Skip to content

Managing Talent to Drive Innovation

Talent management is transforming. Despite an organizational evolution that breaks down functional silos, most companies are still fairly traditional with their hiring practices defined by a hierarchical talent operating system. On the other hand, some companies do feature cross-functional project teams that encourage innovation and collaboration. Other systems may have an option for employees to opt-in to rewarding, innovation focused work.

From Boredom to Burnout

The approach to innovation talent has evolved in this new globalized work world. While common themes have emerged, different organizations have chosen distinct paths. In this recent Innovation Talent Roundtable, the innovation community shared several thoughts on the search for innovation talent and fostering a culture of innovation.

Igniting innovation culture and talent is fraught with danger as, if you’re not careful, it can lead to burnout. Finding innovation talent that fits within a given organization is, to put it simply, challenging. Good innovation talent itself is elusive. Add to the equation that a given person not only needs to have the specific skill set being sought, but that same person must fit with corporate and innovation culture already established.

Once that talent is identified and makes it through sourcing and onboarding, nurturing must occur. That nurture program must be customized and personalized to the talent and consider from where the talent arrived– either internally or externally. And once the team has accepted that new talent, management must provide a perfect balance so as not to achieve either end of the innovation talent spectrum: burnout or boredom.

The Inside Gig

In an article in Forbes, “A New Approach to Talent Management,” Edie Goldberg, president of E.L. Goldberg & Associates, describes another “inside gig” talent operating model that fosters agility, grows capabilities without costly hiring cycles and reveals inner talents. She notes, “Like the innovation-focused model, this type of internal talent mobility allocates a certain amount of an employee’s time to work that is outside of their job description. But rather than designating a percentage of their time for blue-sky projects, HR leaders can steer employees toward projects that are mission-critical for the company. Also, the time employees work on these outside projects is not added to their regular work schedules but integrated into them.”

This inside gig type of work project can promote new functions for the employee, taps into their capabilities, helps them learn new skills and avoids extra hiring of new workers. And when employees come together cross-functionally, often innovation will ensue. This also encourages a shared resource approach among managers as they distribute their talent to different projects depending on their skills. And, of course, this could cultivate a culture of innovation from within.

“This new world of work, in which we create opportunities to facilitate internal talent mobility, also benefits the entire organization,” says Goldberg. “It improves organizational productivity, employee engagement and creativity. Taken together, these improvements enable a more agile workplace. HR leaders should bring the totality of their existing resources to bear on the projects that will help execute the business strategy.”

Create An Open Environment

So how can one manage innovation talent all the while fostering a culture of innovation excellence? We asked ChatGPT, and the artificial intelligence platform gave a few specific pointers. The answers highlight that creating an open environment is key, where participants are encouraged to collaborate and mentor. Diversity should not be overlooked as well when it comes to recruiting innovation talent.

  1. Create an innovative culture: Encourage and reward creative thinking, and provide employees with the opportunity to explore new ideas.
  2. Develop a formalized innovation process: Establish a framework for brainstorming, testing, and implementing new ideas that encourages collaboration across teams.
  3. Invest in training and development: Provide resources to help employees hone their skills in areas such as design thinking or product management so they can contribute more effectively to the innovation process.
  4. Foster mentorship programs: Connect experienced innovators with less-experienced ones to create an open learning environment where everyone can benefit from each other’s knowledge and experience.
  5. Prioritize diversity of thought: Ensure that your team is composed of individuals who bring different perspectives to the table, which will lead to more innovative solutions being proposed and implemented successfully.

A Learning Experience

Talent strategies for both large and small companies can be a challenging, yet learning, experience. Now more than ever, strategic planning is warranted. A respectful and open environment, which is diverse and inclusive, is an important aspect of creating value in the talent and hiring process. Empowering the team to communicate and course correct when needed further encourages a cycle of improvement.

“A culture that is focused on learning embraces experimentation, iteration and continuous improvement,” says Anne Rush, author of “Create a Winning Talent Strategy to Drive Innovation,” in Entrepreneur. Companies that encourage a culture of learning and education also tend to engage with the open source community more often as well, driving possible partnerships and open innovation development. To have a truly collaborative culture, you also need to ensure that managers at all levels are on board, says Rush.

