HR must add strategic value via innovation

Increasingly, businesses are recognising HR’s role as a value adder and
growth generator, rather than simply as an internal business function.

This is great news because it further aligns HR strategy to bottom-line
business performance. This is particularly relevant to UK plc, which has a
global reputation for standing back and watching the brain drain of bright
ideas to other cultures and countries, so losing an estimated £10bn in revenue
each year.

Too many organisations, particularly larger businesses, do not operate in a
way that is conducive to harnessing intellectual capital. Employees can become
an under utilised asset. Day-to-day workplace politics can become barriers to
enabling employees to generate and grow innovative ideas.

HR can make a real difference in helping to right these wrongs. It can
directly impact on the bottom line by working to change behaviours to promote
an innovation culture. This is not just about developing suggestion boxes
gathering ideas that will never be acted upon. It is about establishing an
environment that cultivates and develops workable ideas.

Within Deloitte, we have been working towards creating such a culture. To
ensure that our people’s creativity is managed effectively, an internet-based
software tool, called the Innovation Zone, was developed. It allows our 120,000
employees across the world to submit business ideas for evaluation and
implementation. To date, 11 new businesses have been created that contribute
significantly to our growth and global business revenue.

A further 12 ideas, with a projected yield of $350m (£209m) a year, are
under development via a dedicated unit of specialist analysts, who sift ideas,
conduct interview panels, construct business plans, allocate resources and
recommend funding. Successful businesses generated range from a sports
memorabilia authentication registry to a corporate fraud hotline.

Creating a truly innovative environment requires significant change
throughout the business, and the onus is on the HR director to lead this
process. An organisation can only truly utilise its human capital in an
innovative manner within a culture that encourages sharing and, more
importantly, leads to ideas being developed and implemented.

Innovation must be seen as a business imperative and HR must work with the
rest of the business to inspire, challenge and reward employees who can break
the mould and facilitate entry into new marketplaces. By taking ownership of
developing such a culture, the HR director has a real opportunity to
demonstrate the strategic value of HR and to make a significant difference to
the bottom line.

By John Connolly, CEO, Deloitte & Touche

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