Forging Innovation at Your Business - TAB Corporate

Forging Innovation at Your Business

Brainstorming And Teamwork Concept
Everyone wants innovators in their business, but finding employees who are willing to innovate is a very challenging task. As we discussed my last blog post, the most innovative workers might have a non-traditional background for the position you’re staffing.

If you are seeking an innovator, what qualities do you look for?

Tony Wagner attempts to uncover the most important innovative attributes in Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World. Tony previously authored The Global Achievement Gap, a book about schools not teaching kids what they need to know to thrive in a global, knowledge-based economy.

In Creating Innovators, Wagner identifies three skills which are critical for innovation: Expertise, Creativity & Passion. 

Expertise is often taken for granted. All of your employees know their functional areas backwards and forwards. Or do they? How do you know? Especially for areas outside of your expertise, how do you assess that candidates for new positions have sufficient expertise not only to do their job but to innovate the position? I suggest using a combination of peer interviews by existing employees that have sufficient expertise, and industry assessments to uncover a candidate’s expertise.

Creativity is the toughest of the three to measure. Wagner emphasizes that multi-disciplinary expertise – or exposure – is critical here. Having a software designer who is also an artist would help to design functional, yet highly aesthetic programs. Assessing a candidates background, and interests in areas outside of their functional responsibility will uncover whether a potential hire has the broad perspective to look at challenges creatively.

Regarding passion, you’ll know it when you see it. Employees working on the weekend without being asked – or pro-actively solving challenging problems are signs of passion. 

But, hiring passionate employees is a different matter. Everyone puts on their most passionate face for a job interview. How do you know it will carry through to the job?

A reference check can really come in handy when you’re investigating passion. Most references will say the candidate did a good job, and they liked them. As you ask questions on their working style, commitment to job and scenarios where they went “above and beyond” you will start to develop an assessment of their passion.  

Hired an innovative employee? Tell us how you nabbed them – and how you foster their creativity – in the comments section!
You are your own brand. The wider your knowledge base, the more attractive you are to potential employers/business partners.


1 Comment

  1. Arshad says:

    Somebody said the whole purpose of business in such profound words “Business is about innovation and marketing”, means your business has only two functions, innovation and marketing, it makes sense, in present day, with even successful imitation you can’t last for long, so you need to innovate, either in bits or in the next “Big Thing” way.

    I mean after all its the innovation that Apple Inc jumped from a 2 billion dollar company in 1997 to more than 600 bn in 2007, thanks to its iphone, ipod, ipad, likewise Tesla automobiles that has sold around 50000 units only and is value around 17 billion dollars compared to market giant GM that is valued around 52 bn.

    I agree with the point that for innovation you need to hire innovative brains, who knows what they are doing and know how to do it effectively (expertise, creativity) but I will give another source from where even with “not so” innovative guys a business can achieve some real innovation, I mean getting the innovative guys costs, so its not a good option for small companies right ?

    Now to have innovation, I believe small companies need to develop relationship with academics/universities, because they are the people, that is the place where they are trying new concepts, new ideas, I believe each university can give you dozen new product/service ideas.

    but again innovation is not about making something but “innovation is about picking up right idea (entrepreneurial behavior) and then transforming that idea into a new business (product/service) that provides value to the target market and delivers revenue to the other party”.

    And that’s where creativity comes in “transforming that idea”, no wonder that’s why Creativity and Innovation are crucial for the success of any organization. (1)

    Now if you can’t afford to hire the big gurus, find nothing in the universities, don’t worry there is still another way, and that way would definitely work for you, it is called open innovation, well here is a good post on that read Customers & Open Innovation Model .


    1. Dougherty, D. (2006) Organizing for innovation in the 21st century. In Clegg, S., Hardy, C., Lawrence, T. and Nord, W.R. (eds.), The Sage Handbook of Organization Studies. Sage Publications, London, pp. 598–617.

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