Video courtesy of Stern Strategy Group

Contributor

  • Matt Kramer

    Matthew Kramer is the Digital Editor for All Things Insights & All Things Innovation. He has over 20 years of experience working in publishing and media companies, on a variety of business-to-business publications, websites and trade shows.

    View all posts
 
 

Related Content

Crumpled paper on top of idea/innovation sketch pad with drawing of light bulb.
FEI

FEI 2024 Report: The Future of Innovation

A successful three-day event marked Front End of Innovation (FEI) 2024 in Boston, held June 10 to 12 at the Omni Hotel at the Seaport. A reenergized a…

Lifting a hand weight at the gym/fitness theme.
consumer insights

Harnessing the Power of Consumer Insights

Innovation doesn’t happen in a silo, and a great product or idea can only go so far on its own. Tapping into the pulse of your consumer is key to ta…

Man shouting into a large megaphone.
agile methodology

Leaning into Crisis Innovation

In times of crisis, conventional wisdom seems to indicate that companies tighten the reins on personnel and their budgets, and that innovation efforts…

A white empty picture frame leaning on a white brick wall.
agile methodology

Selecting an Innovation Framework

The science of innovation, especially as seen through frameworks, is an important aspect of the operational process. With innovation a sometimes spraw…

A variety of ingredients in spoons. Diversity.
collective intelligence

Creating the Right Innovation Team

Innovation was often seen as the task of a lone inventor, but that mindset has changed over the years. Rather than the solitary genius approach to inn…

Yellow and black Caution hazard lines on pavement.
innovation goals

Avoiding Innovation Traps

The road to innovation can sometimes be straight and unencumbered. But more than likely, it can also be a long and winding route, with many obstacles…

Red warning light, signaling hazard.
collaboration

Moving Past Innovation Roadblocks

With the pace of change accelerating, fostering innovation in corporate enterprises can be a challenging task—a task that is very much dependent on…

Futuristic city at night with data points of light rising from the bottom.
data science

Mapping Out the Data-Innovation Journey

This year, in our latest Innovation Perspectives Report, the editors of All Things Innovation brought together a cross-section of innovation, insights…

Bulletin board with post it notes. One in center says Make Things Happen.
productivity

Managing Productive Innovation

Conservatively, I estimate that I’ve attended 20,000-plus meetings throughout my career. I’ll admit, many of them should have been replaced with email…

A blueprint with a pencil and ruler.
delivery effectiveness

Innovation Principles, 7/7

Once adequate competency, support, and size of a new team are secured, clear direction based on a purposeful vision, alignment with a winning game pla…

coin operated binoculars and open blue sky
innovation culture

The Road to FEI24: Analytics for Innovation

Anu Sundaram, Vice President, Business Analytics, Rue Gilt Groupe, is planning an interactive analytics session for FEI 2024, taking place this June….

A smiling little robot
technology

The Road to FEI24: Brunch with the Bots

Samantha Johnson, Founder & CEO at Tatum Robotics, will take part in FEI 2024 in several ways, including participating in the keynote sessions, “Bru…

mountain climbers trekking
innovation-led growth

Discovering the Innovation-Led Growth Journey

Advances in artificial intelligence are powering AI-driven innovation. As machines become smarter and tech developments are rapidly progressing, there…

explorer in a cave
anthropology

Applying AI to Anthropological Research

Agile research and methodologies are of primary importance to the innovation discipline, as they promote a more versatile, rapid, adaptive approach to…

Shopper in a grocery store.
risk management

8 Risks If You Don’t Have an AI Strategy

In the fast-paced world of Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG), where product life cycles are short and consumer trends shift with lightning speed, stay…

gross profit margin

Innovation Principles, 5/7

Gross Profit Margin and Net Present Value are two primary profitability indicators for evaluating an intended entrepreneurial offering. Even if suffic…

artificial intelligence

Gaining an Innovation Edge with Automation

With the focus on how artificial intelligence, as well as digital transformation efforts, can help streamline operations, it’s worth another look at…

startups

Creating the Right Innovation Partnership

Corporations often face many challenges when it comes to developing innovation in a fast, evolving market. They can face barriers such as inertia, the…

innovation talent

Bringing Sales and Innovation Together

Just how can innovation and sales work together to find success? Too often, companies find themselves stuck in their respective departments and the si…

innovation spiral

Innovation Principles, 4/7

The front end of innovation is a distinctly iterative endeavor based on human-centered, design-thinking principles. It could be represented by a spira…

