys to capacity. The future is waiting for you; let HR take you there.