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The New Normal is… innovative, learning and entrepreneurial

November 17, 2020

Is it really only three years since Apple opened its doors to the Apple Park? Costing an estimated $4.17bn, it was one of the most expensive buildings in the world. Apple obviously believed in the benefit of having a physical workspace. They were not alone in the view that ‘collisions’ spark innovation. Google, Facebook and Samsung, to name just a few, also designed spaces to maximize physical encounters, specifically with innovation in mind (find out more).

How different our world is today. For the short term at least, many employees are siloed in their own homes and, even as the world reopens, this maximization of physical interactions sits starkly at odds with the current mood. Consequently, the ability to operate and innovate outside of shared office spaces is set to become part of the ‘new normal’.

Innovation, reinvention and the driving of change through entrepreneurship couldn’t be more important than it is now as companies seek to remain relevant. Yet, research shows, whilst 84% of business executives see innovation as a crucial factor of their growth strategy, only 6% are satisfied with their innovation performance. As widespread and significant change continues in our post-Covid world, those unable to respond and innovate may be left behind.

Innovation success will come with a deep anchoring in an organization’s “remote” culture

Whilst many organizations now recognize that they are able to operate effectively in a remote environment, we all know keeping the lights on and maintaining the status quo is only part of the challenge. Companies also need to learn how to grow, innovate, and change in this new normal.

Scott Birnbaum, a vice president of Samsung Semiconductor, once said, “the most creative ideas aren’t going to come while sitting in front of your monitor”. But that’s exactly what we need to do now. So, how can we develop innovative and disruptive ideas in 2020 when we’re sitting in front of our monitors?

Digital and virtual collaboration will be a key catalyst to this and is covered in our blog on collaboration and digital tools.

But that’s not all. As we all set about Reinventing Work, there are three critical success factors within digitally mature organizations that support innovation, learning and entrepreneurship:

Success factor 1: Accepting, and even celebrating, risk and failure

Crowd Companies’ research shows, that over half of corporate innovation leaders face the challenge of encouraging an internal culture of experimentation and innovation. The most common barrier we see is organizations placing too much importance on minimizing mistakes and avoiding failure.

Companies with a strong innovation culture have visible innovation process support structures in place. Innovative solutions, such as Blockchain Partner with its blockchain solution TIM, a platform that manages internal funding processes, can help to increase employee engagement, idea generation, and innovation speed.

Beyond that, leadership engagement and support are key. Leaders must actively communicate and demonstrate that the organization endorses innovation and the testing, trialling, failing and learning that comes with it.

Balancing the risk of failure with the innovation required for long-term growth and stabilizing the business with predictable returns in the short term will be challenging for most organizations after the pandemic.

Success factor 2: Addressing skills gaps and accelerating learning

Covid-19 has massively accelerated the need for digital skills as organizations set about Reinventing Work. For example, Microsoft invested in digital upskilling programs to provide 25 million people with access to the digital skills needed to fill new jobs and to foster a safe and successful economic recovery. This initiative is grounded in three areas of activity:

  • The use of data to identify in-demand jobs and the skills needed to fill them
  • Free access to learning paths and content
  • Low-cost certifications and free job-seeking tools.

At Capgemini Invent we have enhanced our own learning capability through the online learning platform Coursera. This enables employees to build their skills in a gamified and personalized way to meet their needs and individual development plans.

When it comes to recruiting the right skillsets, a potential employee’s ability to adapt quickly to new skill and job requirements is now part of the mix – what we call ‘learnability’.  After all, an openness to change will shape your organization’s future success. Digital tools, such as the pymetrics platform powered by a science-backed, fairness-first approach to assessments, can help to incorporate learnability into the decision making for hiring.

Success factor 3: Empowering employees to drive change – from the bottom to the top

Entrepreneurial-oriented organizations empower employees to take risk and drive their ideas forward. 3M, the worker safety and consumer goods company, promotes innovation and entrepreneurialism through its ‘15% culture’. This encourages employees to set aside 15% of their time to pursue innovative ideas – and to fail at them.

In this, leaders are also enabling autonomous ways of working – something we explore more in another of ‘The new normal’ blogs. The 15% culture is reflective of the former 3M president’s words that “if you put fences around people, you get sheep. Give people the room they need”.

How a global manufacturer mastered its cultural transformation

Global manufacturer LEONI sought to bring to life its newly announced corporate vision to provide employees and managers with the right environment to collaborate and lead effectively. This demanded a transformation of its corporate culture.

Working with Capgemini Invent’s change management experts, LEONI built consensus on the needs of employees and leaders across all functions and different geographies. A collaborative approach enabled LEONI to make employees the stakeholder of change and use their energy and wisdom to transform from within.

By practicing innovative and creative methods in global Design Labs and bringing people together from across countries and departments, employees quickly experienced the fundamental techniques and skills for innovation: design thinking, agile and cross-functional ways of working. Together they set about Reinventing Work.

Find out more

Discover how ready your Innovation, Learning & Entrepreneurship practices are for the future. Try our free Digital Culture Assessment teaser version here.

Learn more about how Capgemini Invent is Reinventing Work here.


Toby Sylvester


Capgemini Invent