Are employees allowed to take ownership of their enterprise ?

In his opening Keynote at the latest HR Tech World conference in London, Ken Robinson talked about creativity and innovation in the enterprise. This is not a new topic regarding customer facing activities but it’s often counter cultural regarding internal organization and employee facing activities.

According to Robinson, innovation and creativity requires employees to take ownership of their enterprise, of their job. Take ownership ? What does it mean ? It means that employees must be able to deliver their understanding of what the company is, its values, the way it operates, their own role, the way they work and contribute to the collective performance.

No one can create with a matter one can’t feel and handle

No one can innovate, propose new approaches and way of doing if he can’t feel and handle the matter. I’ll make a comparison with artistic activities : if one is not comfortable with touching the matter, if one is not allowed to touch and handle it, if one does not feel free to follow his own understanding, one won’t innovate.

Taking ownership of one’s company and job is also a matter of engagement and requires employees to be involved. When people don’t care about the future of their company or of their job, if they’ve always had the impression to be affected but not to participate, they don’t care about the future. Either because they assume being victims, or because they agree to be partners of a sad ending, or because they’re already somewhere else in their mind. Most people are somewhere else in their mind because they tried to innovate but where not allowed to take ownership of anything. So they dream of a better place, a place where their ideas can become real.

But in many cases the enterprise is seen as a too serious matter to be left in the hand of the employees. For trivial matters, why not, but not for structuring ones. Knowing who we are and what to do is the C-Level job. Knowing what your job is and how you do it, is the manager’s HR job.

Businesses invent their future with their clients, rarely with their employees

On the other hand we have many examples of businesses reinventing their future with their clients. The Lego case is a well-known example but businesses are more likely to invent their future with their clients than with their employees. That’s logic but at the end of the day their approach lacks a building block if they expect employees to be fully engaged.

The main idea underlying the Future of Work is the consumerization of the enterprise. Consumerization means new expectations regarding work tools, services and operating models, what often implies co-creation and design thinking. Such ideas are making their way but in a too feebleness way when it comes to sensible matters.

Behind an apparently new matter, we can find very well-known ones :

• Trust. Businesses must trust their employees to reinvent and employees must trust their employer to dare.

• Engagement. Without engagement employees won’t care about the future of anything.

Without these two cornerstones, the best concepts and methodologies are worth nothing.

Photo Credit : Fotolia

Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler
Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler

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