Invest in communication skills to aid innovation

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Cross-cutural collaboration leads to innovation – if you get communication right

More than four-fifths (81%) of global executives and government officials believe investment in communication skills would increase their organisation’s ability to innovate, according to a report from the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

The report, How multinationals unleash their creative potential, also found 87% of respondents agree that cross-cultural collaboration produces innovative ideas.

However, this collaboration comes with challenges, as 50% said they thought cultural differences could make it difficult to communicate a new idea to colleagues.

EIU research director Aviva Freudmann said innovation tends to take place at “interfaces of geographical and departmental lines”, as different cultures and approaches meet. She added that “confidence in communications decreases as geographical and departmental separation increases”, highlighting the need for improved communication skills.

The survey of 350 executives and government officials also found 96% were confident in communicating new ideas to their colleagues. When it comes to discussing ideas with colleagues in different countries, confidence levels fall to 72%.

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Companies and government officials also disagreed on who should equip workers with the skills they need to innovate.

Three-quarters (75%) of government officials believe it is the responsibility of employers alone to provide further training for their employees to improve innovation. Only 55% of the corporate respondents agreed it was their sole responsibility.

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The report was sponsored by education company EF Corporate Solutions. EF Corporate Solutions CMO Andy Bailey said CEOs often face issues with employees not being confident enough to share their ideas.

“Companies have to rethink the skills people need to be confident in sharing ideas across hierarchies, departments and countries,” he said.

Bailey told HR magazine: “HR might not always be the ones with the problem, but they will be the ones tasked with solving it.”

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