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When launching a corporate innovation strategy, it seems logical to think that an organization should place its employees in a preferential position, although there is also a wealth of talent to be added to the organization through external collaborators.

This intention, however, is at odds with the fact that 60% of corporate management believes their teams are hampered by a culture gap and lack of innovation-related skills. This figure, supplied in General Electric’s latest annual Innovation Barometer, picks up on one of the main concerns shared by many large companies and, particularly, by their Human Resources departments.

Innovation and talent are two differential pillars that create a competitive advantage for companies, making corporate innovation programs with employees a growing need for many organizations, given the impact innovation has on their results accounts and corporate culture.

In this respect, technology and its participation channels facilitate the inclusion of employees in innovation–24/7–and exponentially increase the speed at which innovative ideas are conceived and detected.

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Keys, myths and uncertainties when launching a corporate innovation program.

Employees at the forefront: innovation in community

Opening innovation to participation from employees grants organizations various competitive advantages.

The most obvious is gaining muscle and power to innovate. By increasing the number of people involved, the generation of possible solutions to corporate challenges is also increased.

Besides, diversity among participants also promotes cross-fertilization of disruptive ideas and points of view: there is more and better use of internal talent and better detection of previously hidden profiles, who were not allowed to participate before.

Likewise, corporate innovation programs (CIP) with employees are also a source of wealth for the organization in terms of cultural change and work environment. Thanks to their degree of openness, they promote collaboration between employees and increase their engagement, making an organization’s transformation collective and inclusive (the chart shows differences between traditional–closed–innovation and open innovation with employees).

That said,
How can the right talent management contribute to the success of a corporate innovation program?
How can this, in turn, feed back into the organization’s talent?

Let us discuss several points:

1. New paradigms and improvement areas

An innovation program that is supported by technological tools like our ideas communities, helps to consolidate the use of co-creative work models among employees, and to develop digital skills. In short, it favors a new way of doing things around talent management.

2. Towards a model of trust of listening

It also helps to promote a corporate culture of participation and listening as opposed to closed innovation, limited to top management or specific individuals.

Also, it brings to the table values like transparency and trust. Employees can share and co-create ideas with their peers, without hierarchies or functional areas.

3. More commitment, leadership and intrapreneurship

Listening allows organizations to reinforce employee engagement, placing value on their ideas, and even strengthening their autonomy to develop those ideas (intrapreneurship), individually or within work groups.

4. Detect talent and give it visibility

In line with the previous point, a program of this type not only carries out scouting work for the organization, finding solutions for its strategic challenges, it also identifies the individuals who can lead its transformation.

Employee participation without reservation allows the organization to detect hidden talent and make qualities like creativity, disruptive thinking or leadership visible.

** Explore the keys to placing people at the forefront of innovation, in our free eBook covering corporate innovation programs.

Some examples of active listening to internal talent

Besides innovation, active listening plays an important role in an organization’s cultural transformation and corporate engagement. José Luis Risco, HR Director at EY España, recalls how his corporation used an internal innovation community to listen to employees and “plot a journey using employee needs”, with the aim of satisfying them. In this respect, Boston Consulting Group highlights how active listening impacts especially on collectives like Millennials, who demand “working on diverse projects, playing an active part in achieving the company’s objectives, and seek public acknowledgement for their achievements within the organization“.

Banco Sabadell is another organization committed to active listening and the implication of its employees in the bank’s corporate innovation program. To do so, it uses its internal community BS idea, which allows the bank to share ideas and “work with values like co-creation and transparency“, as highlighted by Rubén Hernández, in charge of the project until 2019. This community also helps the bank to detect talent and get to know its employees based on their professional activity and achievements. 

**** Access General Electric’s talent survey here.

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