Innovation: Why And How HR Plays a Crucial Role

Expert: Jan KennedyCurator: Paul Hobcraft

Ex Intrapreneur at Intel, scaled a Silicon Valley tech startup $250 million, director at world’s largest accelerator, now scaling Intrapreneurship in Fortune 500s.

00 // Intro

01 // How do you make HR a vital partner for your innovation program?

02 // In which stage of the innovation process can HR bring best value?

03 // How does being involved in innovation affect careers? Is there a return on learning?

// Summary

HR often gets a bad rap, but look deeper into HR’s challenging issues and it’s clear that most stem from a lack of alignment with the organization’s wider strategic vision and objectives.

Jan Kennedy believes that when properly harnessed, human resources can become a true catalyst for fundamental shifts in mindset and corporate culture. He sat down with curator Paul Hobcraft to talk about getting HR on board for innovation, developing a pool of highly skilled talent and using resources efficiently.

Invite HR to the innovation table

Make HR an intrinsic part of your innovation strategy by starting with a clear understanding of each other’s goals and objectives to determine how they might align. Jan suggests exploring these HR-driven KPIs and goals worth exploring.

Employee Engagement
Employer Branding
Innovation Acceleration
Talent Acquisition and Retention
Leadership Funnels

Pitch innovation strategy to HR by focusing on simplicity, perhaps suggesting a pilot project with only two teams. Through an iterative process, collectively fine tune the innovation program’s positioning, buy-in, finances and ideal candidates. With an aligned strategy at all levels, innovation will then be ready to scale.

Make HR a crucial ally

Building an internal framework for innovation works in three steps: attract, form and execute. HR is your best ally in that first phase, where getting the right people in the program is key. HR has the power to diminish perceived risk by demonstrating that innovation programs are one track amongst others: if an idea doesn’t work or the innovation process isn’t a good fit, an opportunity can arise to intentionally shift focus and resources on a new career path.

Harness HR brainpower in:

Ideation: HR is a source of information and context when it comes to deciding how to communicate and position an innovation initiative within a larger organization.

Identifying early adopters: As your front line for new recruits, your HR team has the ability to strategically identify, qualify and quantify candidate alignment with innovation targets and mindsets.

Strategic testing: In his experience, Jan has seen a 30-40% difference in performance from candidates that have undergone carefully crafted, systematic personality and aptitude testing in the early stages of the selection process.

Mitigating fear: To many, the idea of being pulled out of a job in order to risk failure has little appeal. By creating a clear, well-communicated framework around innovation career tracks and acceleration programs, HR allows people with a potentially disruptive idea to understand what they’re getting into: a structured program that encourages pivots, informative failures, open-minded communication and around-the-bend ideas.

Build an army of intrapreneurs

Beyond helping organizations craft high-impact leadership funnels towards C-suite positions, a culture of innovation and respect allows for great ideas and entrepreneurial spirit to bubble up to the surface. While financial incentives and status may hold some sway, the intrapreneurs you should be looking for tend to be driven by something more.

“You’re looking for the people that are willing to put in the extra effort. They have to see it as: this is an opportunity to impact my organization in a way that I could never have done before.”

Recent stats show that up to 70% of the workforce is somewhat or actively disengaged from their work. Providing opportunities for purpose and investing in new ideas are opportune ways for employees to feel heard, respected and valued.