Innovation is what drives any organization. It is what takes it to the next level. It is how even the best employees can use their skills to their fullest potential. Great, collaborative innovation can take your organization from being an industry player to being an industry leader. The 2019 Learning and Development Report compiled by findcourses.com explains why. Experimentation and team-led idea-sharing can be built into your organization’s L&D (Learning and Development) strategy. In short: you can use training to encourage innovation. Here’s how.
Every organization knows the importance of having a great L&D strategy that emphasizes both hard and soft skills, like leadership and communication. But take a moment to think about yours. Does your L&D strategy actively encourage team members to educate one another? Does it encourage active thinking and participation by trainees? Is there regular training to ensure ongoing, innovative professional development? If the answer to any of these questions is no, then there is scope for more innovation.
The key to building an innovative L&D strategy is to remove the fear of failure. If employees can pitch their ideas, and perhaps even take some exploratory steps if there appears to be potential in them, then that only serves to help your organization. Think of it this way: Apple is the market leader in the world of smart gadgets. Yet they rarely launch any new products. They update, remodel and reinvent what they already have. Apple is able to do this as it actively encourages its employees to think outside the box and to try something new.
While your organization may not be a global leader like Apple, there is still much to be gleaned from this. This is backed up by the 2019 L&D Report. Creating a safe space for innovation means that the very best skills, potentially even hidden skills, that your team has to offer can come to the fore.
Training can bring this out of your employees as well. The more innovative, interactive and collaborative the training, the more your employees will feel comfortable bouncing ideas and strategies off one another. L&D is key to professional development. Professional development is key to building an innovative team. But how do you keep your L&D strategy focused yet flexible and agile enough to create that safe space for innovation?
A great L&D strategy needs to have clear focus and direction. It needs to be able to take your team in a clear direction and build a useful, relevant set of skills in them. The trick is to look at areas in which your team wants to improve and see where that complements your organization’s areas of potential growth.
Doing this requires continual communication with your team. Surveys and asking for feedback during appraisals is a great way to do this. It takes time to build up a picture of where your team needs and wants to improve. Once you have this information, you can place that against your organization’s goals and objectives. But do keep in mind that needs and wants can change over time. The key to a truly flexible L&D strategy that encourages innovation is one that can be altered at short notice and, like your organization, change with the times.
Innovation should be at the heart of any organization. Safe spaces without fear of failure help to build and foster a company culture that encourages innovation. Innovation can also be built into your L&D strategy. An innovative L&D strategy is one that embraces your team’s strengths but also combines that with your overall organizational goals. A brilliantly innovative L&D strategy is one that manages to do all of that, but also leaves itself open to quick adaptation, should it be called for. Remember, an L&D strategy that nurtures innovation is one that can take your company from being an industry player to being an industry leader.
The WorkFlow podcast is hosted by Steve Glaveski with a mission to help you unlock your potential to do more great work in far less time, whether you're working as part of a team or flying solo, and to set you up for a richer life.
To help you avoid stepping into these all too common pitfalls, we’ve reflected on our five years as an organization working on corporate innovation programs across the globe, and have prepared 100 DOs and DON’Ts.