3 keys to fostering a culture of innovation

HR is a both a facilitator and catalyst of creating an innovation culture within an organisation, according to an expert in the field.

This process for HR starts with ensuring that a business is attracting and retaining the people with the skills, attributes and mindset of innovative thinkers capable of driving the cultural change and innovation execution; to developing and implementing performance management and learning frameworks (formal and informal) that drive and develop people to have an innovative culture.

“Innovation as a KPI needs to be supported by performance reviews and remuneration to make it tangible to an organisation,” said James Mabbott, head of innovation services for KPMG Australia.

3 steps to improving innovation
He said there are three steps HR and executives can take to improve organisational innovation – the first of which is to embed innovation in the organisation’s strategy.

“Innovation needs to be a part of your core business objectives and requires clear and visible support from the CEO and executive team,” said Mabbott, who will be speaking at The Power of Many Conference on 22 June in Canberra.

“Have a specific champion for innovation who is part of the leadership team – someone who is engaged, driven and ruthless about driving innovation across the business is critical.”

The second most important ingredient in innovation is leadership, and Mabbott said it is important to change the way leadership thinks about innovation.

“Build innovation and vulnerability into leadership development programs, including those that select future leaders.”

The third most important element is resources, he added.

“Provide funding to get ideas off the ground and give people time to pursue concepts from idea to prototype to test to implementation,” said Mabbott.

Overcoming innovation hurdles
There are a number of common disconnects in organisations when it comes to building a genuine culture of innovation internally – especially within large organisations, he added.

“Innovation thrives when there is a safe to fail environment and culture – and this doesn’t sit easily with large organisation who tend to be risk averse and hierarchical,” said Mabbott.

“The most common disconnect is when there is no link between the need to innovate, and the vision and purpose of the organisation. To truly create an innovation culture means embedding innovation practices into every part of the organisation.

“If you want to build a genuine innovation culture then it needs to be a part of everyone’s accountabilities – and not seen as the responsibility of one group or department.

“Ultimately to be successful, you need to engage your people.”

James Mabbott will be speaking at The Power of Many Conference 2015, which will be held from 22 to 24 June in Canberra.