Talent Management

Mar 30, 2023 6 min read

From failing to innovating: Role of HR in promoting experimentation

Author works at the legal department of Engineers Indian Limited

Change is the law of nature and necessity is the mother of invention. Also, accidents are the first steps of innovation. Most probable outcomes of a phenomenon under consideration are compiled with credible certainty only after a range of experiments. From discovery of electricity to small strategic changes in the user interface of a website for increasing online traffic, the history of mankind is dotted with various incidents that were a part of experiments, which ultimately led to betterment of the situation. In the present globalized world, where competition amongst the corporates is one of the great driving forces behind continuously evolving business models, experimentation is an integral part of achieving innovation. Business across various sectors have one thing in common, that is, their constant efforts to disrupt the market by bringing in such a product or service that would outsmart and out maneuver the competition. Business cannot do without innovation and innovation is not possible without experimentation.

Experimentation is a necessary cost for a business to thrive. Now, models related to experimentation may be varied, ranging from cost intensive models like establishing a separate research department, allocating huge budgets, hiring professional agencies to being as less cost intensive as creating such an environment in the corporate which inspires and promotes experimentation in day to day work, without fear of failure or freedom from repercussions of failure. The key to experimentation is loosing the fear of failure. Experimentation often has its routes from breaking stereotypes, deviating from the time tested and established procedures, protocols of an organization. The driving force behind experimentation is the will to avoid focus on familiar solutions or working on the ideas that are already known to provide solutions. The employees are daunted with the prospects of failure and losing out on resources. This results in making the managers reluctant to allocate resources for experimentation making organizations conservative about experimentation. But a corporate must necessarily go old school and understand that a large volume of experiments with low success rate will gradually translate into a significant number of successes which in turn will diminish the cost of resources at work.

HR can and must have a role to play in helping the organization stay ahead of competition, but it needs to be focused on creating a environment that enables employees to be free from fear and indulge into the mindset of experimentation. With the rapid evolution of technology and the way people and society have evolved, HR leaders need to rethink and reshape their company culture. Employees love a culture where they feel they can make an impact. It takes courage to offer up big ideas though, especially when no one is sure whether those ideas will succeed. The key to encouraging a culture of innovation is to make experimentation a cultural norm.

HR must make policies where it is propagated that learning to fail quickly and adapting is important for organizations that want to succeed in the long term. HR must strive to create an environment where employees are given the opportunity to do these things at work, work becomes more enjoyable and exciting. An innovative work culture allows employees to think independently, experiment and problem solve creatively, without fearing failure. HR are the brains behind managing the culture governing the mindset of the employees. As much as it is within the domain of the business vertical of a corporate, obligation of creating a fearless environment promoting experimentation rests with the HR department.

Innovation is no longer a choice, it is essential in order to stay ahead of the competition. Innovation can only come through experimentation. Human resource and the HR Management being the backbone of industry must enhance their role, formulate and implement strategies to promote the freedom to promote experimentation at all vertical levels and  while at the same time attempt to educate employees that failure is just another step towards success.


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