The race for talent today means that corporations will have to use novel methods to attract new talent. From sponsoring technology schools to hiring experienced expat knowledge workers to return back home so they can retool their organizations. Firms will begin to retool their legacy office spaces and hire architecture firms to create a new vibe allowing for more creativity that will attract and retain talent. Firms will begin to rebrand their organizations to be a cool and unique organization that uses the latest and greatest in culture, healthy living and a focus on the employee wants and needs. New roles like Ambassador of Buzz and Chief Curator establish a vibe to attract talent from Bay Area tech firms. Corporations will begin to reduce their dependence on off-shore tech companies and consulting firms and move forward to build in-house innovation departments. Corporations will need to increase corporate spending on retraining of mature employee.
So what are some of the steps to help retain and provide your employees a place to separate time and space to innovate?
The first steps needed within an organization prior to beginning your innovation journey is to examine your own team’s innovation readiness. Some of the best ideas come from your own team members. Many of your own team members with years of domain experience can produce a constant pipeline of ideas that can help your organization disrupt your industry. Your organization also has team members that may not be ready to share their insights due to a legacy corporate culture that does not enable a safe and open and honest conversation to inspire an innovative culture. Building an innovation culture is the first step prior to acquiring an idea management software like Spigit or Ideator. You must consider your organization’s innovation culture. Organizations are prematurely acquiring these types of software to help collect ideas from their own organizations without examining their own team innovation maturity.
Before I explain what an innovation culture is, I should discuss the current state of the public or privately held corporation, colleges / universities and how students are opting out of traditional employment in corporations. Universities and colleges are producing prospective students for corporations. Many of these students are selecting other opportunities like the start-up market that is fast paced, risk filled and, in a fail fast culture. Other reasons are that banks, hospitals, and insurance companies are not attracting the talent needed to backfill retiring employees due to existing legacy technologies stacks and stodgy leadership teams with attitudes that cannot relate to the students’ needs. These needs include latest technologies, flexible work schedules, health and wellness, relaxed dress codes, diverse workforce and a support system that allows for a culture that helps the community.
The lack of progressive corporate leadership styles are souring many talented prospects from entering the corporate job market. The same legacy corporations that are souring prospective talent have a great deal of influence on the universities and colleges to shape the curriculum to become more creative and innovative. Due to the focus on maintaining the status quo within a firm and the tenure within the firm they take years to make a course correction. When a “Hippo” 1 (highest paid person's opinion) makes the decisions within an organization the innovation and the culture offer suffers. The paradox in all of this is that students that graduated 20 years ago from the very universities that were innovative at the time have become so conservative that they have created a culture of status quo to keep the machine running, vs a culture of innovation.
In many corporations the execution of projects is the focus of many of the activities from upgrading business systems to building new production plants, projects are a primary activity within the company. Corporate projects fall into a few categories: revenue, operations, and compliance, and are run by a project management office or project manager. A focus on quality, time, and cost ensures when projects are completed. With all the focus on project execution, there is little time for innovation and employees are not taught to think creatively. We are taught to execute on projects and not to fail or rapid learning culture. Business schools teach management principles that were developed in the later industrial revolution to solve the large-company management problem--not the innovation problem 2. Corporations focused on project execution and maintaining the status quo can overlook talent that comes nontraditional degrees like art, English and history and focused on a traditional employee from accounting, finance, and engineering. This could be why organizations need to unlearn from the traditional organizational approaches and learn how to inspire and mentor talent and begin to build a brand around innovation. Innovation as a culture is an approach that needs to be developed from the middle up and top down with total support form executive leadership. The innovation culture enables teams to fail, create, learn and are giving employees an opportunity to talk freely in a safe environment. What a safety environment provides your employees is a safety net to ask why to anyone in your organization or to experiment on a new business model with support.
The innovation journey doesn't start with deploying mega trends like AR/VR, deep learning or blockchain, it is about changing the organization's culture that supports their careers by supporting a separation in time a space to allow innovation of ideas and concepts. Meaning separation of time and space allows employees to leave the organization to fulfill outside interests helping the journey to an innovative culture. Along with understanding your team’s current leadership state of mind, your teams need to be evaluated to determine their ability to innovate. If team members are not motivated or are prepared to help, you will need to provide the tools to unlearn their team style to effectively change the culture. If they cannot or are not willing to change they need to be managed out of the organization.
The organization that changes the scenery and believe that have made a cool space with high end coffee and cool seating arrangements will not move the needle. The organization must challenge employees with work that is inspiring by reducing emails and meetings and exposing employees to work that is stimulating and exciting.