Continuous innovation in the Maternal and Newborn Child Health sector plays a crucial role in reducing maternal and neonatal mortality. As new products and services continuously crop up in this space, human capital becomes key in implementing and scaling these innovations. However, setting up human capital structures is a challenge, especially in new organizations focused on the development of an innovation and perhaps only hiring for technical skills needed to develop the innovation.
Human capital structures become increasingly critical as organizations attempt to hire and retain the right individuals, then motivate, reward, and compensate top talent. The Accelerating Saving Lives at Birth program recognized the important role that human capital plays in the launch and scale of innovations and developed a set of best practices outlined in the ‘team’ domain under the Framing Innovations for Success framework. This framework coaches innovators on how to mentor, grow, and empower their teams even as they scale their innovations.
A-SL@B outlines three levels of talent development: leadership, team, and organization. The leadership level focuses on an organization’s earliest members, who assume the roles of Chief Executive Officer, Chief Innovation Officer, and Chief Financial Officer. The team level focuses on talent needed to support leaders in developing, launching, and growing the innovation. Finally, the organizational level looks at the organization as an entity that promotes the growth of all talent. Innovators should endeavor to nurture and effectively engage talent across all three levels.
John F. Kennedy once said that leadership and learning are indispensable to each other. Innovators, as leaders of an organization, set the organization’s culture. Thus, they should continuously invest in developing themselves as they also nurture their teams’ talent. In order to align and steer employees toward an organization’s mission and vision, innovators need to understand why they develop their innovations and organizations. A ‘personal why,’ as coined by Simon Sinek, helps an innovator realize his or her unique purpose. When innovators understand their purposes, they can convey what differentiates their organizations and employees in the marketplace and how they intend to achieve their goals.
To empower employees to deliver on their tasks, innovators invest in nurturing their teams’ talent through training, mentorship, and peer-to-peer collaborations, which facilitate employee engagement and growth. Reward and training programs play an essential role in expanding an organization’s talent as these empower employees to take up new roles and complex tasks such as partner management, fundraising, and leadership.
Village Capital noted that most leaders hire for their current stage, not the one they want to reach. This hinders an organization's growth as it will lack the necessary talent to move from the early to growth stage. To avoid this pitfall, organizations should set up structures to ensure expertise is available at each developmental stage to facilitate reaching the next stage. To support recruitment and retention of top talent, organizations should establish a culture of excellence, values that encourage teamwork, and clear career growth pathways.
As leaders prepare to take their organizations to the next level, they should craft flexible development structures, which can readily adjust to the dynamic nature of the business world, affected by unforeseen risks such as the current COVID-19 pandemic.