What strategies and tactics can HR use to encourage innovation? How can you structure your company to encourage better collaboration?  How do you create a culture where curiosity, playfulness a sense of forgiveness are given a chance in the context of a general direction? How do you ensure that your enterprise learns? These are some of the questions I explore in a new book for Bloomsbury entitled "Leading Innovation, Creativity and Enterprise".

In this article we look at the kinds of HR practices that best fit a climate where innovation is part of everyday behaviour:


Amidst the mix of people you need to make the enterprise work like a well oiled machine, HR needs to hire mavericks to import creative tension into the enterprise. Such people don't always fit the usual criteria for selection. Just think how Richard Branson or Steve Jobs would have fared at an assessment centre these days! If your talent attraction process looks for the usual suspects, chances are you will get just what you expect. Innovators are not always effusive extroverts so beware the usual expectations of 'stand and deliver' type presentations etc.

Another key part of attraction is getting induction right. Since innovation is largely about horizontal collaboration rather than hierarchy, indiction needs to be rethought around developing networks more than just doing the statutory stuff.


The bottom end of Maslow's hierarchy of needs is not where most of your innovators reside assuming they have enough money to survive and so on. They are more driven by what Dan Pink calls a union of passion and purpose and that gives the clue as to how you keep them there, fully committed and giving their best. Offer them jobs that make good use of their skills and which align with their higher purpose. Give them space to be themselves but this does not mean just leaving them to get on with whatever they want to do. Strong leadership is needed to manage creative people.

Leading Innovation, Creativity and Enterprise looks at a series of case studies from Virgin to W.L. Gore, FujiFilm, Nokia, Pfizer, Johnson and Johnson, Innocent et al to explore ways in which HR may become more influential. You may order the book at Amazon or join us at Virgin in London on Friday 26 February for a preview.

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