Keys to innovation at Cochlear

There are two important ingredients in innovation, according to Cochlear’s senior vice president of HR, Anne-Marie Leslie

The first is to make strategy clear and execute on it, and the second is to remove barriers to personal creativity for employees, she said.

“Innovation and creativity come from an environment where you allow people to use their innate creativity,” said Leslie.

“So it’s important ensure people are not caught up in tasks and other things that take them away from the core focus of their role, and then create an environment where there is focus and clarity on what’s needed so that people can deliver on the goals and apply their creativity to this.”

Leslie said she is a very strong believer that people are really the enabler of all business success, and the keys to this are managing behaviours that lead to results – and not trying to manage results.

An effective leadership system is an important part of this process, as building leadership capability will help guide actions to help people achieve the results required and execute on business strategy.

“People want growth and continual development, so we have very systematic and global approaches around attraction, retention, performance management, capability development”

A key part of fostering innovation for HR is in making sure the business has the right capabilities in place and that these are deployed, aligned and supported accordingly.

Cochlear maps and plans what capabilities are required as it develops future business strategies, and Leslie said HR helps to build talent pools to support these.

“It’s about making sure we’ve got the right people in the right jobs at the right time, and in HR we’ve put a lot of effort in terms of attraction and really recruiting the best fit for now and into the future,” she said.

“So we have put a lot of work into our recruitment processes, building our employee value proposition and then creating new opportunities for learning.

“People want growth and continual development, so we have very systematic and global approaches around attraction, retention, performance management, capability development.”

Within the learning team, for example, supporting capability development for each generation of product has been a critical contribution from HR to the business.

“Bringing more thinking about instructional design into some of those learning processes has been just one of the things we’ve helped with,” said Leslie, who added that hiring the right people has been made easier by employing a common set of values and behavioural competencies, which are used for recruitment, performance management and learning.

Additionally, the business employs common HR systems globally for learning, recruiting, performance management and other processes.

For the full story and interview with Leslie see the next issue of Inside HR magazine.