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by Arabella GarveyHead of Solution Design 11th Dec 2019
One of the things that I love about working for Alexander Mann Solutions is the quality of individual that I work alongside. The world of talent acquisition and management is a constantly changing one, and it’s amazing to be always learning from, and feeling inspired by, so many forward-thinking colleagues. I believe, that as an organisation we not only react effectively to changing markets but more importantly we take a lead in designing new solutions in anticipation of future evolutions – the difference between continuous improvement and innovation.
It was the nature of innovation that provoked this blog today - specifically what needs to be present for innovation to occur. As a solution architect, I am always keen to move this from a nebulous philosophical debate, into the practical build of an environment where AMS and our clients can drive innovation together within our partnerships.
For one moment, I’d like to return to my colleagues again as there are two people who instantly spring to mind (they should remain nameless – I’ll let them work it out!) as true innovators. Individual A probably represents what many will align to innovation; they are comfortable being different and have no fear when recommending a new way of doing things, their visions are exciting and their force of personality motivates all around them to be bolder and apply a new perspective. And then there is Individual B. They too have an inspiring track record of creativity and development, and my view is that they use their own visions and amazing knowledge to create a ‘safe place’ for collaborative design, where new ideas from multiple sources are encouraged and then built out, so that almost without realising it you are suddenly light years further forward from where you have been. So irrespective of whether innovation is noisy or quiet innovation, both individuals are equally effective with the constant being that both dare to dream.
Raising it up to the organisational level, there are many, many articles and white papers written on organisations who are perceived as innovators. Being the type of person who enjoys reading such white papers (I know!) but who wants to use them to inform practical design, I found myself searching for themes and I would propose that there are four identifiable themes that seem to be omnipresent in all successfully-innovative entities.
i. There is a focused user understanding – innovators have an understanding of their needs, the needs of the markets and the needs of their customers. They are often the adopters of design thinking, a methodology that encourages design from a user perspective.
ii. There is support provided to creativity – this is not to say that innovators encourage their resources to sit around ‘thinking’, but rather than there is a cultural recognition in the importance of creating multiple ideas, from multiple sources. So within these innovators you will often witness crowd-sourcing and collaborative design initiatives.
iii. Value is clearly defined – ‘push’ or ‘pull’, for innovation to become reality it needs to have a recognised value. Innovators will often invest their teams with business case acumen to equip them to demonstrate value in a structure that is tailored to the objectives of their organisation.
iv. There is innovation sponsorship – bottom up or top down, innovation requires commitment and governance throughout the organisation, with senior sponsorship essential to drive this commitment and ensure ongoing relevance to corporate ambitions and outcomes.
AMS is known as being an innovator, and I already see all four of these themes in play within our own culture. It has also been particularly exciting, this year, to build out the partnership constructs that enable us and our clients to innovate talent acquisition together, and be surrounded by people who want to say ‘imagine if’ and then take real steps to walk towards that future. So, as we start to look forward to 2020 and beyond, and to return to the very title of this blog, “cheer up sleepy Jean” – let's be proud to be daydream believers and take action to transform those visions into reality.