Once upon a time, innovation meant technological innovation--new products or features that offered quantifiable advantages over older solutions. In the decades after World War II, when the idea of industrial R&D was just emerging, innovation came from "the boys in the lab," scientists and engineers who worked exclusively on finding the company’s next big breakthrough. The nature of innovation has clearly changed. Not only are the boys in the lab no longer all boys; they’re not even the only (or often even the primary) source of innovation. Companies no longer look solely to their research laboratories for innovation--if they even maintain dedicated labs—but instead seek to develop cultures that foster innovation across the workforce. That makes finding, training, and keeping the right people more important than ever, not just for the daily functioning of the organization but for its very survival. Suddenly, human resources— the dreaded, much-maligned HR department—is (or should be) at the center of the quest for innovation.
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Volume 59, Issue 3, May-June 2016