Viewpoints on Innovation

Chronic Problem #7: Lack of Skills

Consumer Goods High Technology Industrial Manufacturing Medical Device Pharmaceutical Chief Innovation Officer

A lack of key technical and commercial skills represents a chronic problem in our ability to deliver business results from innovation. We differentiate the issue of the overloaded pipeline from a lack of key skills. One is a function of aggregate capacity, the other is specific to the knowledge, experience and capabilities of the people you rely on to execute the process of development and commercialization.

Companies that downsized and stopped hiring over the past few years have created these acute shortages for themselves. In many industrial manufacturers we have a real generational problem with a majority of technical resources beyond the retirement eligibility age. The revolving door of retirees immediately returning as contractors is a symptom of this problem. The institutional knowledge possessed by these people will be almost impossible to replace.

The STEM education gap in the United States is often reported, and typically viewed through the lens of high tech companies that want to hire large number of engineers and scientists. There is a broader skill gap across all functions of innovation in every industry, not just high tech. We not only need more skilled graduates, we need companies that are committed to hiring and developing them throughout their careers. That was the approach that created the great people that are leaving the workforce now.

Identifying the skills that are going to be critical to your future innovation success is the first step in addressing skill set shortages. A commitment to hire, train, and develop people is the only sustainable solution. 

Originally published on 

More In This Series

Seven Chronic Problems

Chronic Problem #1: Lack of a Strategy

Chronic Problem #2: Lack of Alignment

Chronic Problem #3: Overloaded Pipeline

Chronic Problem #4: Rampant Incrementalism

Chronic Problem #5: Unclear Accountability

Chronic Problem #6: Short-term Orientation

Chronic Problem #7: Lack of Skills

Originally published on July 24th, 2014

What's your view? Add your question or comment

Topics: Bill Poston, Business Results, Career Development, Chief Innovation Officer, Commercialization, Hiring, Human Resources, Innovation, Process Development, Technical Skills, Training

About the Author

Bill Poston

Bill Poston

For the past 30 years, Bill has helped executives in technology-driven industries transform their competencies to deliver results. He is a highly regarded consultant, speaker, and writer on the topics of innovation strategy, product development, portfolio management, technology commercialization, and the software systems that enable innovation. Keep up with Bill's latest research and thoughts on innovation and the rising role of the Chief Innovation Officer at
More Viewpoints by Bill Poston

What's Your View?

comments powered by Disqus

Don't miss future posts.
Get Viewpoints Digests delivered right to your inbox.

Subscribe Now Leave me alone