[Talents that drive innovation

A blog for you who wishes to understand what kind of synergy occurs when you are thinking of innovation through the talents.

By Per Bergfors

Per has 20 years of experience within management, sales and marketing in companies. I also work as Assistant Professor at CBS, and therefore have solid experience as educator and communicator.


Innovation through development of talents.

How can you as a leader create growth and innovation through employees. Innovation within sustainability, green economy, productivity, new materials or what problem you are facing, then you will be able to use the 5 areas that we recommend.

7 min. reading time

What is innovation?

Innovation is new ideas, that are converted to practice and create value for the company’s customers and employees. Innovation can for the sake of ease be seperated into 4 categories; product, process, marketing or organizational innovation. Leaders and business accountable people search for growth, and a desirable measure in the process is to create growth through innovation within inclusion, diversity and development. The same 3 aspects also have an affect on the motivation and the behvaiour that is needed to drive innovation – Yes drive, that is a development process.

Innovation through development of talents

Colin Price is a global manager for innonvation and development at McKinsey in London. In 2018 he described in his book “Accelerating Performance”, a model that changed how organizations create sustainable innovation and growth. The thing that the model describes is how you by looking at the resources you have, can think of mobilization, execution, transformation and agility. The model is described with the letters META. The reason for this model being so important is that it combines the practical with the data driven, and has a focus on movement and learning in the process. It is also a reaction towards the overdriven focus on performance and KPI’s given that the test kills innovation.

The META model puts innovation behaviour into action.

META stands for Mobilizing, Executing, Transofrming and showing Agility. The models 4 headers describe the areas that the companies need to have a focus on when creating innovation. Let’s dive deeper into the different headlines and put thought patterns from the talents into action at the same time.

Mobilization is expressed through the individual employees ability to convert what you already have and can do into plans and actions that support the strategy. Handling of customer focus, a pronounced outwards- and in perspective, helps with understanding the customers value perception. Knowledge about customers and employees that can’t be used, use of technology and processes that we know, but in a new connection. We rethink the bicycles role in distribution in bigger cities, use of hybrid workplaces, use of digital communication and the like. The talents innovative, future-oriented and coordinating are examples of strong talents to create movement.

Execution is to remove top steering, pseudo work and making space for the individual to do things as simple as possible. Focus on developing everyones talents in their own right. The individuals knowledge about own abilities and ways to make decisions creates action. This insight also brings autonomous decision patterns. The talents future-oriented, innovative and targeted in combination is an example of a person that finds it easy to execute and lead tasks.

Transforming is the effect of giving space for experimenting and how learning happens through playing and trying one the way to a given end product. Maybe you don’t know the final product, but while you understand the customers problems you also create ideas. Talents that combine purposefulness, involving with flexibility feels at home here. As transformer, you focus on collaboration as opposed to competition. This counts in the organization as well as between external partners.

Agility is the ability to be agile in your attitude towards challenges, how you learn from your decisions. Talents such as flexible, coordinating and trouble-shooting have a natural relationship to agile behaviour within the framework that the strategy and resources offer.

From effectivity to innovation focus

TalentInsights help companies with replacing effectivity focus with an innovation focus. Where KPI’s and the like have a focus on optimizing and utilizing resources as much as possible, an innovative focus is about getting the same resources to create more value for the customers. A value focus as opposed to an effectivity focus.

In the same way that a person expressed through the talents give more movement than a person expressed through education or experience. It is an important point that the TalentIndicator test is designed as an ipsative test as opposed to a normative test. A normative test (for example innovation profiles) measures itself against a norm and an average, where as an ipsative test uncovers the talent that is present in the individual and thereby in the organization where the talent operates. We show the potential that is there, not if it is actually used. The experience at TalentInsights is that the innovation process becomes something different when we think of possible potential as opposed to averages and benchmarks.

The dynamic and energy in the innovation process can be understood through looking at the energy that is created when the talents interact. A person with top talents such as innovative, assessing and connecting could bring the assumption that you can show great creativity and innovation, and have an easy time operating in the idea generation phase. The reality is different, because the person will as soon as an idea occurs automatically “shoot it down” with the assessing talent. At the same time it means that with the connecting talent, the person will hold themselves back in the process. You will risk that the relations suffer under the discussion.

The thought patterns that you meet here are connected with the occurance of processes such as Design Thinking, IDEO, Double Diamond, Agile Scrum, Design Sprint, lean startup and entrepreneurial mindset. Get the idea, create the prototype, test it, learn and create the next iteration. This is the fundamental thought pattern.

Leadership of talent and competencies

If you look at the individual employee as an innovation resource, where the sum of the talents are evaluated from a synergy perspective, then the innovation is affected alot by the talent. If you create a room for learning and collaboration between the different talents and different professional knowledge, there is a constructive synergy free’d up that gives nourishment for innovation. We know that diversity and development in teams creates better innovation and more alternative solutions than missing diversity. New research shows the same effect with inclusion of differences.

To lead talents with a view on innovation is personal leadership where thought patterns, collaborative relations and place for learning is created at the same time. It is our experience that professional knowledge and competencies are put into play in dynamic ways when talents are put in the process.

If the context for innovation is a start-up that is searching for it’s MVP (minimum viable product), an established market leader, a public agency, a technology driven company, a global company – well then a given talent mass will of course deliver innovation depending on the context.

Innovation is the result of the talents working.

The context is created through leadership of the talents, the innovation occurs as a result of the ability to put talents into play.

The start-up company has limited resources, and that which is missing in salary, pensions and history can be replaced by the size of the accountability area, the entrepreneurial mindset and the possibility for ownership. At TalentInsights we often meet the term “bootstrapping”, that in reality means that you need to focus on getting more out of your resources, than they represent in themselves.

In this way, start-ups speak to both the heart and the brain in the talents. It doesn’t make sense to lock the talent in a specific task. The talent is hired exactly to dribble between relevant opportunities. The talents experience and knowledge is exactly an expression for how the person in relation to experience, can create the most.

In bigger organizations where the talent is asked to fit into a framework and play a role that fits in the strategic direction, many of the talents will experience limitations on creativity and the possibility to create something. You can say that the more a company knows where it wants to go, the more they are aware of how.. And the “how” approach is probably the one that pulls the energy out of an innovative talent.

The talk about purpose, opinion and idea becomes empty words. Speech to the brain dominates, and the heart fades away. The finished business machine runs as usual, and the talent is on it’s way out.

Five focus areas for driving innovation and talent development.

TalentInsights has identified 5 areas that needs focus when talents and innovation needs to be matched.

  1. Give the talent the working tools that are needed. Experience and use of tools to achieve something go hand in hand. Think along the lines of removing obstacles, not to create them.
  2. Trust in the talent. There is a reason that she got hired. Put her together with common opinions and other innovative forces. The talents ability to be explorative and dialogue searching, should not be limited by traditions.
  3. Put the talent close to the customers. Make it possible to create dialogue and collaboration outside of the company’s organizational framework. Knowledge from outside should not be transformed underway only to fit into a framework. The customers have the deciding input for relevant and business driven innovation, let the talent be the one to play with the ball and define the pitch.
  4. The talent wants to be used, not taken advantage of. Make room, direction and clearance so that the talent can expand itself, search sparring across the company, “play ball” with others. Ideas occur in processes between subject knowledge and personalities. Make room for both.
  5. Innovation is a leadership task. Minimum viable products do not occur by themselves. Leadership needs to be available and make it’s opinion known. It is a leadership task, not a steering task.

Please tell us about your sucesses and learning when you work with innovation and active use of your talent resources. We will happily share our knowledge and experience about development of entrepreneurial talents.

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