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Training executives in innovation


Open Innovation commentator Stefan Lindegaard looks at who in an organisation should be trained in innovation. He recommends training a wide range of levels and functions, but most important are the executives, those at the top – who are “the only ones that can really make or break innovation in any organisation so it is important that they know what they are doing.”

However, there are various barriers to training executives, who might see themselves as at the top of their game already, think they’re too busy, don’t listen to employees nor consultants and are too focused on the short-term perspective.

Added to this, it’s no wonder people don’t make more time to learn, argues Gianpiero Petriglieri in a brilliant piece for HBR – learning is the most celebrated neglected activity in the workplace. “Everyone says that learning is essential for companies’ success—and for your own. And yet, on a daily basis, who cares for your learning? No one. People care about what you have learned. They care about your results. Learning is great as long as you do it quietly, in your own time.”

We need to fight this pressure. As Jane Hart says: “Today’s workplace needs employees to continually learn for themselves and stay abreast of developments in their field of work – not just through self-study but through a continuous approach to learning, e.g. in their professional networks and other social channels. Organisations need fresh thinking and fresh ideas, to ensure they continue to grow – so everyone needs to feed into their teams what they are discovering.”

Lindegaard offers some useful practical approaches to overcome these barriers in his post. One of his most interesting observations is on who busy executives with healthy egos listen to – their own peers. “The challenge for corporate innovation leaders and the HR people is to create the right forum and format in which your executives can be exposed to other executives having the kind of mindset that you would like to see in your own organisation.”

Photo credit: Krissy Venosdale

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