Innovation is in need of a significant transformation on how it is designed, developed and executed in most organizations. Traditional approaches to managing this simply need ripping up and redesigning to allow innovation to become more the central core. Where does Human Resource Management (HRM) fit within this?
If we look at the broad areas that HRM has to cover and master in organizational development today, it can, perhaps, leave little time for adding in innovation into this array of demands. You can understand that HRM has little time to master a ‘decent’ understanding of what makes up innovation, when they are grappling with so much already but they should. Innovation is very people centric and HRM should be working hard in facilitating this often understated aspect.
Today’s HRM role is demanding and complex, no question.
Let’s firstly remind ourselves what does make up a current HRM role in leading or participating in many crucial areas needing constant attention. These include planning and designing and the executing of change management, seeking out potential leaders, participating in career development and recruitment, managing organization capability and effectiveness in all its different demands called for across a diverse demanding organization.
HRM gets fully involved with seeking out different designs to team building or should, organization transformation work, building knowledge and talent capacity, let alone the classic payroll, reviews and turnover questions brought on by volatile markets, change of directions or global expansion.
I could add more but organizational development is an extremely tough, challenging and pivotal role, often under-appreciated and struggling to gain their rightful seat at the top table.
Adding innovation as a simple add-on into HRM will not work
What we need to ‘flag’ today is that HRM has evolved to be at the vanguard of regulatory and compliance oriented. This mindset certainly can conflict with encouraging and developing more free-thinking needed for innovation and for HRM to shift over to supporting innovation will need further change within the HRM team itself. If it can achieve this ‘release’ of its shackles it might be seen as a ‘go to’ competence centre for people development again.
Managing the culture needed for innovation that fosters creativity would allow a flourishing of ideas and creativity many organizations need today. Can HRM make changes, firstly within themselves and then in taking hold of the development of the people side within the building of innovation competencies?
Presently HRM is little involved in the current innovation process where innovation is focused on developing and designing new products, services and often even excluded from the design of new innovation business models to find the best ways to break these out from existing organization design so they thrive and not just survive due to patronage alone.
The management of human resource needs to be replaced with the management of human creativity and ingenuity, as this is the triggering point to innovation success. The critical role of innovation is without question needed for the future growth, wealth creation and organizations potential survival. Who is to drive the human change required here? I believe HRM should have a lasting design impact and central engagement role in this.
HRM has a crucial role to play in the needs to facilitate and underpin the people factor as well designed into the organization, in every activity for making innovation the ‘way of life’ and well understood as corporately vital to be well support and consistently enhance in capabilities and capacities.
Those that attempt innovation gain valuable experience
If HRM took innovation into the core of organizational design, the mandate for each person is to get involved in innovation activity to gain valuable experience that enhances the desired capabilities for the future. If innovation is seen as core, you begin to break down the present barriers and mindsets that restrict innovation today by current behaviours, blocking innovating activity or placing constraints in allocating the required resources to ‘allow’ innovation to flourish.
HRM plays the critical role in breaking down the existing barriers (cultural, environmental, structural) and determines the need for information and knowledge sharing to actively lower one of innovations greatest barriers today, the not invented here, that existing within organizations both in themselves and in opening up to external new sources of stimulus. HRM can find clear ways to foster innovation in more open ways.
The changing role of organization design
There is a consistent need to sustain and secure a steady top-line and bottom-line growth, CEO’s tenure is mostly based on this. What is increasingly needed is to go beyond this expected ‘state’ and deliver the ‘wow’ factor, which comes mostly through innovation. Here top managers have to seek out speed, flexibility and adaptability as outlined earlier in this article but they also need to go beyond this. We come back to the ability to extract new value is in the individuals identifying, assimilating and exploiting knowledge and it is in recognizing this reverse flow, is where the HRM role needs to focus on a different organizational design.
Future leaders need to emerge not from managing existing assets well but in managing in increased uncertainties, being more adaptive, agile and responsive to changing needs. CEO’s are demanding creativity, flexibility and speed to size up, quickly seize and grab breaking opportunity. These newer demanded skills come from knowing how and where to go, to be well-connected across platforms of knowledge, having close client connectivity and being able to extract all the essentials, resources and commitments to enable execution. Adaptability to constant change has a very different mindset to be developed in our future leaders
HRM needs to be on the cutting edge of innovation and faces a stark choice
HRM does need to step up and define a new mandate for innovation. If innovation is ever going to achieve a core place within organizations it has to be deliberately designed in for skill definitions, leadership development and knowledge and experiences gained. HRM needs to cultivate, mobilize and capitalize innovation.
HRM needs to take on a more pivotal role for innovation. They can become central for a lasting place to plan and significantly contribute to building innovation capability and capacity or stay more passive and operate always in the outer periphery of today’s and the future corporate relevance that innovation needs to play.
I believe HRM needs a new raison d’être, one that comes from grabbing hold of innovation and making this core to the organizations future design. Building capabilities and capacities for innovation are essential to our organizations future well-being and HRM needs to step up and become far more engaged.
image credit: aprildamato.com
Paul Hobcraft runs Agility Innovation, an advisory business that stimulates sound innovation practice, researches topics that relate to innovation for the future, as well as aligning innovation to organizations core capabilities.