Leveraging People Strategy To Enable Business Innovation
For any company to become an innovation leader, a forward-looking people strategy is needed that incentivizes workers to become productive members of an innovative enterprise.
One people strategy tactic that works is tying financial compensation to innovation goals that an organization is attempting to achieve. For example, a company may set compensation bonuses for filing patents, achieving certain R&D benchmarks, or releasing a certain number of new products to market. More broadly, it may relate to the financial performance of a specific division or unit. Hitting revenue or profitability goals, for example, might trigger financial payouts.
More broadly, though, any people strategy must extend beyond just financial compensation. It means positioning the company as a place that is attractive not only to current workers, but also to potential recruits. In the first case, this means the encouragement of specific policies, such as flexible scheduling or time off for sabbaticals, that encourage workers to perform at their very best while pursuing their passions!
Leveraging people strategy means establishing a type of corporate culture that rewards innovation. Even something as simple as “2 days working from home” may be the key to boosting business innovation if it helps to change the corporate culture. Once a company establishes a reputation as a place where innovation and creative ideas flourish, it is easier to attract the best and the brightest.
The classic example of a people strategy at work, of course, is Google. Laszlo Bock, the SVP of People Operations at Google, has outlined in his new book “Work Rules!” the various ways that the company continually ensures that it is among the most innovative workplaces in the world. Until recently, the company even encouraged something known as 20 percent time – the idea that employees should be dedicating 20 percent of their time in the office to coming up with new ideas and product concepts. This famously led to Gmail, which was among the first of Google’s “20 percent innovations.”
It’s not just within Silicon Valley, though, that companies attempt to leverage people strategy to become innovation leaders. Nevada-based retailer Zappos has become an innovation leader by integrating unique concepts to its management structure. One idea is that recently-hired employees were offered $1,000 to quit. This offer acted as a test, to ensure that only people who were committed to the organization would remain.
“Holacracy” – a system for self-organization
Another tactic was to create a completely flat organization, without any managers or titles. Without the bothersome hierarchy of titles, the thinking goes, employees will be freed up to think and act creatively. Do you believe this “system” would work for you/your team/your organisation?
The linchpin of any people strategy, of course, is the ability to find and hire the right employees. New trends in the management space include everything from staging massive “Hackathons” to finding creative freelance tech workers capable of devising innovative solutions on the fly, from integrating trendy Agile / Scrum style departments, to holding “blind auditions” (in which companies do not know the name or identity of the applicant), so as to encourage a more diverse workforce.
Going forward, it’s almost certain that we will continue to see new innovations in “People Strategy” – as organizations attempt to figure out how to hire the best and brightest, collaborate and share meaningful ways to work – that drive bottom-line business growth of the organization.
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