The Innovation Equation
Strengths development + engagement = innovation, according to a Gallup study
* Element 10 Best Friend
* Employee Engagement
* GMJ Surveys
* Strengths-Based Development
by Jerry Krueger and Emily Killham
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"Entrepreneurial innovation will have to become the very heart and core of management." -- Peter Drucker
WhenPeter Drucker penned these words in 1993, he was -- as usual -- well ahead of his time. Executives today have made promoting and managing innovation a top priority. Leaders understand that the ability to transform ideas into successful products or services is essential to creating a competitive advantage.
Recent research on companies that are among the most successful innovators points toone common denominator -- the right culture. To probe the relationship between innovation and culture, the Gallup Management Journal ( GMJ) surveyed U.S. employees to determine the effect on individual creativity and workplace engagement when employers emphasize developing employee talents and strengths. (See "Who's Driving Innovation at Your Company?" in the See Also area on this page.)
Thisresearch indicates that strengths development can be a powerful factor in creating and sustaining a workplace culture that allows innovation to prosper and flourish -- and employee engagement can intensify this effect.
The findings strongly suggest that when companies emphasize strengths development, the chances are greater that a culture of innovation and creativity will exist. When Gallupsurveyed employed adults, 30% of respondents strongly agreed that their organization is committed to building the strengths of each associate. Of those, a majority (54%) also strongly agreed that their current job brings out their most creative ideas. In contrast, of the nearly 50% of respondents who disagreed that their organization is committed to building the strengths of each associate, only 1 in 10strongly agreed that their current job brings out their most creative ideas.
Not surprisingly, the results showed that managers also play a significant role in the "strengths development + engagement = innovation" equation. Fifty-two percent of workers who said their supervisor "focuses on my strengths or positive characteristics" also said that "My current job brings out my most creative ideas."Only 8% of respondents who did not agree that their supervisor focused on their strengths or positive characteristics strongly agreed that their current job brings out their most creative ideas.
Previous Gallup research has shown that higher levels of engagement are strongly related to higher levels of innovation, but the combination of engagement and a focus on strengths magnifies thisimpact. Sixty-six percent of engaged employees -- those with a profound connection to their company -- who said that their organization is committed to building strengths also indicated that their current job brings out their most creative ideas. Only 3% of actively disengaged employees who disagreed that their organization is committed to building strengths strongly agreed that their job bringsout their most creative ideas. (See graphic "The Three Types of Employees.")
Thinking outside the box
Companies that want to create a culture that drives innovation must do more than develop employee strengths. If creativity is to thrive, companies and supervisors need to be receptive to new ideas. Fifty-eight percent of respondents who said that their organization is committed to building thestrengths of each associate also said that their employer encourages new ideas that defy conventional wisdom. Among respondents who disagreed that their employer was committed to building strengths, only 9% strongly agreed that their employer encourages ideas that defy conventional wisdom.
Similarly, when respondents were asked if their supervisor focuses on their strengths and if their company...
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