innovation leadership

Winning the Innovation Strategy Game

We know that having a creative mindset can fuel innovation, and that fostering a culture of innovation is also important to get the job done. Yet ther…

innovation leadership

Taking Next Steps with Innovation Talent

As we head into the new year, taking the next steps with innovation talent remains an important question to explore. With the competitive landscape in…

innovation culture

PIE: Get Your Slice of Success

How can someone really stand out and succeed as a corporate innovator, get the most exciting projects, or secure a promotion? This is a question I enc…

digital transformation

Shaping the Future with Disruptive Technology

As we head into 2024, innovation of all types, most especially in technology, will continue to disrupt, transform and impact our lives, from the workp…

consultant mindset

Keeping Your Innovation Career Resilient

With the rise of technology, such as AI, impacting workers and workplaces, it’s safe to say the future of work is evolving—in innovation and in ma…

product development

Innovation Principles, 3/7

The main premise behind an integrated end-to-end continuum of innovation and new product development is that a holistic understanding of sequential de…

open innovation

Embracing Open Innovation

Open innovation is a growing tactic for today’s globalized enterprises. Rather than focusing just on closed loop systems and internal sources, such…

digital natives

Shaping the Next Generation of Innovation

Generation Z is in a unique position as they are often viewed as one of the first to be shaped and influenced by technology such as the Internet, soci…

product innovation

Innovation Principles, 2/7

Successful innovation endeavors are built on creative tension between key enabling entrepreneurial trade-offs associated with four must-have constitue…

risk management

Unlocking Business Growth Through Innovation

The business world is changing quickly for innovators and there is a growing and ever-present imperative to keep up. Business model transformations an…

digital innovation

Living in A Digital Transformation World

Digital transformation (DX) has been a hot topic in the innovation space for some time, but the term can be easily misunderstood as well. As we accele…

product innovation

Innovation Principles, 1/7

Imagine a case where a company’s growth depends on an innovation involving complex cross-disciplinary technologies such as electro-mechanical hardwa…

innovation culture

Sustaining the Self-Disruption Journey

The adage “disrupt or be disrupted” may not necessarily always mean the same thing to the same companies. Even the original architects of disrupti…

innovation culture

Playing the Game of Disruption

At FEI, Angelina Carvajal, Strategy & Innovation Partner, Sr. Dir. (Optum Advisory), UnitedHealth Group, had a chance to share her thoughts on disrupt…

innovation mindset

Creating the Happiness Mindset for Innovation

With 2023 often being labeled the year of uncertainty, it comes as no surprise that consumers, and the innovation community, has had its fair share of…

breakthrough innovation

Breaking Through Challenges to Problem Solve

While it’s important to learn from best practices from large and innovative enterprises, it’s also valuable to hear from the startup community. At…

sustainability

Powering Innovation’s Long-Term Play

Ishan Jaithwa, Manager, New Growth Areas, Cummins Inc., sat down with All Things Innovation’s Seth Adler at our studio at the FEI conference. Jaithw…

artificial intelligence

AI Photo Shoot: Innovation Catalyst or Killer?

In a groundbreaking move, Glamour magazine in Bulgaria has unveiled the first-ever magazine cover shoot entirely generated by artificial intelligence…

product innovation

Design Thinking Faces the Pace of Change

Seth Adler of All Things Innovation recently caught up with Prapti Jha, T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Harvard University, at this year’s FEI co…

ideation

Opening the Doors of Innovation Perception

Seth Adler of All Things Innovation caught up with Cory Sorice, SVP and Chief Innovation Officer, Masonite International, during this year’s FEI con…

digital transformation

Beyond Innovation Theater

At FEI, All Things Innovation conducted a special roundtable, bringing cross industry, cross disciplinarians together to talk about transformation and…

digital transformation

Supporting Data with Design Thinking

At FEI, All Things Innovation conducted a special roundtable, bringing cross industry, cross disciplinarians together to talk about transformation and…

disruption

Achieving Transformational Innovation

At FEI, All Things Innovation conducted a special roundtable, bringing cross industry, cross disciplinarians together to talk about transformation and…

innovation culture

The Finance Factor in Innovation

The finance function in an organization often gets tabbed as a bottom line-oriented, conservative department that more often than not stifles innovati…

innovation team

Setting the Strategic Direction

A chief strategy officer (CSO) is increasingly becoming a more relevant element to a research and development team in an organization. An innovation t…

