3 Elements Of Workforce Innovation Readiness

3 Elements Of Workforce Innovation Readiness
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Summary: Understanding your employees' skills, identifying areas for improvement, and developing a plan for an innovation culture all depend on measuring your organization's workforce innovation readiness. In this article, we'll examine everything you need to know for assessing an organization's readiness for innovation.

Thinking, Collaborating, And Cultivating Innovation

The volume, velocity, and complexity of change make innovating imperative. However, most organizations focus on the technology aspect of innovation and forget that innovation is, in fact, about people. Just as not all organizations are equally prepared to embrace and harness the power of innovation, they are equally unprepared to measure their workforce innovation readiness. Measuring an organization's workforce innovation readiness is essential to understanding the workforce's current capabilities, identifying areas of improvement, and creating a roadmap for fostering a culture of innovation. In this article, we will explore key indicators and methodologies for measuring innovation readiness in an organization. Workforce innovation readiness is a measurement of the innovation skills of the workforce across three key domains that drive an innovative mindset: thinking innovatively, collaborating innovatively, and cultivating innovation. This article examines each key element and how it drives workforce innovation readiness.

Thinking Innovatively

Thinking innovatively is a cognitive process that involves developing a growth mindset, generating creative ideas, challenging conventional wisdom, deploying critical thinking, and finding novel solutions to problems. It is a mindset that embraces curiosity, exploration, and a willingness to ask new questions [1] about old problems. Innovative thinking goes beyond traditional problem-solving approaches and encourages individuals to push boundaries, explore new possibilities, and envision alternative futures.

Innovative thinkers cultivate [2] the ability to see opportunities where others see obstacles. They are keen observers of people and their needs, always looking for unmet needs or gaps in the products or services in the market. Innovative thinkers cultivate the ability to identify problems that others have overlooked and find innovative ways to address them. This could involve leveraging emerging technologies, adopting new business models, or reimagining existing processes.

At the heart of innovative thinking is the ability to generate original ideas. Innovators have a unique capacity to connect seemingly unrelated concepts and find new perspectives. They approach problems with an open mind, willing to challenge assumptions and explore unconventional solutions. They are not afraid to take risks and embrace failure as a valuable learning experience.

Innovative thinking also requires a willingness to embrace change and adapt to evolving circumstances. Innovators understand that the world is constantly evolving, and what worked in the past may not be relevant in the future. They are open to experimenting, iterating, and refining their ideas based on feedback and new information. This flexibility allows innovative thinkers to navigate uncertainty and seize emerging opportunities.

Collaborating Innovatively

Collaborating innovatively is a dynamic and transformative approach to working together that fosters the generation of breakthrough ideas, enhances problem-solving capabilities, and drives innovation. Collaborating innovatively goes beyond traditional teamwork and encourages individuals and teams to leverage their collective intelligence, diverse perspectives, and complementary skills to create novel solutions and achieve shared goals.

Crucial to collaborating innovatively is embracing the fact that diversity is key to driving innovation [3]. By bringing together individuals with different backgrounds, expertise, and ways of thinking, innovative collaboration fosters allyship, gives everyone a voice, enriches the collective pool of knowledge, and opens up new possibilities. The inclusion of varied viewpoints stimulates creativity, challenges assumptions, and broadens the range of potential solutions. Innovators understand the power of collective intelligence and actively seek input from a diverse range of perspectives. This collaborative approach encourages the exchange of ideas, cross-pollination of knowledge, and the synthesis of diverse insights, leading to breakthrough innovations.

Collaborating innovatively involves adopting agile and flexible approaches. Instead of rigidly adhering to predetermined plans or hierarchies, innovative collaborators embrace experimentation, iteration, and adaptation. They are willing to test and refine their ideas based on feedback, insights, and emerging information. This iterative process enables rapid learning and adjustment, allowing teams to course-correct and optimize their efforts as they progress toward their shared objectives.

Collaborating innovatively also hinges on open communication and active engagement among team members. It encourages an environment where everyone feels comfortable expressing their ideas, opinions, and concerns. This fosters a culture of psychological safety, where individuals can freely contribute and take risks without fear of judgment or reprisal. When team members are empowered to share their insights and contribute meaningfully, the collective intelligence of the group is harnessed to its fullest potential.

Interdisciplinary teamwork and cross-functional collaboration also drive innovation. By bringing together individuals from different disciplines, such as technology, design, marketing, and business, diverse skill sets can be combined to tackle complex challenges holistically. This interdisciplinary approach fosters the cross-pollination of ideas, facilitates the exploration of multiple perspectives, and sparks the emergence of innovative solutions that would not have been possible within the confines of a single domain. Collaborating innovatively is a powerful catalyst for innovation and problem-solving. By embracing diverse perspectives, fostering open communication, promoting agility, and leveraging interdisciplinary teamwork, teams can unlock their collective potential and achieve breakthrough outcomes.

Cultivating Innovation

Cultivating innovation within an organization is a vital strategic approach that can drive growth, foster a culture of continuous improvement, and enable adaptability in an ever-changing business landscape. Cultivating innovation creates an environment that supports and nurtures creative thinking, experimentation, and the development of new ideas.

Leadership plays a crucial role in cultivating innovation. Leaders need to communicate a clear vision and set the tone for innovation within the organization. They should encourage risk-taking, reward creativity, and provide resources and support for innovative initiatives, too. Leaders also need to lead by example by being open to new ideas, embracing change, and creating a safe space for employees to express their innovative thinking. Organizations that cultivate a culture that values and encourages innovation are known to deliver better employee and customer experiences, and have stronger performance.


Measuring workforce innovation readiness is a critical step in unleashing an organization's potential for growth and success. Thinking innovatively, collaborating, and cultivating innovation are three foundational elements of workforce innovation readiness pertaining to the skills the workforce needs to move toward behavior change. Measuring workforce innovation readiness allows organizations to identify gaps, prioritize actions, and develop strategies to enhance the workforce innovation skillset capacity. By creating a culture that embraces and values innovation, organizations can position themselves at the forefront of their industries, drive meaningful change, and unlock new opportunities for business performance results.

Further Reading:

[1] eLearning Skills 2030: Asking Great Questions

[2] Innovation Blueprint: Cultivating An Innovation Mindset

[3] How Diversity Can Drive Innovation