“Innovation – Te Next Frontier in the Human Capital Agenda?” | Jennifer A. Moss, Ph.D.
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Innovation is a topic currently at the oreront o business leaders’ minds. Te December2009 issue o
Harvard Business Review
and a recent study, “Te Innovator’s DNA,” botheatured innovation and characteristics o innovators. o understand how innovation mightimpact the growing human capital agenda, the ollowing questions should be taken intoconsideration: Are innovators more valuable to organizations?
Should everyone within an organization innovate?
I innovation is truly disruptive, how much disruptive activity can an
organization tolerate?I innovation is an element o human capital, how do we identiy and measure it?
“Te Innovator’s DNA” study ound that in the most innovative companies, the seniorexecutives did not delegate innovation. Rather, they were innovative. Tis nding supportsthe notion that organizations can tolerate only a ew innovators, and the rest should all inline with innovators’ visions. A concrete understanding o whether this notion is accurate or most or all organizations would simpliy the human capital agenda. Te study ocused on entrepreneurs, viewed tobe true innovators, and their personal characteristics. Once these entrepreneurs developeda new idea, they ound like-minded individuals to join in the implementation o the idea. As companies grow, these entrepreneurs need to bring in workers who can maintain thebusiness. With only the top rung o the organization innovating, the remaining workorce ison board to create ecient processes, build scalability, and monitor the work. When senior leadership is responsible or innovation, this doesn’t mean the sta and line workers, middle management, and even emerging leaders cannot innovate. However, broadly declaring an organization as “innovative” might give some the impression they have carteblanch to venture down their own path, which is the disruptive part o innovation.Innovation engages the right side o the brain, or the creative side. Tis type o right-brainstimulation motivates workers and creates energy and enthusiasm within the workplace.However, there must be a happy medium where everyone within the organization usesinnovative skills, yet stays on task enough to not upset the apple cart. In the human capitalagenda, this is the process that should occur. In order to implement this process, learningleaders must have a sound understanding o the ve skills innovative leaders posses to createtraining and education programs that oster these specic skills.
Five Skills of Innovative Leaders
Te DNA o innovative leaders can be summarized into ve skills: Associating
All o these skills can be learned, which means innovation can be developed in employeesand ostered in organizations. From a human capital perspective, the questions become:“How can we encourage innovation in our organization?” and “What is the impact o aninnovative culture?”
In the most innovativecompanies, the senior executivesdid not delegateinnovation. Rather, they wereinnovative.
- The Innovator’s DNA study