• Fraser Harper

Skills for research, development and innovation 1

“The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination” Albert Einstein

Across the world, organisations both public and private are seeking to innovate and raise their levels of productivity. Most will make incremental changes. A few will use their expertise to provide new services or products into new markets. Far fewer will develop disruptive or radical innovations and create new standards for others to follow.

Recognising the four main forms innovation can take, organisations need to be able to resource their overall improvement effort and know how best to deploy and organise. Key to this is understanding the form and location of the innovation (skills) capacity best suited to manage and improve the processes of the organisation.

For example, the prime innovation effort might be focusing upon relatively short run improvements to the production process providing the service or product, combined with support to both winning business (ie. technical sales support) and to customers using the product (ie. after sales support). This requires a relatively dispersed set of capabilities.

In contrast, other organisations might focus their prime innovation effort within some internal function or team.

In unpicking the capability and deployment requirements of an organisation’s innovation delivery, using a task level input supports the development of a design, resourcing and training approach. This type of approach helps to inform an organisation of its readiness to support its required innovation strategy. By working at the task level, it’s possible to view the ‘closeness’ (ie. similarity and comparability) of critical tasks identified as being core to the innovation process and structure. These tasks and their related skill, knowledge and ability requirements can be grouped and used to derive innovation and productivity indices to develop a strategic perspective.

Working at this detailed level might also contribute to the on-going debates about the sources and forms of productivity growth and its link with innovation1.


  1. McCann, P. (2018) Productivity Perspectives Synthesis. Evidence Review PIN – 07. Productivity Insights Network 32 pages www.productivityinsightsnetwork.co.uk and Huggins, R. (2018) Innovation and Productivity: Towards a Research and Policy Agenda. Evidence Review PIN – 09. Productivity Insights Network 21 pages; and, Abreu, M. (2018) Skills and Productivity Review. Evidence Review PIN-08. 16 pages.


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