How HR can build innovation and drive value

Human Resources can play a critical role in the evolution of an organization by focusing on what really matters for a company in the VUCA world:
  1. Showcasing readiness for transformation
  2. Challenging the Status Quo in ways that support the organizational vision and dreams,
  3. Taking the lead on topics affecting people and organizations, such as innovation and sustainability.
By combining open innovation and effective methodologies, an organization can increase its effectiveness in accomplishing business transformation.  For episode 042 of my World Class Leaders Show podcast, I discussed this topic with Carlo Albini. Carlo began his professional journey in management consulting, serving leading multinational companies with a focus on transformation programs enabled by technology. Since 2020, Carlo has been in charge of People and Organization Innovability, a brand-new organizational structure responsible for leading sustainability and innovation, focusing on the future of work, open innovation culture, and agile transformation at the Group level.

Defining the right metrics for Driving Innovation and Sustainability

Operational leaders tend to prioritize delivering incremental improvements in their KPIs and targets in a more linear fashion. This is not ideal. Many major transformational projects begin with monitoring and tracking the success of reinforcement of employer branding and the development of a new employee value proposition. In Carlo’s experience, the most relevant KPIs during the past 18 months have been metrics that track diversity and inclusion, such as the journey of women within an organization. These metrics would include analysis of any discontinuities and impacts to opportunities and choices caused by career gaps due to family concerns, return to work practices, and ensuring pay equity and access to top management positions. Likewise, ensuring the organization has no blind spots due to cultural, ethnic, or religious assumptions that no longer match the diversity in the workforce.

Building the Talent Pool

As the workforce diversity increases and the demographics change, organizations will find it necessary to invest in developing talent and skills in required areas. For example, Enel decided that Information Technology and Programming/Coding were two essential competencies for the future.  By combining the two areas and partnering with a Non-Governmental Organization called Power Coders, we’ll be able to enlarge the scope and educate groups of people such as young people, women, and even refugees. These were individuals who had been excluded by the labor market, or who had not had opportunities for education and training. 

Increasing Internal Influence

In any transformational process, an essential requirement is the ability to deliver. A leader must have the ability to sense the level of adaptation adherence to the transformational change.  In the Agile methodology, the concept of the ‘minimum viable product’ allows for an iterative process that makes a visible change in small successful incremental stages. This can kick start the needed change while leaving openings for feedback and adjustment to change the course of action if required.

Improving Communications

During major change, good communication is the most important success factor:
  1. Listen to the people – provide several avenues of internal communication
  2. React quickly and respond with transparency, offering guidelines, timing, and expectations
  3. In the case of deep cultural transformations, identify evangelists and ambassadors without relying on hierarchy. These important change agents should be people who are close to the frontlines, and who are influencers, regardless of their title.
It’s important to keep in mind that there’s no single recipe — the approach must be adaptive for each situation.

Planning for the Future of Work

Here are some predictions:
  1. Sourcing talent: it will be necessary to include everyone in the labor market. Gender, disability, aging, ethnicity — all of these dimensions must be addressed.
  2. We must be structured and forward-looking with our strategic vision for upskilling or reskilling; i.e. planning competencies and creating structured programmes that move the organization forward.
  3. We will need to focus on the circularity of talent for long-term employability. In other words, it will be critical to develop and nurture people’s competencies, passions, and talents. We must allow intrapreneurship that supports an individual’s passion. This is how to create value; not only for the workers but also for society in general.
  4. It will also be important to develop a multi-stakeholder dialogue so that corporations can actually provide value back to society by expanding the value-add of their employees.
It will be essential that HR figure out the transformation of the HP processes due to technology impact: Recruiting, onboarding, change management, joining, and using the metaverse. These aspects will transform the opportunity of authentic technology for a new candidate or employee experience. Changing the mindset with which one adopts technology allows the adoption of the best technology options to make processes simpler and more effective, which will lead to better results. HR leaders will manage a portfolio of transformational projects for greater credibility towards the top management. To learn more or to contact Carlo Albini directly, he can be found on Twitter @AlbiniPv, or on LinkedIn, at For more information about my work with leaders and organizations, to subscribe to my weekly newsletter, or to take a free assessment of your leadership level, please drop me an email at [email protected], or go to my website at I would also very much appreciate hearing from you about your thoughts on this episode, or suggestions for future topics for this podcast. Listen to the podcast related to this article:  
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