People Drive Innovation
Enterprise focuses on innovation. Even as it engenders positive transformation of the way work is done, innovation demolishes existing business models and the jobs attached to them. Yet, in the current competitive environment, it is a necessary for survival. A previous reliance on in-house only product-and-process development is rapidly giving way to open-sourced, external ideas as sources of innovation.
To this end, corporations are developing new internal systems and restructuring workflow processes to readily accept open innovation from reasonable sources, both within and external to the organization. A firm's internal mechanisms are essential to support development of an innovation-culture, but its people who drive innovation, they do so because:
- Employee's familiarity with products-and-processes positions them to identify problems in corporate performance and seek their resolution.
- People recognize serendipity as a source of innovation and have the ability to expand on random insight.
- People have the capacity to learn from their false-starts and failures, finding innovation among mistakes.
- People from diverse backgrounds can combine elements of their distinct experiences to provide the unexpected ideas that resolve problems innovatively.
- Outsourced open innovation brings fundamentally new ideas into what is often a formulaic corporate culture with static operating procedures.
- These factors require the individual and team-contributions of people from within and external to the organization to stimulate innovation. See Figure 1.
Managing Innovative People
Appropriate management is necessary to ensure the contributions of individuals and teams lead to cohesive solutions for issues confronting the organization. Managing the people-side of innovation requires administrative personnel recognize and focus:
- The distinctiveness of each contributor's talents relative to other individuals working on a problem.
- What needs to be done to develop appropriate trust among innovation-team members.
- How the contributions of individuals working outside a specific team can be coordinated with the larger project.
- Assuring the ideas of external partners are interactively aligned with those of internal employees.
Developing your corporate innovation culture requires appropriate identification of your innovators – those people whose entrepreneurial, problem-resolution vision drives organization growth. Once identified, they require management’s encouragement and support, motivating their contributions by creating the organizational flexibility to let their ideas evolve for your company’s benefit.
The people side of innovation is inescapable. Its true that not so long ago, corporate innovation was thought necessary primarily for a firm’s technology or R&D departments, and was expected to emanate only from within the organization. That is no longer the case, particularly with the onset of computerized, mobile enterprise, and global businesses requiring open-sourcing of ideas and problem resolution. Despite the evolution of open innovation and business-model innovation, some firms retain a top-heavy structural configuration that obstructs the advancement of innovators and the essentially new ideas they offer their firms.
Companies that fail to upgrade their innovative capabilities find themselves losing consumer interest, market share and some of their best people. "Before innovative internal collaboration can exist a culture must be in place that promotes the innovation." The culture truly open to accessing the people side of innovation does not limit itself to the contributions of internal players within the organization, but seeks open innovation as well, from external collaborators, expanding the base of corporate adaptability and creativity.
This innovation culture requires well-developed communication both within the communication and among open-sourced partners. Networking capabilities are also emphasized, with people provided the freedom to innovate, and given financial incentives and rewards commensurate to their contributions.