Updated: Feb 20, 2020
A recent report by the Society of Human Resource Management in the USA reported that some of the most important missing skills that employers report in job applicants are:
Problem-solving, critical thinking, innovation, and creativity (37 percent)
Ability to deal with complexity and ambiguity (32 percent)
Communication (31 percent)
This is a gap in Australia too. I talk to a lot of managers and business owners who are scratching their heads about what to do about it. They can teach industry knowledge, they tell me, and professional development is available for updating technical skills, but they're not sure how to foster innovation and creativity. And where would they even begin fostering a tolerance for complexity and ambiguity. Surely these are just things you're born with? Some people have them and some people don't.
So they often hire a few people who "seem creative," put in a coffee machine and a ping pong table and hope for the best. Or they hold ad hoc "brainstorming" sessions to stimulate ideas and then decide that it's "not for them" when the team either fails to come up with good ideas or fails to implement what ideas they do come up with. When all else fails, at least a few people might come up with some good ideas in the shower one morning.
I'm exaggerating, of course, but I think it's fair to say that a lot of companies struggle to develop innovation processes that are consistent, sustainable and inclusive of the wide range of skills and viewpoints among their staff.
The good news is that all of these skills are highly teachable. In fact, the same report says that onsite training programs is one of most effective remedies for this skills shortage.
And it doesn't have to be expensive, complicated or take years. In fact, it's possible to start the process of giving everyone a shared language and process for innovation in just a few hours. No matter how "uncreative" they think they are.
Read the full report here.