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Creative Career Paths for Innovators

Creative Career Paths for Innovators


While all organizations want to create teams that can innovate, as practitioners we don’t always think through the skills and capabilities needed to drive innovation and creativity. We rarely place these skills on our list of “demonstrated capabilities” on our career maps. There’s currently some debate on the value of a separate Innovation function, and this author is not a big fan of any office of Innovation inside an organization as it allows others to delegate the role of innovating to someone else. However, regardless of your structural approach, ensuring there’s able focus on innovation in various career paths is key. This report starts with some basics and provides a framework to begin thinking about the roles and skills at various levels and across various functions. Some roles and ideas will fit better in some organizations that others. The intent is to provide a framework for more ideas and to get us all thinking about how we provide innovation and innovators room for growth inside our organizations.

This report provides a framework for thinking through the challenges of stimulating, developing and retaining innovation talent without our organizations.  All organizations have some level of innovation talent.  At times, that talent may not be as visible to management as we would like.  All too often, this talent is using it’s innovation capability to perform typical business task… drive productivity, determine how best to utilize existing resources to face a new business challenge, get creative with handling customer service requests, or find a new way to use standard accounting practices to avoid (but not evade) taxation.  All of these tasks require creativity and organizations typically use innovative talent to get these jobs done.   But how to we tap into this talent to help drive growth through innovation?   Better still, how do we reward, recognize, develop and retain these talents and these skills within our organizations?   One answer to these questions is found in the creation and communication of clear career paths for innovators in our firms and organizations.

As with any business practice, there are various phase to delivering business value through innovation efforts.  Our “innovators” may excel at one or more of these phases, but rarely are individuals uniquely skilled at all phases.   Understanding the different skills required at different steps in our innovation processes can help us define career paths that allow talent to grow and develop in role, thereby providing deeper expertise and higher retention of our innovation talent. …Read more