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ATD Blog

New Research from ASTD: Learning is Critical to Innovation


Wed Oct 05 2011


Organizations of any size and industry need to innovate to remain successful. Whether it’s an iPhone-like breakthrough or a new spin on a traditional idea, if companies want to foster innovation they must have systems and strategies in place to encourage, develop, and sustain new thinking in every role in the organization.

In a new research study Learning to Innovate: Exploring Learning’s Critical Role in Fostering Innovation ASTD and i4cp (the Institute for Corporate productivity) examine the importance of innovation in business success and the ways learning influences it. Companies cannot hope innovation will happen organically. The learning function can and should play a critical role in developing and sustaining the innovative culture that is the hallmark of successful organizations. This report includes a synopsis of interviews with learning leaders who have successfully fostered and sustained innovative practices at high performing companies.


The study contains recommendations on fostering innovation. They include

• Have the learning function take a prominent role in innovation. Make sure any functions dedicated to innovation are solidly integrated with learning. Learning departments can also develop programs that foster innovation.

• Incorporate innovation as a competency in the performance management process.

• Don’t punish a well-thought out failure. Learn from the positive steps in the process.

• Job rotations and stretch assignments can allow people to think innovatively.


ASTD members can download a free whitepaper on the study. The full report_Learning to Innovate: Exploring Learning’s Critical Role in Fostering Innovation_ is available on the ASTD store.

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