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Is There a Secret Sauce for Developing Innovators?
Employee-centric career development can contribute to innovation. Conversations with global executives from multiple industries confirmed that this issue is top of mind. The question is - is there a secret sauce for developing innovators?
For me, the draw of UpMo has always been about unleashing human potential and then connecting it to company opportunity. When I took a step back and thought about that, it struck me as obvious that this focus on accessing and channeling human potential also has the power to impact another critical intangible—innovation. For one thing, when people focus on clarifying and developing their strengths and aspirations, and actively seek a fulfilling way to channel them, it seems that innovation is almost inevitable.
I started thinking about how employee-centric career development contributes to innovation in preparation for an executive session on innovation that I attended last week. After sharing several exceptional conversations at the event with global executives from multiple industries, who all confirmed that this issue is top of mind, I became enthralled with the question—is there a secret sauce for developing innovators?
I’m certain that the secret sauce has multiple flavors, but it has to start by helping people point themselves in the right direction. At the risk of getting too abstract here, I think this requires developing the awareness and capacity to discover your strengths and express your aspirations, followed by conscious steps to acquire the knowledge and experience that enable you to bring your potential to life.
Core starting ingredients from my perspective would include:
Get to know thyself + pay attention to what’s going on in the world that matters to you + embrace the power of micro action to impact macro outcomes + take a step toward change that inspires you
As someone who is actively exploring my innovation potential, I credit the GreenMBA at Dominican University of CA (http://www.greenmba.com) and two amazing professors, Jane Lorand and Julianne Maurseth for inspiring the above perspective. Using that formula gives you a frame and will help shape a path. From there, I think you just have to take that first step! The step you choose can be whatever feels right to you at that moment—taking on a new project, a class, a new job, reading a book, or connecting with people who can help you build your capacity and experience. Moving through the first few steps will start bringing the path to life. It may never feel concrete, as I think pushing into your full potential is likely to re-introduce uncertainty along the way. The road to this kind of fulfillment is rarely linear, and, at least in my experience, almost never predictable—
In thinking about how systems and companies can help enable this process, I really believe that UpMo is an important piece of the puzzle. By helping people explore options, hone their aspirations and match them to both company opportunity and the people who can help them move forward, I believe people will find paths to more fulfilling careers as well as innovation opportunities at their current companies. Most people need help figuring out what they want to do and how to find opportunities. This is especially important for people striving to fulfill their potential and be true innovators.
It’s not easy to make intangibles like this tangible in organizations, but there are several great new tools and companies, including UpMo, focused on different aspects of employee-empowerment and developing healthy culture that are becoming more mainstream. It’s exciting to be a part of the shift.
I’ve focused here on individual development. Clearly, the organizational culture people work in is another critical component of innovation. I’ll talk more about that in the future. If you'd like, you can visit my corresponding blog entry at http://www.upmo.com/
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Employees Rule. UpMo provides the industry’s first employee-centric enterprise career management solution to emerging and large organizations. By helping people plan, pursue and manage their careers in a way that benefits both them and their companies, UpMo SaaS solutions help companies embrace employee mobility to dramatically increase productivity, reduce employee churn, and improve employee engagement. http://www.upmo.com