How to speed up innovation: collaborate and separate.
As business leaders, we know innovation is important. We know that most of today’s companies won’t be around in a decade’s time – at least not in the same guise. Organisations need to evolve with new products and ways of delivering them, or they’ll be left behind.
The challenge for corporates and long-established organisations is how to make innovation happen quickly.
Organisations can get tunnel vision when their executive team has extensive corporate memory and experience. They can think that it’s their job to come up with the answers, and miss out on some really great ideas.
Or they might have good intentions but end up stifling new ideas that don’t fit neatly within business-as-usual, or constrain them by failing to give them enough resources, time and energy to action them quickly.
To overcome these challenges, organisations need to collaborate to generate an abundance of ideas from people both within and outside of the organisation.
And they need to separate the ideas from the day-to-day business, to run short, sharp pilots to see what works or fail fast and move on.
This is what Hudson has done in 2017. It’s been an exciting year in our innovation journey. While we have a history of innovative product development and a global R&D centre in Belgium, this year we have invested in several new initiatives that have shifted our innovation into a new gear.I’d like to share with you what we’ve learned from accelerating our capacity for innovation.
We made innovation a strategic priority
Before embarking on any innovation initiatives, it’s crucial to make innovation a key pillar of your three or five-year business plan.
By 2020, Hudson’s strategy is to see innovation underpinning our growth: developing new products, services or ways of doing business that will provide so much value to our clients and candidates that they become the main driver for our growth.
Setting that goal has forced us to take a critical look at our business and ask the question: ‘How are we going to get there?’
- We created a formal structure for submitting ideas
For Hudson, we know we need ideas from across our whole organisation to achieve our ambitious growth plans.
To do this, we have implemented a formal process for submitting ideas as well as a quarterly Innovation award, to ensure collaboration between our employees and our executive team.
I think executives would be surprised at the number of ideas that their own people have, if given the right opportunity.
Importantly, we separate the ideas from the day-to-day business by giving people the bandwidth to pilot their idea within a quarterly business cycle, and then decide whether to keep running with it, change tack or drop it.
- We partnered with a tech accelerator for start-ups and scale-ups
To meet our innovation goals, we also needed to ask ourselves the question: ‘Do we have the capabilities to achieve this?’
Organisations don’t have to do everything themselves, and we have seen some great opportunities to collaborate outside of Hudson to ramp-up our innovation.
Earlier this year, Hudson partnered with tech accelerator Slingshot to support HR Tech: a 12-week program for start-ups and scale-ups in the HR space.
As a Platinum Partner, Hudson engaged with the participants from Pitch Day through to Demo Day last month, to see first hand the latest innovations in the HR sector.
We also had the opportunity to put one of our own people through the program. We supported our Innovation Manager, Viren Thakrar, to move from Melbourne to Sydney with his young family for the duration of the program, giving him the time and space away from his day-to-day job to develop his business idea into a pilot that we will soon be launching.
I would highly recommend that other corporates consider partnering with a tech accelerator – but only if you’re willing to give it the necessary time and focus from people from across your organisation, from the top down.
- Seeking out third-party experts
Hudson has also sought partnerships with third-party experts with skillsets that aren’t core to our business, such as AI and big data, to pilot ideas and hypotheses.
This gives us the benefit of collaborating to generate new ideas that fit within our strategy, while outsourcing much of the work required to implement the pilots.
We believe the future of recruitment will be driven by data analytics. Machine learning will continue to improve algorithms that can find and match best-fit candidates to roles, based on criteria including employment history, personality characteristics, and the traits that high performers have in common.
This is an exciting space, and we continue to explore opportunities to partner with specialists as well as invest in our own data and analytics capabilities.
Through the above three initiatives, Hudson is collaborating both internally and externally to generate ideas, while separating them from the constraints of our day-to-day operations and mental frameworks so we can move fast.
Can we fundamentally change the client and candidate experience?
Can we transform the way clients discover talent, and candidates realise their career potential?
Can we disrupt the recruitment industry – and ourselves?
I’m looking forward to the way that Hudson and our partners solve these questions as we continue to speed up our innovation.