Four Skills for Fostering a Culture of Innovation | HR Technologist

While organizations recognize the importance of fostering innovation, few understand how to take the first step.  There are four key skills for organizational innovation and we’ll uncover how your business can help employees develop them.

In today’s business environment, leaders are defining innovation as profoundly disruptive – the next big thing. However, not all innovation sparks from a significant transformation or a ground-breaking discovery. In fact, organizations who wait for a grand innovation may find themselves a step behind while competitors rise to the top.

As such, organizations need to make innovation part of the fabric of their organizational culture. With the right skills and capabilities, innovation can be driven from anywhere and by anyone within an organization. An innovation mindset inspires new thinking and supports ideas that are engaging and empowering – from the top down or the bottom up. HR has a role to play in developing a culture that recognizes and encourages innovation, so it has room to flourish. Let’s explore four key skills HR can help employees develop to drive innovation.

It’s critical that employees have the opportunity to explore their curiosity and uncover new ideas that surprise and impassion them. Many organizations perceive curiosity as a detour around efficiency. However, curiosity allows employees to evaluate ideas that interest them, which may lead to new opportunities for the organization. It is important to allow time for this exploration, without fear of being penalized. Employees may uncover ways to tackle tasks more efficiently, deliver improved services to customers, or even streamline inconsistencies in workflow. All of these solutions have the potential to snowball into an innovation.  

Creative ideas build the foundation for innovation. Everyone has creative capacities that can be developed, so yes, creativity can be taught. Creativity exudes from employees when they are prompted to turn something they are curious about into an actual idea worth pursuing. HR should work with leaders to help spark creativity among employees by letting them take new approaches to ideas. Incorporating tactile measures like sketching or even building a model of their idea, experimenting with role-playing, and collaborating with different teams can help ideas grow. It’s important to remember that creativity does not always come from conscious thought; it may be necessary to allow time for ideas to evolve while employees switch tasks or even procrastinate productively.


Leaders should encourage risk-taking on the strongest ideas and tolerate exploration within reason. By driving out the fear of failure, risk-taking sparks new ideas when employees aren’t worried about the ramifications of hitting a dead end. When employees develop risk-taking skills, it helps organizations stay ahead of the competition, and if the risk pays off, may lead to compelling innovation in the process. When taking risks doesn’t work out, it becomes an opportunity to learn what didn’t work and try again.

Executing on innovation requires diverse talent, skill sets and ideation. Employees cannot work in a vacuum to drive organizational innovation. Instead, they must collaborate with a team – more importantly, a diverse team – who can bring unique perspectives as well as uncover any gaps and easily fill them. Collaboration is an effective tool for innovation as employees can pool their collective knowledge to execute on ideas.

Now more than ever, innovation matters. Fueling a culture of innovation starts with HR providing the right access to training and development tools that build an innovation mindset at all levels of the organization. With the right skills and capabilities, organizations can capitalize on the many new ideas coming from across the business, rather than rely on the big ideas from a select few.