The American Management Association (AMA) will offer a new series of programs that will help companies foster innovation and creativity on all organizational levels. The AMA, which provides professional development and performance-based learning solutions, will use seminars and Web-based programming, among other things, in the new curriculum.
The first course will be based on research and tools by futurethink, an innovation research and consulting firm. The two-day seminar, “Leading Innovation: Creating and Sustaining a Climate for Growth,” will focus on how to remedy the difficulties associated with making innovation part of everyday business.
The first session will be at AMA’s Executive Conference Center in November in New York City, and it will go nationwide in 2007.
“In order to remain competitive in a global marketplace, U.S. companies must look at innovation as a business process that influences every aspect and segment of their organization,” said Edward T. Reilly, AMA president and CEO. “Through our use of futurethink’s practical, hands-on tools, AMA members and other interested organizations will understand the importance of taking ‘intelligent’ risks, develop the climate necessary to sustain innovation and have the resources to put that into place.”
The class is geared toward executives, directors and senior managers, and they will analyze their organization’s culture, prioritize strategies and learn methodologies to create a climate for measurable and performance-oriented creativity. The participants also will learn the skills needed to foster an environment that leads to higher profits, drives growth and builds a more successful organization.
“To effective, innovation needs to be given more leadership and less lip service,” said Lisa Bodell, futurethink CEO.
Bodell also emphasized innovation’s importance, as demonstrated by the results of futurethink’s Innovation Tracker survey.
For the study, more than 100 senior-level professionals in the innovation field were surveyed from among 50 diverse firms, and they all had one common business practice. “These firms approach innovation as an overall business strategy with direct impact on financial stability and growth,” Bodell said. “Their leaders have created an environment that stresses calculated risk taking as standard procedure.”
A recent study commissioned by the AMA and conducted by the Human Resource Institute discovered most companies’ focus on innovation is in research and development, which indicates innovation is considered separate from the overall organization.
In order to be effective, however, organizations must make innovation an integral function, Reilly said. “This study identified that leaders can make or break innovation,” he said. “They can either pigeonhole innovation or set the framework for it to occur at every level of their organization. Our responsibility at AMA, and the focus of the first program in our innovation curriculum, is to teach them how to effectively integrate innovation companywide into their everyday activities.”
And according to futurethink, the right blend of four elements — ideas, strategy, process and climate — will drive an organization’s overall innovation effectiveness. “The greatest idea in the world will remain merely an unarticulated thought if the corporate atmosphere does not support and actually invite intelligent risk-taking,” Bodell said.