Headlines: April 29th, 2013

Innovation comes in all shapes and sizes, but some of the most popular learning and development interventions used in the workplace can actually thwart innovation. That’s according to the final report in a series of CIPD research insights on HR and its role in innovation, written in collaboration with researchers at the University of Bath.

The report  looks at how innovation happens, who is responsible for making it happen and where it happens. The latest report demonstrates how innovation is fostered by collaborative forms of learning and systematic approaches to knowledge sharing.

The researchers analysed more than 700 responses to the CIPD’s 2012 Learning and Talent Development (L&TD) survey and identified a range of  different profiles which describe an organisation’s approach to innovation. These include distributed innovators where innovation is pushed down through the organisation to project teams, with high employee involvement and managers encouraged to promote innovation. There are also open innovators where innovation is based on improving processes with product design and development, with high manager and employee involvement.

The least effective methods of learning and development  for innovation were found to be in-house development programmes, internal knowledge sharing events and internal coaching. This suggests that insularity and staying in your own territory are not conducive to innovation. Collaboration within, across and outside the organisation was found to be the best way to develop an innovative culture, with job rotation and shadowing cited as the most effective  practices.

Dr. John McGurk, learning and talent development research adviser at the CIPD, said: “Formal education courses may be slightly out of vogue as a learning and development intervention, but for an innovation focus they may be crucial. External conferences, workshops and events are also important as they allow employees to ‘bring the outside in’.

“We concluded that those organisations identified as ‘open innovators’ and ‘distributed innovators’ could be described as role models, as they are most likely to display most or all of the key behaviours that drive innovation. These include treating innovation as part of business as usual, harnessing employee involvement, adopting a systematic approach, and embedding internal and external collaboration and networking.”