Jos Dirkx explains how to unleash the power of great ideas


The keynote speaker for CHRO Day 2023 shared ways to foster innovation with HR leaders.

CHRO Day 2023 brought together HR leaders from various industries to explore the theme of reimagining prosperity in the workplace. Among the distinguished speakers was Jos Dirkx, an acclaimed author and World Economic Forum tech pioneer.

In her keynote speech titled, “Why great ideas die: A how-to guide for 21st century innovation,” she shed light on the importance of great ideas, how they often remain unrealised, and what HR leaders can do to foster innovation in their organisations.

The challenge of realising great ideas

Jos began her address by acknowledging the kindness, warmth, and resilience of South Africans. However, she noted that despite the abundance of great ideas within the country, many of them fail to materialise.

The missing link, according to Jos, lies in practical innovation. She urged HR leaders to move beyond mere contemplation of innovative ideas and instead focus on implementation strategies. By emphasising the core elements of leadership, connecting with collective intelligence, and aligning expectations with reality, organisations can create an environment conducive to turning great ideas into reality.

Designing a business that works

To create a thriving business, Jos stressed the importance of understanding the fundamental principles of your organisation. By grasping the intricacies of your business, you can better navigate the challenges of innovation.

She introduced the formula for team success: (state + mindset) + momentum × alignment with intention/psychology safety. The ‘X factor’ that makes a team unique and powerful should be identified and nurtured, she explained. By leveraging these principles, HR leaders can create a cohesive and empowered workforce that is capable of driving innovation forward.

The role of AI in the changing world of work

Jos emphasised that work has undergone significant transformations due to the pandemic, evolution, and the rise of AI. AI presents a plethora of opportunities for small teams, and HR leaders should embrace it as a tool for hiring and decision-making processes.
The evolving landscape demands 21st-century skills for the wellbeing, sustainability, and prosperity of any company,” she noted. However, existing systems often hinder the effective use of these skills. Jos advocated for change management practices that can identify skill gaps and enable non-traditional hiring approaches to match the expectations of the evolving work environment.

Harnessing collective innovation

In a rapidly changing world, Jos highlighted the need to tap into collective innovation and ideas. By fostering an inclusive workplace environment that values and embraces great ideas, organisations can stay ahead of the curve.
She identified four elements in the problem-solving toolbox: what we know, what we perceive, how we solve, and how we connect. HR leaders need to deepen and widen each aspect to encourage cross-functional collaboration and leverage diverse skill sets. This multifaceted approach ensures organisations have the necessary tools to tackle complex challenges and drive innovation.

Practical applications of AI in HR

AI presents HR leaders with a unique opportunity to supplement their skills and simplify tasks. Jos highlighted the various ways AI can be integrated into HR practices, including data consolidation, leveraging dispersed dashboards, and streamlining administrative tasks.
By engaging with AI tools, HR professionals can support their teams more effectively, enhance company culture, and create space for mental health and well-being. Jos advised HR leaders to consider employing a chief AI strategist to guide them in navigating the AI landscape and capitalising on its potential.

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