Friday, September 30, 2011


Is your HR department an impediment to Enterprise Innovation?

We all know that the likes of Google and Apple are innovative organizations that the rest of the world aspires to be like. For some strange reason the conversation around innovation always heads towards better processes/methdologies while ignoring an even bigger gap. Let's face it, these companies were organized around the notion of creativity and have been built to foster and encourage diversity, not to instill homogeneity...

While the HR department is spending their energies worrying about what people wear on casual Friday's, the innovators amongst us have figured out how to set the expectation that creative types are expected to look and dress differently. If corporate policy forces clothing choices that do not mesh with a person’s personality, then the first thing that an employee does when they get home is change clothes. As they change their clothes, they change their mentality—and the types of ideas they generate. Corporate dress codes put employees into a box, and a person can’t be expected to think outside that box if they are walking around all day in one. Innovative companies need to provide employees with the freedom to be who they want to be—and think how they’re apt to think—all day long.

Have you ever met an employee of Apple outside of core working hours? Ever notice how they manage to blend their personal and work lives so that they may generate breakthrough ideas at any time from any place. Truly innovative employees will be those who are exactly the same at home as they are at work. Do we really need to add innovation methodologies and hire consultants at high rates to our already overwhelming pile of processes or do we need to instead focus on removing process and anything that is an impediment to creative thinking?

There is no single approach to unlocking creative thinking! Facts suggest that innovation is more likely to happen in environments where personal constraints are minimized and employees are empowered to voice any wild idea they might have. Design firms have been doing this almost unintentionally for decades, and now the business world is waking up to the merits of free‚ creative cultures. Innovation only emulsifies when individual voices are empowered by open policies.

If 21st-century managers want to succeed, then it’s time to do away with the dress codes and time sheets that are the relics of an efficiency-driven era. It’s time to unlock the power of individuals, let people be creative and embrace individual personalities within the mass of an organization. Innovative employees are hired as individuals and they should be free to be unique. HR should champion real genuine diversity and not be an impediment to it...

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