Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Innovators, innovation teams and the innovation process 16 – strategically involving and including Human Resources in the innovative process and its facilitation

Posted in HR and personnel, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on July 28, 2013

This is my sixteenth installment in a series on innovators and the process of innovation (see HR and Personnel, postings 154 and following for Parts 1-15.) I began explicitly discussing the role of Human Resources in innovation sourcing in Part 15: sourcing innovation from an HR and Personnel perspective. My goal there was to briefly sketch out in broad outline, some of the key issues that arise when considering how HR would best help to facilitate and enable innovative excellence in an organization, as a matter of best practices for its specific business context. And I continue that line of discussion here in this posting, where I consider Human Resources from the perspective of the business’ C level officers and executives. As a starting point for that, I reiterate from the end of Part 15 that:

• Providing essential resources for developing, cultivating and managing creative potential in the organization is “one of the core responsibilities that Human Resources needs to take ownership of if it is to offer long-term value to a 21st century business, and particularly for large and complex ones with extensive and varied pools of available employees and employee skill sets.”

I could easily have added “… and complex and varied skill set needs” to the end of that. With or without that additional clarifying wording, an active awareness of the potential that HR holds for enabling innovation and innovation-driven competitiveness in a business is essential as a building block for developing effective ongoing strategy. And an effective, proactive support of Human Resources as a value creation resource has to come from the top and from the executive leadership of the organization, if this point of principle is to be made a working, value creating reality. That is the topic for this posting.

• And I begin with the fundamentals: this is not about Human Resources as a functional unit on a table of organization, with whatever functional area organization and bureaucracy that it has developed. This is about the human resources: the pool of employees that this department or service helps its business to better work with: the full range of employees at all levels on the table of organization that collectively comprises its workforce and its workplace community.

I write this in the middle of 2013, and as of this writing and certainly when still just coming out of our recent global economic slowdowns, and with our all too jobless a recovery, and with unemployment levels staying so high so persistently:

• Many employers, and from lower level hiring managers on through to and including C level officers and business owners, see employees and job seekers as freely interchangeable commodities. They act at least, as if they assume that if they lose an employee and for essentially any reason – any employee, they can always readily replace them without any pauses or problems or additional expenses. I have written about that before and in that regard cite, by way of example, Effective Operational Execution Means Never Taking Your Staff for Granted. And also see The balanced Workforce – 1 and its Part 2 continuation.
• This is a crucial mistake, and certainly as a business finds itself needing more and more highly skilled and experienced workers, and where its competitive edge and even its capacity to effectively compete at all depend on its having a skilled and knowledgeable workforce.

As soon as the executive leadership of a business begins to really see and understand how they depend on their skilled and experienced employees as one of their most central sources of their competitive strength and their business’ vitality, and as soon as they begin to internalize this understanding and convert it into practice, they need to start bringing HR into their strategic circle to make sure that they find, secure and keep the best employees, and that they work to keep them the best at what they do.

• So from a senior executive and overall strategic perspective, developing Human Resources so that it best helps the business remain innovatively competitive, is all about reimagining the role and value of the employee workforce that hands-on carries out the business of the business.
• And the next logical step after that is that those executives both insist that their HR department or service carry through on all of the needed functions that would be called on for it to fulfill that wider role,
• And that senior HR managers be found who can and will follow this strategically driven operational course.

With that, I turn to consider strategic and operational processes as would be carried out within HR, and from its leadership on down. I will also explicitly discuss how HR would reach out to other services and departments in giving their managers the tools they need to bring in, supervise and manage, and retain best employees for their teams. And I will then circle back to consider performance metrics in evaluating both non-HR managers and Human Resources as a management enabling resource in fulfilling this complex of goals of keeping the business innovatively competitive. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at HR and Personnel and also at Business Strategy and Operations and at its continuation pages: Business Strategy and Operations – 2 and Business Strategy and Operations – 3.

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