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Cris Beswick

Author, Speaker + Strategic Advisor on Innovation

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CPD and Developing a Culture of Innovation


“What ever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”

Napoleon Hill

There are very few ‘eureka’ moments in history. The vast bulk of the sum of improvements to human knowledge has come from hard work and from a continual desire for improvement. But without that desire, without the innate curiosity allied to a thirst for knowledge, mankind quite simply would not exist. 

From the moment we are born we develop; we learn to stand and to walk, to communicate and to learn. Continual improvement, continual development is part of our DNA, so why when it comes to our working lives, should it be any different. The short answer is that it shouldn’t; and yet in far too many organisations the idea of CPD is somewhat akin to time wasting. Sadly, those also tend to be the organisations, which live in the past, which think of customers as a commodity and are led by individuals or senior teams who still believe that just because something worked in the past it is still valid, nowadays.

In short, the organisations, which don’t ‘get’ CPD, are also those, which have yet to understand the importance of innovation as a 21st Century imperative. CPD and innovation go hand in hand. As an innovation consultant and strategic advisor, this synergy between continuing professional development and continual business innovation comes up time and time again. It doesn’t matter to what extent the leadership open up the organisation to innovation if the employees are not given the tools with which to do the job. 

Whether delivered through on the job training, external courses or the increasingly popular blended learning pathway, continuous and continual development has to take place if a true innovation culture is to infuse the organisation. Every time we engage in improvement we open up pathways in our brains and every fresh pathway carries with it the potential for innovation. To quote Dr Seuss;

The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.” 

It’s no secret that business leaders are open to the idea of innovation. In fact an Accenture report in 2013 revealed that 93% of executives cite their ability to innovate as crucial to their long-term success. But the same survey revealed that less than one in five believe that their innovation strategy is delivering the competitive advantage that they are looking for. Even more disturbing is the results from another new survey by ?What If! that revealed 58% of business leaders in large UK companies admit their senior teams are failing to effectively lead for innovation and 53% of UK executives say their board often talks about innovation, but nobody seams clear what it means.”

So, if there’s not enough top-team clarity about innovation it’s not difficult to see why senior teams find it difficult to build innovation into organisational culture. Innovation is not just the preserve of the few. That’s called a silo! Creating an innovation culture, which changes what exists today or creates something new in order to drive differentiation, competitive advantage, enhanced business performance and growth requires an ‘organisation-wide’ culture change. Nothing is sacred as silo mentalities; jobs-worths and over-complex processes are swept away in a desire to create exceptional customer experiences.

My task as an innovation expert and that of my innovation consultancy team is to help to guide organisations onto fresh pathways. This includes helping senior teams start in the right place by formulating innovation strategies and communicating them across the organisation. Often this requires senior teams learning new skills and adopting different behaviours. But unless the entire workforce is also encouraged to learn, to develop and to embrace adaption then all of the preparation will be in vain. 

CPD, continuing professional development is not just a box tick, nor is it a drag. Rather it is a vital component in creating an innovation culture; delivering enhanced business performance and exceptional customer experiences from what I call a ‘Next Generation Organisation’ i.e. one geared up not just to stay ahead of the game but able to change it!

Everyone says they want or need to drive innovation-led, enhanced business performance and growth but few actually do. If you want to be one of the few and you’ve got a question, ask Cris on or visit for more information.

Author Profile Picture
Cris Beswick

Author, Speaker + Strategic Advisor on Innovation

Read more from Cris Beswick

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