Unlocking Innovation Through Change and Transparency

170442564When it comes to the labor market, it seems the tide is starting to turn. After years of conservative hiring plans, many leaders are once again looking to increase headcount to meet rising demand. This is a critical moment for organizations, as leaders are more aware than ever that the success of an organization relies on the talent within it.

As Dr. Klaus Schwab, founder of The World Economic Forum, explains in a Wall Street Journal blog post:

“Capital is being superseded by creativity and the ability to innovate – and therefore by human talents – as the most important factors of production. Just as capital replaced manual trades during the process of industrialization, capital is now giving way to human talent. Talentism is the new capitalism.”

One of the key reasons organizations are competing to hire top talent is to drive innovation. And not just the more traditional view of innovation as a stimulus for new product development. But innovation as a differentiator – both strategic and practical. Yes, strategic innovation is necessary to help companies evolve their offerings to maintain a market edge. But the same innovation must also occur on a daily basis, at the point of attack. That requires knowledge, experience and expertise throughout the organization. Despite all of the progress we attribute to technology, innovation is still driven by the individual – and that requires top talent. In its absence, organizations are doomed to gravitate toward mediocrity.

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Building the right team is only half the battle. Your industry’s best and brightest – the smartest in their field – will fail miserably unless they are given permission to succeed, to think outside the box and to challenge the status quo. Creating an environment like this requires a major shift in how organizations manage and direct their activities. It requires openness, transparency and a fundamental culture of change.

I am amazed at how often leaders revert to management styles of the past – command and control, top down directives and blind trust. Information is coveted as if it is somehow privileged, making those who have it powerful, and creating the very situation where zero visibility is possible.

That style won’t work with today’s workforce. Times change, and so to do the cultural expectations of each generation. In an era where information flows freely and ideas, thoughts and feelings are shared digitally for all the world to see, the same expectations apply to organizational dynamics.

Contemporary leaders create a culture where information is a shared asset and leveraged to build trust within the team. They nurture their talent community and ensure communication is clear and consistent. And most importantly, they give their workforce permission to take risks, to challenge the status quo and to improve the process (with impunity).

Make no mistake, these fundamental shifts are already underway, and change will continue to accelerate as the war for talent intensifies. The only way to survive – and ultimately thrive – is to embrace this shift, focus your strategy on talent and develop a culture where change is the norm and communication is open and transparent.

MORE: Putting lipstick on a pig and calling it innovation

Kip Wright

Kip Wright
Kip Wright is senior vice president of Manpower, North America and can be reached at kip.wright (at) manpowergroup (dot) com.

Kip Wright

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