Are your own people your biggest barrier to higher innovation and agilityAre your own people your biggest barrier to higher innovation and agility? That’s what recent research from Great Place to Work found in a study of 792 companies totaling about 500,000 employees.

In this new study, Innovation by All, Great Place to Work concluded organizations with high-trust cultures involve and engage many more employees than most organizations in the innovation process. These companies are much more agile and become masters rather than victims of change.

The study notes that discussions of innovation today focus on technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain tools, and automation. But “many leaders today are failing to fully tap their human potential, which paradoxically has increased even as machines have become more central to business.”

“Innovation by All (IA) maximizes a company’s human potential by tapping into the intelligence, skills, and passion of everyone in the organization. IA cultures “generate more high-quality ideas, realize greater speed in implementation, and achieve greater agility– resulting in 5.5 times the revenue growth of peers with a less inclusive approach to innovation.”

Here are a few study highlights:

  • Innovation is now as much about agility as invention.
  • Leaders need more speed with changing internal systems, launching new products, and responding to rapidly changing markets.
  • Human judgement is vital to quickly capitalizing on new technologies. Front-line employees are central to that acceleration.
  • The fastest, most nimble organizations have a ratio of 11:2 — eleven employees pulling the organization forward for every two dragging on growth and agility. Functional organizations’ ratios are 5:2 while the slowest and worst performing organizations are 3:2.
  • IA organizations rapidly adapt to disruptive change, quickly create new approaches, and generate high-quality ideas.
  • These highly accelerated organizations have “21% higher levels of discretionary effort, 14% less risk of turnover, 32% improved productivity, and 33% more adaptability.”
  • Employees at IA organizations consider their leaders highly genuine and caring. Trust and autonomy are also much higher than in peer organizations. These leaders set inspiring visions and live by shared core values.
  • People in the best IA organizations report significantly higher levels of looking forward to coming to work, adapting quickly to changes needed for the organization’s success, and recommending their organization as a great place to work.

An employee at one of the highly innovative organizations in the study said, “If another company were to come in, offer me three times more than what I’m making today, I couldn’t leave because I know if I went there, I wouldn’t have this,” he says. “I’d be throwing away this foundation that I built here, and the whole company has this.”

How innovative is your organization? Is your leadership boosting or blocking agility? How do you know?

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