Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Don’t invest in ideas, invest in people with ideas 22 – bringing innovators into a business and keeping them there 5

Posted in HR and personnel, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on June 4, 2016

This is my twenty second installment in a series on cultivating and supporting innovation and its potential in a business, by cultivating and supporting the creative and innovative potential and the innovative drive of your employees and managers, and throughout your organization (see HR and Personnel – 2, postings 215 and loosely following for Parts 1-21.)

I initially set up two innovator hiring campaign scenarios in Part 20, towards the end of that posting, and began addressing them in Part 21.

• A product and service innovation example, where I focused on New in a rapidly changing high technology field, and on bringing new sources of innovative excellence into that process (see Part 21 for my coverage of that), and
• Business process innovation, where I will focus on lower level and middle managers who have been given a measure of opportunity in the course of their work lives and who have actively worked to develop and implement newer and better in their business practices, as for example in satellite offices or separate functional teams that they have managed.

My goal for this posting is to delve into the issues and challenges of addressing the second of these scenarios. And I begin that by noting a crucially important background detail:

• Businesses do not generally see need to innovatively reimagine and reframe business processes or approaches that are in place and that have come to be taken for granted, unless and until a real need to do so has been compellingly created by the emergence of undeniable performance problems. This means that addressing this type of change is in most cases going to be at least largely reactive. And that is one of the primary reasons why I added at the end of Part 21, in anticipation of this installment that I would consider the second scenario as repeated above from an “outsource versus hire” context.
• I will do that, and will also consider this from a “reactive versus proactive” perspective.

First some clarification: reactive here, does not necessarily mean unequivocal need for true change management remediation, but it does mean at the very least a perceived slippage in competitive strength and position, and in the level of resiliency needed to address that, as the competition is seen to be moving ahead while the business under review here is not. And this is definitely a place where a third party outsider: a business management consultant who will come in and then leave, can offer particular value – and particularly where their successfully doing their work would require cutting across lines in the table of organization and in ways that are not permitted, in-house. So the “outsource versus hire” question is at least as much a question of communications and gaps in that across an organization, and authority and decision making rights and how they are partitioned across the organization, as it is one of actually addressing emergent problems. This is important.

• When the goal in hiring for innovation is one of finding the right people to update and improve the products and services that a business can bring to market, that can create conflicts within an organization and along and across its table of organization. But it can be a lot easier to bring otherwise competing voices in an organization to at least agree that corrective change is needed.
• When the goal is to innovatively improve basic business processes and systems of them in place, the added challenge of conflict and disagreement within the business, and often across the lines of the table of organization – or up and down key lines there, can be assumed as a basic starting point – and even if this move is being championed from the most senior leadership of the business.
• Though I add in that context, that a real need for this type of change usually emerges much lower down and in the offices of, and work experience of lower level and middle managers who are on the bleeding edge of process inefficiencies and who have been driven to see need for change there. And there, the conflict and disagreement they have to contend with as they seek to champion change, is likely to be budgetary in nature.

That only addresses the reactive side to this. The goal for any business that genuinely seeks to be innovative should be to be proactively innovative and in both what they offer to their markets, and in their business and its internal processes that support achieving that too. I am going to continue this discussion in a next installment where I will address the shift from only approaching business process change reactively, towards developing a more proactive capability there too. Then after that, I will turn to the issues of actually finding and onboarding the right people for this, there focusing on bringing them in-house as full employees. I will at least start with resumes and cover letters, and social media and other, related information channels there. Then, I will open this discussion up again to consider bringing in the right innovators in general again – there focusing in interviews, and on opening up the range of areas that would be addressed, beyond the more routine and even cookie-cutter limitations of more standard jobs and careers issues. What else could you add into these conversations to more fully identify real innovative potential and what is the best way to do this without getting these meetings side-tracked?

Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings and series at Business Strategy and Operations – 4, and also at Page 1, Page 2 and Page 3 of that directory. Also see HR and Personnel and HR and Personnel – 2.

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