Together, we are more innovative

We share a chapter of the e-book ‘HR Focus Issues 2015’ published by bluebottlebiz with the participation as co-authors of experts in Human Resources, from corporate directors to consultants and academics.

by Clara Jiménez Piñar, Director of Innovation - Accenture Spain


“Man is a social creature, and to get aroused, his intelligence needs the buzzing of the hive.” Santiago Ramón y Cajal – Winner of the Nobel Prize for Medicine (discoverer of neurons)


The courage to walk towards innovation is a quality that one must conquer individually, but if we walk hand in hand with other colleagues it becomes a shared challenge easier to face. Thus, to get to the innovation faster, we should begin to think about “us” instead of thinking about “myself.”


This entails a paradigm shift in all of those newly created organizations or those that are in the process of renewal. Among other things, it requires a more collective and shared responsibility and vision.


Such a change in thinking also brings other related benefits, such as:

  • Developing creativity and innovation, as it creates an environment that rewards and motivates the generation of ideas that have been refined by collective intelligence.
  • Promoting a new way of working, more collaboratively and more efficiently, when using a virtual environment.
  • Motivating the organization’s members to engage and commit as a basis for entrepreneurship within the organization.


“Small opportunities are often the beginning of great enterprises”, Demosthenes


Professionals need the opportunity to give new ideas or enhance ideas proposed by others. This participation provokes a mindset shift in which innovation, no longer a privilege accorded only to isolated cells in the organization, becomes democratized, spreading throughout the organization and becoming an asset of and for all professionals, and then, really charging our DNA.


How to involve the professionals? How to move their minds from production to exploration? Short term thinking and the imperative to get business results are the strongest enemies of innovation. There is always an excuse for not innovating (no time, too much risk, etc.). The main weapons to win this battle are: communication, training, and rewarding.




“That which we are capable of feeling, we are capable of saying.” Miguel de Cervantes


In terms of communication, it is important to use a tone that is provocative, inspirational, and intelligent and, in some cases, it is also recommended to break the established models. With this philosophy in mind, every year, we should develop a communication plan that includes information sharing through bimonthly newsletters, portals, a yearbook, ecards, etc. The objective is not only to inform, but also to empower professionals with high quality content.


I remember the first communication campaign we undertook to engage professionals in our crowdsourcing of ideas program. A lot of post-its were placed throughout our offices and they clearly changed our way of living and understanding the world. In the texts of these post-its you could read something like "What would life be like today if <name of the inventor or discoverer> had listened those who called his/her invention, <name of the invention>, a useless thing?" In answer to many of these such questions, we would not have the phone, the microwave, the elevator, even toilet paper. Yes, some post-its were placed in the bathrooms! It was crazy, but very funny. Nobody remained indifferent and all the professionals involved in the exercise understood that innovation depends on oneself. Since then, half of them at Accenture Spain, about 5,000, are involved in at least one of our innovation initiatives.




“Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.” Thomas Alva Edison


It was often thought that innovativeness was an inborn attribute, that a person was either born innovative, or not. Furthermore, the ability to innovate was considered to be difficult to improve in a systematic way.


While not entirely true, these assumptions are not entirely false either. We are all born to be innovative, but we lose this ability as we grow, by the social constraints that limit us. Fortunately, it is possible to develop the necessary skills and knowledge to overcome existing barriers and promote this attitude and aptitude in the individual.


The key is certainly in our brain, we need to exercise it and train it. A curriculum is required that promotes these skills and knowledge, and it can be implemented both in face-to-face training and online.


Consider an online platform that teaches essential creative tools to develop individual creativity and, thus, to share, enhance, and capture ideas that can improve our business, our internal processes and, also, our people.


In relation to training, this pivots on developing skills to become more innovative. It contributes to building a culture of innovation in the professional environment. This allows us to anticipate change and to increase our differential value, providing a sound competitive edge.


As a complement to this online methodology, make sure face-to-face sessions are available for those professionals most committed to innovation and also those who proactively ask to improve their ability to innovate.


The satisfaction level of the training program we implemented (online and face-to-face) at Accenture is very high, and every year the innovation department tries to incorporate new themes and learning methodologies.




“Products are tangible, services are intangible, but experiences are unforgettable.” Richard Florida – Author of “The Rise of the Creative Class”


The third weapon in our innovation arsenal is rewarding people for their effort to innovate. A cultural transformation needs evangelists, not mercenaries, and for this reason it is best to reward the most innovative people with memorable experiences, rather than giving them an economic reward. Embracing this philosophy at Accenture, we created innovation centers in Nice and Milan and reward top innovators with visits to these centers. I personally had the opportunity to participate in events in both locations and I can confirm that the experiences are really unforgettable. The creation and planning of such “reward experiences” is a challenge in itself, because every year we have to think of something new, fun, and educational. Innovation is a serious game, but an enjoyable one. It enriches our experiences backpack, and being rewarded in such a way inspires further innovation, making us stronger competitors in our respective fields.


Remember: people are the drivers of change.


Free access to 'HR Focus Issues 2015'

Clara Jiménez Piñar is the Director of Innovation for Accenture Spain. With more than 18 years professional experience, she has spent the last 5 years focusing on innovation in Human Resources and HR technology in addition to innovation management and emerging technology scouting. She holds a major in Telecommunications Engineering from the Polytechnic University in Madrid and was named to the “Who’s who in Innovation in Spain” list by InnovaSpain in 2014