Without innovation, organisations die
For companies to succeed, they need to see innovation, not as something special that only special people can do, but as something that can become routine and methodological; taking advantage of the capabilities of every employee.
This was a conclusion made by HR professionals in Nigeria at the 3rd edition of the Jobberman HR Breakfast, where they expressed grave concerns over the need for innovation as it impacts on topical workplace issues.
At the event, a cross section of HR professionals and speakers highlighted several issues around the theme of the Jobberman HR Breakfast; ‘Building, Leading and Sustaining Innovative Organisations: The African Perspective, Experiences and Stories.’
Proffering solutions to several issues raised, the consensus hinged on the need to cultivate innovation for the HR function.
Some of the key challenges raised around building and sustaining innovation include:
- How do we cultivate trust and an enabling environment?
- How do we attract and retain the best candidates?
- How do we discover more opportunities and solve problems in order to engender growth?
- How do we achieve innovation within organisations with as many as 10,000 staff members?
- How do we adapt to evolving learning strategies?
Juliet Oshagbemi, Group Talent Acquisition Lead, Dangote Industries
On the issue of discovering talent, Oshagbemi, a keynote speaker at the event, challenged HR professionals to embrace professional training to stay relevant in their respective fields, as well as see every challenge and problem as an opportunity to be explored.
In her paper titled: ‘Cultivating Innovation: Innovation for Competitive Advantage,’ Oshagbemi cited several examples to drive her message home of how crucial the HR department is in any organisation with its sights on growth and enjoying competitive advantage.
On the need to cultivate innovation for the HR function, some of the key areas Oshagbemi believes HR professionals need to look into include:
- The need to find ways to retain the best hands and skilled employees
- The need to emphasize on training and development of staff members
- Developing a robust succession plan around talent management
- The need for career coaching especially for the Y generation
- Ensuring skilled hands see where the company is taking them in their careers
On the last point mentioned, Oshagbemi pointed out that this was crucial else such talents could be frustrated into leaving the organisation within one year.
Citing the example of Uber, she drew emphasis to the fact that the company is currently worth $17 billion.
Professionals across several industries agreed with her when she said what Uber did was that it saw an opportunity and tackled it.
Reference was also made to Forbes’ list of 10 Most Innovative Companies in Africa in 2016.
On this list, special attention was given to Nando’s, MTN, Iroko TV, Safaricom, Pick n Pay, Woolworths, Econet and Nation Media Group for their ability to build and sustain innovation.
While it was agreed that innovation can mean different things in different situations, it is clearly not invention or creativity.
Innovation was rather described as, people using new knowledge and understanding to experiment with new possibilities in order to implement new concepts that create value.
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Lampe Omoyele, the Managing Director, The Lucent Consulting Company
The wheels of expectation continued to grind hard when Omoyele, also a keynote speaker at the event, took to the stage to deliver his paper titled, ‘Culture-Based Strategies for Creating and Sustaining Innovation.’
In his presentation, he identified HR practitioners as major drivers of culture change and put innovation down to three meanings.
Innovation, according to Omoyele is the transformation of an idea into something useful.
He also added that it is the practice of putting ideas into practice to deliver new tangible things or new ways of doing things.
Rounding off his interpretation of innovation, he described it as a mixture of insight and creativity, rooted in experimentation and a constant state of evolution. Like imagination itself, it is always in motion and never static, never the same.
One of the most interesting moments for Omoyele at the event was when he spoke about what he described as ‘idea-killing phrases.’
He outlined them to include:
- “Yes, but…”
- “We’ve tried it before…”
- “That won’t work because….”
- “We don’t have time for this right now…”
- “Please do a cost benefit analysis and then we’ll talk about it…”
- “That’s fine in theory, but it doesn’t work like that…..”
- “Put it down on paper….”
His emphasis lay on his submission that the use of these ‘idea-killing phrases’ stifle the birth of innovation and ideas.
Faith Ojeiku, Product Manager, One Finance
In her presentation on the topic: ‘Financial Support, a New Way to Show You Care,’ Ojeiku emphasised on how innovation within an organisation starts and ends with people.
One thing that was pointed out was the fact that building a leading and sustainable innovative organisation rests heavily on personnel loyalty and management through motivation, incentive and promotion.
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Gbenga Totoyi, the Associate Partner, Organisational Development, Jobberman Consulting
Also speaking at the event was Gbenga Totoyi who shed light on Learning and Organisational Development Solutions.
His presentation was in the form of a 6-minute video titled: ‘The Future of Work.’
In the video, Totoyi drew attention to the fact that 10 years ago, there were no social networks and that 10 years before that, the web did not exist.
The video explained that if you work in the web programming, online marketing or mobile phone industry, your job did not exist 20 years ago.
There was mention of the projection that people out of work today will find jobs again but that the work would not be what it currently is. The led to the question: ‘What is the Future of Work?’
The future of work was projected to be transparent. Totoyi added that in the past, productivity was difficult (if not impossible) to measure; with businesses wasting millions every year paying for employee downtime.
Time appears to have changed so much and with time and task tracking tools are revolutionising productivity-measurement.
The future of work was said to be flat; no one complaining about their commute.
Totoyi pointed out that work used to be considered a place with the only option of communication being landline phones or snail mail.
He added that today, project teams use amazing web tools to work together from anywhere in the world.
At the end of the presentation, Totoyi re-emphasised his firm belief that the future of work lies in the people who work with it.
The event progressed into several ‘questions and answers’ sessions as well as a tea break, which saw participants networking and sharing ideas.
Femi Odukoya, the Executive Director, Business Development, Crusader Sterling Pensions Ltd
Femi Odukoya, the Executive Director, Business Development, Crusader Sterling Pensions Ltd was represented at the event by Anthony Omerhi who took the reins in a session dedicated to his presentation titled ‘Nigeria Pension Industry Viewpoint on Building and Sustaining Innovative organisations.’
Surprisingly, Odukoya’s session gave rise to several questions focusing on the Nigerian pension space. One of such questions was ‘how do HR practitioners maintain best practices within Nigeria’s pension space?’
Dr. Uganze Eke of Fitness Fair
The final presentation was anchored by Dr. Uganze Eke as she delivered a paper titled ‘How Innovative Corporate Wellness & Interventions Will Impact Productivity at Work.’
She highlighted a number of facts that delved into how wellness transcends beyond mere physical outlook.
She reminded HR professionals that employees remain an organisation’s best asset, adding that only a healthy person can function optimally.
Companies were advised to bring preventive health programmes to their offices. She explained that employees are humans and there is a limit to how much the body can be stretched.
In all, HR practitioners were tasked to understand not just the business but the people who build the business, as well as the need to cultivate innovation within organisations.