Creating Innovation Capital

A Talent Development Process

Innovation is a proven driver of productivity and revenue growth. It directly influences business prosperity and economic expansion—so much so, that 43% of companies across sectors and geographic regions view innovation as a “competitive necessity.” Among the most-innovative companies, 67% see innovation as a business mandate.

But while business leaders largely recognize innovation as a strategic imperative, few are successfully grooming their workforces to deliver innovation capabilities. As a result, businesses are missing the opportunity to maximize their competitive assets, increase profitability, and advance the state of their industries. Recapturing that opportunity requires pairing innovation processes with human capital development to create the assets we call “innovation capital.”


Research consistently links innovation to increased workforce productivity, which drives business expansion. In a 2013 global, multi-sector survey of 1757 executives, PwC found that innovation fuels most of the revenue growth for 93% of companies. Over a 3-year period, the most-innovative companies experienced 16% higher growth than the least-innovative. The top-innovating companies also predicted they would achieve 41.5% higher growth than did the least-innovative companies over a 5-year period. Boosting productivity and achieving economic expansion requires both breakthrough and incremental innovations, according to Bart van Ark, chief economist of The Conference Board.

The most innovative companies forecasted about 42% higher growth than the least innovative

of executives say innovation fuels most of their organizations’ revenue growth.

of the most-innovative companies say innovation is a “competitive necessity.”


Despite spending more than $130 billion on corporate training worldwide in 2014, U.S. companies are struggling to build innovation capacity. In The Conference Board’s 2015 CEO Challenge—a survey of 943 corporate leaders worldwide—innovation ranked #2 among the top business challenges globally, and #4 in the United States. Human Resource professionals agree: 90% of respondents in the 2012 Workforce Innovation Survey reported that innovation would become increasingly important for organizations in the coming years .

Yet 40% of organizations in the same Workforce survey said they are failing to foster innovation, and only 16% have a mechanism to measure innovation’s business impact.1 The problem lies in the failure to treat innovation as a discipline that can be trained, learned, and systematically implemented.

of companies are failing to foster innovation.

of companies are measuring innovation’s business impact.


Innovation capital challenges

Innovation rarely arises as a “light bulb moment” in the mind of a single inventor. 11 Rather, it is the result of purposeful, collaborative processes that unfold over time in a semi-structured way. These processes can be taught and managed as part of the “business function” of building innovation capital. This function need not be relegated to a specific business unit responsible for “breakthrough” ideas.

Rather, it can be most effective when dispersed throughout the enterprise and carried out by innovation-capable employees at any level, who apply targeted ways of thinking to generate incremental improvements in products, services, or operations. Honing and coordinating the talents of employees throughout the organization is critical to implementing a sustainable innovation strategy.

Building an Innovation-Capable Organization

Companies with successful innovation outcomes often demonstrate the following practices.

  1.   Execute innovation like a business process. Approaching innovation like a business discipline requires a defined strategy and tools, along with the management processes to link employee training and performance to business results.
  2.  Cultivate an innovation culture. To achieve the ongoing, incremental innovations that improve products, services, and processes, organizations must not relegate innovation solely to an “R&D” function, but foster an innovation mindset among all employees.
  3.  Train employees on innovation skills. Debunking the stereotype of the “creative genius,” innovation is a method of developing new ideas that can be learned by virtually anyone. To be most effective, innovation training should exemplify—through its content and delivery methods—the same multi-dimensional creativity and problem solving that learners are encouraged to develop.
  4.  Create collaborative alliances. In addition to cross-pollination of ideas among functions within the organization, external collaborations with vendors, partners, and customers can accelerate the innovation process.
  5.  Measure innovation’s impact. As with any business process, innovation efforts must be evaluated to monitor outcomes against business goals. Individual contributions to innovation must be mapped to team and organizational results to facilitate strategic alignment, recognition, and ongoing capacity-building.

Learn More

Apollo Education Group offers a full range of employee education and talent management services to help companies meet their business goals. With deep industry expertise and a 40-year history of educational innovation, we use business-relevant content and the most advanced learning technologies to design and deliver cost-effective, scalable, and customizable learning solutions for organizations worldwide. Visit

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About Apollo Professional Development

Apollo Professional Development offers a full range of employee education and talent management services to help companies build and sustain a future-ready workforce. With deep industry expertise and a focus on educational innovation, we use our global education network and the most advanced learning technologies to design and deliver cost-effective, scalable, and customizable learning solutions for corporations worldwide. Learn more.