How To Drive and Sustain Innovation With Learning and Development Training

Is your organization struggling to keep up with the innovation demands in your sector? Recent research suggests that some key learning and development (L&D) strategies hold the answers you’ve been searching for. Innovation and training? They go hand-in-hand. 

Having a well-strategized innovation strategy is the key to maintaining your company’s competitive advantage. The competition of the rapidly globalizing marketplace expands daily and staying innovative will help your organization stand out from the crowd.

A common misconception, however, is that impactful innovation strategies can be formulated around innovative products alone. While outputs demonstrate your organization’s innovative nature to the public, driving and sustaining effective innovation (to uphold those innovative outputs!) requires having first established an effective innovation strategy within your office. 

Your company’s L&D function can help you get there. According to the 2019 L&D report from findcourses.com, companies with growing revenue are 3x more likely to predict an increase in their L&D budget. Moving innovation from the training room into daily operations can be achieved by reevaluating how your company currently approaches training, to utilize L&D strategies that will maximize your organization’s innovative potential.

If you’re just beginning to explore what innovation means for your company, business innovation training courses will help you get a firm grasp on your organization’s innovative needs, and transfer the right knowledge to your employees to help your business’ innovation grow.

Conversations with practicing training professionals in the 2019 L&D report demonstrate the ability of training to influence how your organization can build, maintain and sustain an impactful innovation strategy. From building safe spaces for ideation in the training room, keeping your L&D function agile, and taking advantage of innovation expertise from beyond your organization, read on to discover the innovative potential of L&D!

Build Safe Spaces To Let Ideation Flourish

Consider how your organization currently approaches training your employees. Is information thrown at trainees in an old-school university lecturer style with no room for participation or feedback? Even if your current training strategy isn’t quite so dramatically ineffective, without space for employees to share their ideas there’s a good chance that all that information is going in one ear and out the other, missing the chance to make its intended impact.

Making a shift in your approach to training by designating the training environment as a safe space is one way to give employees the assurance they need to share their ideas without fear of repercussions.

Tiffany Poppa, the Director of Employee Experience at Bonobos has found that innovation is an organic by-product of creating safe spaces and focusing on employees’ individual strengths in training. “Focusing on strengths creates trust; it creates a safe space to try something and possibly fail, have a conversation about it, and move forward. […] Our strengths-based approach has effectively fostered a culture of collaboration and open communication because it celebrates the individual,” Poppa says.

Without fear of saying the wrong thing and by having the freedom to participate in their own training, employees will be more engaged in the training materials. Furthermore, you’ll find a wealth of new perspectives being brought to the table. By driving diversity within your innovation team, you’ll be opening your organization to limitless innovative potential. 

You hired your employees for a reason. By explicitly creating spaces for them to speak, more diverse, innovative, and never-before-heard perspectives will organically bubble to the surface.  

Agile Training Breeds Innovation

Agile is yet another term used by professionals across industries, especially when it comes to formulating an impactful innovation strategy.

But what does it mean in relation to training? As we’ve established, the market has never been as competitive as it is today, and it’ll get more competitive tomorrow. Your business’ and your employees’ needs can change on a dime, and being unprepared will mean lagging behind your competitors.

Implementing an agile training infrastructure will help employees shift more easily from working towards one goal to another, keeping outputs aligned with the broader goals of your business. If you need to break into a market on a moment’s notice, well-trained employees will have the right tools in their arsenal to make transitions as smooth as possible.

For VP of Learning and Development at Wyndham Destinations Anthony Sandonato, agility has been the key to building an L&D program that stays aligned with Wyndham’s needs.

“Our L&D team structure is built upon that flexible framework, and designed to remain nimble and adjust to continuous organizational changes without compromising either the speed or quality of our talent development strategies,” Sandonato explains.

With an agile training infrastructure in place, your L&D function will be prepared to upskill employees and take on new challenges as the needs of your business shift. In a similar L&D report from findcourses.co.uk, Global Talent Development Manager for WilsonHCG Dave Miller explained that “Because employees are based in different locations, and their cultures and demographics are different, we have to constantly adjust what we do. I think that constant feedback also keeps up the competitive advantage.” By experientially demonstrating agility to employees in training, they’ll be able to apply that same logic to their daily responsibilities. 

Look Outside Your Company Walls

These strategies are exciting, but may also be more than you have the resources to implement. Looking outside the walls of your organization is one way to ensure that you’re implementing an innovation strategy that will have a real impact is looking to external expertise.

Resources abound to help you implement and sustain an impactful innovation strategy and your organization’s competitive advantage. Head of US Learning and Talent Development at Bayer Karen Bicking finds that “you can influence innovation when you’re living it.” Take the first step of exploring the resources outside your company walls to garner a better understanding of the innovation landscape dominating today’s marketplace. Full-service software platforms like IdeaScale offer bespoke solutions to help your company’s innovation strategy shine. 

If you’re wondering how to make innovation work for your company, asking for help is the best place to start.

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Max Maccarone is a content editor for the professional development search engine findcourses.com. Originally from Canada, Max relocated to Stockholm after graduating from York University in Toronto. An avid traveller, Max is dedicated to creating diverse and engaging learning and development content for a wide-range of publications.
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