What does HR have to do with consumer trends?


When someone asks about the no. 1 benefit of running a trend-driven innovation workshop with us, I say it’s about a smarter way of looking at the world around you. When I put on the business suit, I say it’s a more efficient & relevant way of looking where your customers are heading. But, whatever role you need to play, and however you call it, let’s face it - when it comes to innovation, no matter the industry, it’s ALL about people! Without the right people working in the right way, it won’t happen.

Thus, working with Ulrike Oswald - Expert Talent Manager and Organizational Developer at Telekom Austria Group – and running workshops with both their young talents and their senior executives - has grown into the most impactful work I’ve done so far with big organizations.

For them, keeping up with changes increasingly became THE job of HR. I’ve asked Oswald to share her thoughts on trend-driven innovation’s impact on HR …

What is the biggest challenge of your role?

In big organizations, the tension between the experiences in our private lives and the ones in our business lives (aka. the way an organization runs) becomes bigger and bigger.

‘Digital transformation' is our mantra. This cannot be reduced to teaching people how to use new collaboration tools inside the organization. In fact, it is all about building a culture around new ways of working that are more independent, agile, open, where people are not only allowed but encouraged to come up with ideas (beyond departmental limitations) and are given the tools to make them happen too.

People’s expectations as employees change at the same tempo as the ones they have as consumers. To keep them happy, we need to make sure the organization keeps up with changes in culture and their expectations.

How can trend-driven innovation help?

HR goes beyond payroll, recruiting, compensation and benefits – the role of HR is to be a strategic partner & change driver that needs to get the best out of their people by encouraging self-expression.

Trend Driven Innovation helps us to shoot two birds with one stone: it builds a consumer centric culture for our business and, at the same time, it transforms the way people work. The methodology and especially the Consumer Trend Canvas empowers people to understand that not only marketing experts are “allowed” to come up with great consumer facing innovations. Work becomes cross-functional, faster and more daring.

How do you deal with cultural change in an organization with 17.000+ employees?

Cultural changes can only happen with the support from the top and they take time. That’s why for us it’s important to keep a constant flow of inspiration and train and support people at all levels in the organization.

The most challenging aspect is to customize learning programs to individual needs. How do you do that in a 17.000+ employee company? Among other things, we as TAG Business School – an internal learning platform – try to accelerate the change by developing “Idea Coaches” that multiply the message across departments and hence support the change needed.

To make sure we do our job right we constantly need to be aware of changes in people’s attitudes, values, needs and behaviors. In other words, constantly look at consumer trends.

Our tailored Apply Workshops ensure you and your team are fully ‘Innovation Ready’ – able to understand, analyze and then deploy consumer trends in order to launch profitable new products, campaigns, services and even new business models. Find out more here