HR shall be an Enabler of Innovation – Kris Shankar

Innovation and HR needs to be understood and applied in the correct context. Every organization has an inherent culture krishshankar350_071313022408based on the stage of its evolution as well as the mission. HR practitioner should understand the kind of innovation culture that can be adopted by the company. For example, companies like Philips need to focus on sustainable innovation practices to keep ahead of the competition. Similarly, companies that are new entrants would most t disruptive practices to instil sense of innovation amongst its employees. There are very few companies that are able to stretch itself on both end of spectrum i.e. incremental as well as disruptive innovation.

1The concept of ‘punctuated equilibrium’, theory in evolutionary biology, can also be applied in the current business context. Every company and the industry undergoes phases of stabilization as well as rapid changing environment. Companies that can innovate periodically will be able to maintain its market leadership. One of the example cited was IBM, which was able to reinvent itself from time to time by changing its business models, product portfolio, and management & people practices.

2Adoption of David Nadler’s Congruence Model can help companies to analyse complex organizational problems, including those related to HR practices. Companies based on their products & services can be categorised as – a) Incremental innovator, b) Applied innovator or c) Breakthrough innovator. The model can be used to define the work culture, people attributes and formal & informal organisation based on these categorisation.

3Third aspect that helps in building innovative companies is identifying and managing the belief systems. Belief systems are intertwined with company’s culture and value systems. Ideas and practices that can drive high belief across the organisation will be able to achieve groundswell effect to harbour and nurture innovation. To achieve such effect, leaders in the organisation play a vital role. Leader’s ability to drive consistent messaging, create platforms and forums to incubate innovation augmented with HR practices will create the multiplier effect to continuously innovate.

[Based on PGPX Class discussion with Krish Shankar; Contributed by Rohit Nargunde]

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