Developing innovation leaders can be crucial to corporate competitiveness, growth

July 19, 2006

A leader's ability to identify and diffuse innovations is critical to adapting to changing technologies and customer preferences, enhancing employee creativity, developing new products, supporting their organization's market competitiveness, and sustaining economic growth, according to a Penn State researcher.

"Commitment to innovation as a culture is prevalent in organizations as it is commonly woven directly into mission statements. However, leaders still lack the ability to plan, measure, and implement innovative programs, products, and services. These challenges are enhanced by the pressure to juggle several different and often conflicting roles," says Dr. David G. Gliddon, who recently received his Ph.D. in workforce education from Penn State and completed the research as part of his doctoral dissertation. His thesis adviser is Dr. William J. Rothwell, professor of workforce education at Penn State.

In a three-year study, Gliddon identified the competencies that underpinned these roles and developed a competency model of innovation leaders. The competency model can be tailored to any organization as part of a competency-based human resource development initiative.

Once tailored to a specific client, the model can be used to enhance job descriptions of the positions in which the identification and diffusion of innovations is critical, focus succession planning efforts for innovation leaders, discover gaps in an innovation leader's competence, develop competency-based training to fill these competence gaps, and incorporate the innovation leader's competence requirements into the organization's performance appraisal system.

"The aspect of innovation that is most difficult for professionals to grasp is that it is seen as inseparable from risk. Business success is linked to organizations that can overcome the potential risk and become true innovators. These organizations have a corporate culture that nurtures innovation leaders who take risks and think creatively," says Gliddon, who now is a faculty member at Colorado Technical University.

It is not necessarily the innovation leader who must generate new ideas; rather, they must understand what creative employees value. They must encourage new ideas by seeking active input from their employees.

An innovation leader collaboratively interacts with their employees and supports high levels of teamwork, providing opportunities to share innovations. Once an innovation has been shared, employees should be empowered to then adopt the innovation if it is useful. Employees can then support the innovation leader by initially adopting the innovation, and encourage the diffusion of the innovation throughout organization's social system, Gliddon says.

Innovation leaders must also take personal responsibility for and be dedicated to projects that require innovations. Therefore, innovation leaders must establish a trust culture and maintain relationships based on trust. They must display initiative, set challenging project goals, and link those goals to the needs of the customer, department, and enterprise, according to his study.

"Innovation has been linked to the growth of existing enterprises and development of new enterprises. As new products, programs, services, and technologies are created, new opportunities for employment can arise. Innovation can support the creation of new jobs in an economy," says Gliddon.

The key sources of innovation include: research and development, systemic innovation, knowledge management, integration, new business venture strategies, and new business models. The innovation leader can support the success of this economy and the organizations, products, and employees it encompasses.

"Our current economy is characterized by a focus on knowledge, change, and globalization. It is fast and unpredictable and driven by innovative knowledge-based firms who are trying to innovate with scarce resources and skill shortages," says the Penn State graduate.

The competency model of innovation leaders directly addresses these issues and provides an exciting opportunity for economic growth for organizations that seek to maintain competitiveness through innovation. Progress in innovation can be made when organizations provide innovation leaders the opportunity to learn and develop their competence and creativity, according to the study.

Penn State

Related Innovation Articles from Brightsurf:

Food system innovation -- and how to get there
Food production has always shaped the lives of humans and the surface of the Earth.

What is the best way to encourage innovation? Competitive pay may be the answer
Economists and business leaders agree that innovation is a major force behind economic growth, but many disagree on what is the best way to encourage workers to produce the 'think-outside-of-the-box' ideas that create newer and better products and services.

Innovation is widespread in rural areas, not just cities
Conventional measures of innovation suggest that only big cities foster new ideas, but a more comprehensive measure developed at Penn State shows that innovation is widespread even in rural places not typically thought of as innovative.

Scaling up search for analogies could be key to innovation
Investment in research is at an all-time high, yet the rate of scientific breakthroughs isn't setting any records.

Why you should be concerned about Oprah Winfrey when introducing an innovation
New research by Bocconi University's Paola Cillo and Gaia Rubera with Texas A&M's David Griffith asserts that the reaction of large individual investors to innovation is an important component of stock returns, their reaction to innovation depends on their national culture, and there is a way to segment large individual investors and pitch innovation to them accordingly.

Responsible innovation key to smart farming
Responsible innovation that considers the wider impacts on society is key to smart farming, according to academics at the University of East Anglia (UEA).

Pillars of academic innovation
Highlights from the Sixth Annual Conference of the National Academy of Inventors, including high-tech solutions to combat child pornography and radicalization materials; groundbreaking programs to promote STEM major retention; and new materials for wearable technology.

Universities drive innovation in the classroom
The current issue of Technology and Innovation, Journal of the National Academy of Inventors ® (19.2) examines innovation from the university perspective, highlighting what the most innovative institutions and educators worldwide are doing to prepare future engineers and industry leaders to effectively manage IP to grow their companies and the global economy as a whole.

How universities are fostering innovation and entrepreneurship
Technology and Innovation 19.1 zeroes in on innovation and entrepreneurship, with a special focus on what universities are currently doing to foster growth in those areas both for their success and the success of the communities and regions to which they are connected.

Shaping the future of health innovation
Future advances in healthcare will be aided by a new £10 million facility -- the National Institute for Health Research Innovation Observatory based at Newcastle University, UK.

Read More: Innovation News and Innovation Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to