innovation team

Managing the Marketing of Innovation

Even some of the best new innovations might fail if there’s no effective marketing behind the product or service. With an emphasis on cross-collabor…

agility

Playing Moneyball for the Win

In the popular baseball movie “Moneyball,” the character Peter Brand (played by Jonah Hill) highlights the “epic failure” of MLB leadership in managin…

innovation mindset

Putting Together Your Innovation Team

As the community’s recent Innovation Spend & Trends Report indicated, innovation teams are not working in a bubble, or at least not as much as they…

co-creation

Generating Innovation Through Ideation

Ideation is often confused with innovation, along with other related terms regarding the creative process, such as brainstorming or design thinking. W…

innovation culture

Balancing Innovation with Ambidexterity

Innovators have long been tasked with being a flexible part of an ambidextrous team, as part of an organizational cog that can easily pivot and manage…

disruption theory

Defining Disruptive Innovation

Disruptive innovation is often a phrase used to make a splash in the business world. Some may debate that the label has been applied carelessly at tim…

innovation culture

Growing a Culture for Business Innovation

Whether it entails a large jump or a small step, the innovation pipeline for a business keeps it moving forward through a competitive landscape. Busin…

gaining true value

Gaining True Value While Moving Forward

The All Things Innovation community came together in this Gathering on Innovation Strategy to drive immediate lessons learned through the first half o…

artificial intelligence

Diving Into Humanity-Centric Innovation

With the continued emergence and evolving development of artificial intelligence, there rises a question of how humans and AI can work together more e…

innovation talent

Tapping Into the Innovation Talent Pipeline

In the last few years, the pandemic and a range of other economic factors have influenced the talent recruitment, development and retention practices…

innovation talent

Ignite a Culture of Innovation

From the successes to the failures, from the breakthroughs to the breaking points, the innovation community knows all too well that fostering a cultur…

innovation culture

Innovation During A Downturn

Whether you believe the USA is headed toward or already in a recession, there are signs of a slowing or reversal of economic activity. Of the 15 metri…

successful innovation

Striving for Successful Innovation

In the quest for innovation, there is often a fine line between success and failure. The road to success is not always clear, easy or convenient. Howe…

inclusion

Innovation Diversity

Black, Indigenous and People of Color have always been leaders in innovation and it’s time for us to put that at the forefront. DEI, or Diversity Eq…

human resources

Fostering Innovation

When you start to talk that way and lead that way, people do feel more psychologically safe to support change and support innovation that’s happenin…

innovation leadership

Breakthrough Innovation

While the rest of the industry relies on iterative change, Alex Moyes explains the breakthrough innovation happening at Dominion Energy. “So Dominio…

technology

Innovation Reality

When working remotely, the main challenge is bringing people into an office when they live across the country or around the world. The AES Corporation…

innovation leadership

Control The Sails

Although the world was affected heavily with change in the last few years, not much in the business world has changed as far as topics and issues go….

innovation leadership

Innovation Culture

Innovation starts with the employees of an organization. As we know, the people that work for a business are some of its greatest assets. In today’s…

technology

Interaction Innovation

We are at a time in history of incredible change and technological innovations, such as the rise of machine intelligence, and companies who keep doing…

sustainability

Humanity-Centric Innovation

Humanity-centric innovation is the idea of solving the biggest problems facing humanity in an economically viable way. Pete Dulcamara, Chief Scientist…

data and analytics

Measurable Innovation

Each company has their own KPIs that are important to their specific business in place to progress and be successful. Are people at the forefront of i…

innovation culture

Certain Uncertainty

Life is uncertain in every way. It’s always interesting to meet new people and try new things. On the other hand, attackers may sometimes appear out o…

innovation mindset

Rolling Innovation

If you’ve done it once, you can do it again. Make sure to keep doing it, it’s rolling innovation. Amber Case sits down with us to discuss how impo…

advancing innovation

Strategic Innovation

Any new concept or technological advancement will continue to change and advance. Landlines were commonplace before smartphones. Remember those? What…

partnerships

Innovation Intelligence

It seems that innovation is one of the biggest buzzwords in business now. To sustain growth and be competitive in the marketplace, companies in every…

innovation culture

Innovation As Constant Change

The key strategy to a successful business is to know when they are being innovative or are just transforming their status quo according to market tren…