Creating A Culture Of Innovation

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— Managers imitate; leaders innovate

As a leader, one of the biggest pressures I face is to do more with less. I am constantly being asked to squeeze more production from our resources and to find creative ways to find the very best candidates. To succeed we need to continually strive to find innovative solutions to our problems. We can’t simply imitate others—although it is easy, it doesn’t give us the competitive advantage that we need to stay ahead of the market, and we will always be chasing others. Quite honestly, how fun is that? I want to be part of a team that is always striving to find the next big thing and that is always thinking about a different way to solve problems. Every day we need to challenge the sourcing “status quo” and push forward with new ideas.

Be an example yourself.

That obviously sounds wonderful, or at least it should. But how do you actually do it? It is easy to fall into the “if only” traps –“if only” I had more time, “if only” I had more people, “if only” I had more money. I will admit to having my days, but as a leader it is critical for both my team and me that I am able to move past that. Innovation is sparked by necessity. If I could throw a bunch of money at any problem I had, innovation would probably take a back seat. That leads me to my first point – I have to set the example for my managers and team. That means openly encouraging and rewarding people to question me. It isn’t easy. Encouraging people to challenge your vision, your processes, your tools, and everything you have put your heart into can be tough. What’s the alternative though? If I am the artificial ceiling that limits our team, we can only go so far. We have just over 40 sourcers globally. Each of them was hired because we believed in their skills, passion and creativity. I must allow them the artistic freedom to succeed. It not only keeps them engaged, but when you have that many smart, talented, and creative people all striving to “reinvent sourcing, SOURCING MAGIC HAPPENS!!

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Encourage creativity by listening to all ideas.

As you can imagine, when this really works, tons of ideas are thrown out. Some are game changers and some aren’t. This leads me to my second point. How you handle the game changers are important (and rather easy), but how you handle the ones that aren’t will ultimately determine your success. If you immediately dismiss or minimize the suggestions that aren’t on the mark, not only does it embarrass the person, but it sends a message to everyone else to tread lightly. New ideas will soon cease and you’ll have to start regaining everyone’s trust all over again. This should be a fun process, and as new ideas take shape, it becomes contagious.

I would love to hear about other team’s successes so please feel free to share them in the comments.

You have permission to amaze me!

Chris Gould is the Global Head of Talent Acquisition for Aon and Aon Hewitt. Gould has been in HR consulting since 1996 and is considered an industry expert in social media, sourcing, and recruiting. He is known for his ability to influence, execute, motivate, and implement change within complex matrix environments. He was the keynote speaker at SourceCon 2010 and is a requested speaker on topics related to social networking and sourcing. His work has resulted in press interest including The Wall Street Journal and the SHRM HR Magazine. He is also the founder of the OnlineR Community, an online community with over 7,000 members.

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