These are the infamous words of U.S. agricultural economist, Theodore William Schultz, who won (with British economist Sir Arthur Lewis) the 1979 Nobel Prize for Economics for his influential work on the role of human capital, including education, talent and energy, for growth.

As a human resources leader and practitioner, I appreciate the role of human capital for the success of the organization, and the critical role for executives to create a shared vision and strategies, and the operating mechanism to align and motivate their workforces. I have worked with many business division Presidents of large United States corporations and joined them in serious efforts to successfully execute strategies to profitably grow their businesses. As Theodore William Schultz said if you don’t grow you die. I would add to that, “If you don’t innovate, you die.” For those of you who prefer to grow by acquisition, the research shows that 45% to 70% of acquisitions fail to reach their financial and business goals—and they are expensive!

Despite the belief of some, innovation generally doesn’t happen by divine inspiration or the brilliant idea that occurs to an engineer while taking a shower. It requires more than inspiring office buildings, collaborative workspaces and free expresso. Innovation requires a vision, strategy, and methodology to unleash the passions in employees, generate their ideation and an alignment of resources to the best ideas.

I found such a methodology on the open prairie in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan with InnovationOne.

Recently at Innovation Place, Dr. Brooke Dobni and Dr. Mark Klassen were conducting a public workshop on innovation to a mix of private business people from different industries and government agency leaders.

Brooke began the workshop by telling his audience that innovation is about value creation, which in turn, leads to sustainable profitable growth. He cites his own research which shows that the top 25% of companies (as measured by top line financial performance) has innovation scores that range up to 22% higher than bottom quartile performers; and research from Booz and Company which shows that organizations which focus on innovation capabilities report higher profit margins by up to 22%.

Many CEOs and division presidents can define the business opportunity, quantify the market opportunity and articulate their product or service strategy. Unfortunately, few of them align their innovation initiatives with business strategy, or when then do, seldom do they have a methodology for enabling employees to ideate, and align resources to the best ideas. InnovationOne provides companies a measure and benchmark for their culture of innovation, based on a scientifically designed employee survey, and a scientifically based recommended path forward for sustained innovation and growth.

Brooke and Mark have conducted innovation research for over 15 years, surveying and speaking with CEOs and using factor analysis to identify the 12 drivers of innovation, which are grouped into four categories:

1. Leadership, which includes innovation intent, strategy and executives connecting with employees

2. Resources, which includes employee skills, organizational learning, and aligned technical and financial resources

3. Knowledge Management, which includes customer interaction and employee ideation

4. Process, which includes employee empowerment and alignment

Next, they created an innovation assessment instrument and benchmarked it against 2,000 organizations, including a survey of the Fortune 1000 companies. Backed by this research, they have a powerful tool to assess any organization’s innovation orientation, its strengths and areas for development and, most importantly, to provide each organization recommendations on how to improve its culture of innovation for sustainable, profitable growth. At the end of this very interactive seminar at Innovation Place, each participant left with a blueprint on how their organization could improve its culture of innovation.

There are many excellent theorists and champions of innovation, who eloquently articulate the need for innovation strategy and a methodology. What distinguishes InnovationOne from the others is they have a thoroughly researched, scientific assessment which can benchmark your organization’s innovation orientation and provide you with a measurable methodology and a recommended path forward to grow. After all, in today’s competitive, fast paced, digital and global economy, “If you don’t grow, you die!”

Victor Assad is a strategic human resources consultant and coach based in San Mateo, California who works with key decision makers and human resources leaders on talent management, accelerating change, leadership development, team effectiveness, flexible workplace, mergers and acquisitions, and other strategic initiatives. 


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