Skills for innovation: introduction
Whether you’re building a team or scaling up a project, it’s important to be able to assess what skills you need to do so effectively. In this section we explore some of the core skills needed for innovation specifically within the public sector.
Whatever your aim is when using design and innovation approaches, it’s crucial to have the right people in place to be able to make it happen. But how do you know who the ‘right people’ are? Your understanding of this is likely to be guided by the different skills, knowledge, behaviours and other qualities that the people in your team bring. Yet it’s also important to consider how these fit with the overall aims for the team or specific project – and how each role connects with the others in the group.
Use the content in this section as a prompt to consider what skills you most need to make your public sector innovation project a success. To help begin start, it might be useful to work through the following questions:
1: What’s your purpose?
Reminding yourself of your core aims and purpose will help provide essential context to any plans for new skills or growth. What is your overall vision? And what are the values that guide you? If you’re an existing team, these are likely to be things that already act as a guiding principles for how you work, but it’s still worth revisiting your purpose and clarifying your understanding of it. If you’re expanding the scope of your activities, will it be changing? Within the group, what are the aims of the specific projects?
2: Where are the skills gaps?
Doing a gap analysis can help to identify skills or attributes that you need to add to the team in order to fulfil your purpose. Are there any particular skills, knowledge sets, behaviours or competencies that are lacking? If you’re creating a new team or expanding the scope of an existing one, think about what additional skills and qualities will be required in order to make the growth successful. And what about your own personal skills gaps as an individual: how do you want to develop and grow?
The Public Sector Innovation Readiness quiz in this section can help you to identify some skills gaps both for you as an individual and for your wider team and organisation.
3: How can you fill in the gaps?
There are a number of different ways to fill any gaps that are identified by your analysis. Hiring new people is one way of bringing new skills into the team. You could also think about how you can develop new skills (or ‘level up’ what you already have) within the existing team. And finally, you may be able to bring new skills into the team by forging new collaborative relationships across departments or organisations.
Filling a skills gap is closely linked with building an organisational culture that fosters innovation, and this theme is one that you’ll continue to explore throughout the whole of this module on ‘Building capacity and skills’. In the second section – Organising for innovation – you will see how skills link with cultures of innovation, and then in the final section – Learning and developing – you can explore some of the different training and development options.