HR and Innovation from Expectra’s interview

At the end of last year, Expectra interviewed me to include my expert opinion about HR and innovation in their monthly debate. They asked the question “Innovation in the business: Do HR have to be involved?” And of course, I said “no”. Here’s the translation of the whole debate starting with Isaac Getz (professor at ESCP Europe) opinion that yes HR should be involved and finishing with mine:

[Transcript from Expectra’s blog] ———

While innovation is an essential factor in economic competitiveness, it can not be reduced to research and patents alone. In addition to the purely technical aspects, this broad concept must take place in all fields dear to the company: marketing, sales, management … In this context, does HR have a role to play in the adoption of innovation?

We asked two experts. 

Yes. The organization must be transformed.

by Isaac Getz

Isaac Getz, professor at ESCP Europe, specialist in innovation and leadership liberator and author of “Liberty & Co” and “Freedom, it works!”.

For Isaac Getz, innovation in the company has for too long been reduced to the center of R & D or strategic marketing. A terrible mess when one knows that according to studies, their contributions represent only 20% of the innovation potential of the company.

Innovation must not be the preserve of the elite, because the most innovative and creative projects often draw their inspiration from the field after having germinated in the minds of the employees ” explains Isaac Getz.

“If the role of the employee is to take an active part in the innovation process, it can not be done without a transformation of the mode of work organization that falls within the HR perimeter “

Consequently, while there is no organization within the company that gives the employee the freedom and responsibility to take the initiative and carry out his project, these 80% of innovations will never see the light of day.

Hence the essential role that human resources can play in transforming organizational practices that facilitate initiative and innovation. Of course, this task does not consist in the setting up of games such as ideas contests or obligations of results, both not very effective, but a radical transformation of the organization of work and its environment in order to be conducive to the development of innovative initiatives.

If the employee is to take an active part in innovation, it can not be done without a transformation of the way work is organized, a transformation to which HR can make a major contribution ” said Isaac Getz.

It is, therefore, essential that HR stimulate and lead, with all the company’s executives, a project of transforming organizational practices in order to allow each employee to be an actor of innovation through his initiatives.

A position that does not share Stéphanie Mitrano-Méda, for whom innovation does not enter the sphere of human resources skills.

NO. Corporate culture depends on management.

By Stéphanie Mitrano-Méda

Stéphanie Mitrano-Méda, specialist in executive coaching and mentoring of entrepreneurs and co-founder of the Merkapt agency [and subsequently Innovation Copilots], who co-leads innovation projects.

Indeed, for a company to be more innovative, it is essential to change the corporate culture. So it’s not the HR function.

“The culture of the company is thus often carried by the management and the managers who transmit the key messages” says Stéphanie Mitrano-Méda.

The culture of innovation requires quite a number of changes in terms of mindset and of being. A transformation that will also have consequences on managerial practices because innovating is also knowing how to take risks. Without the intervention of management, human resources alone will not be able to change the culture of the company.

Moreover, it should not be forgotten that when a company adopts an innovation, it will have to manage this change. Employees will be asked to work differently, on new products, with a renewed customer relationship … There will therefore, be an operational impact on their work. It will then be up to managers to help employees find meaning in this transformation.

In some cases, it is sometimes even necessary to use external consultants to accompany the company in this change of course.

“HR does not necessarily have the tools, the hindsight and the strategic vision necessary to accompany employees “

It should be noted that the HR function is still too rarely invited to take part in the strategic decisions of the company. As long as this situation has not changed, innovation will remain in the hands of the company’s leaders.

Author: Stéphanie

Specialist of Executive Coaching and Entrepreneurial Mentoring, insightful and open-minded, Stéphanie accompanies organisations in their cultural transformation to support innovation and business agility. She is one the few European expert both implementing and doing research on mentoring programmes.