A recent blog posting on Blessing White entitled HR’s Role in Strategic Thinking, opens with this thought… “The keys to being a successful innovator have less to do with R&D process or the number of patents filed. Instead, what distinguishes innovative firms from the less-innovative ones are things like culture, talent, and incentive structure.”
To that I say, “Amen.”
Anyone who has been reading this blog for the last few years knows where Madison stands on that issue. We have been arguing that true incremental innovation comes from the front lines, where engaged and committed people adapt and create. During the course of everyday performance they solve problems, create solutions and perfect how they do their jobs. All of that individualized application adds value to the organization.
Of course, socializing those personal patents (even commercializing them) across the enterprise is where the strategic contribution of HR comes into play. Recognition systems implemented by progressive companies can encourage and capture the type of prudent risk taking that yields new methods and procedures. In fact, companies that consistently recognize new ideas are two and a half times more likely to generate them on a consistent basis.
The C-suite is expecting HR to be a stronger, strategic contributor to the business. That makes sense. No matter what business model or industry group you compete in, your people are your primary source of competitive advantage. Advocating reward strategies that will help your company uncover and capitalize on innovative practices and procedures—self-created by engaged employees—is a great example of how HR can bring a strategic perspective to the task of maximizing the impact of each and every employee.