The Battle for Innovation Talent
New technologies and inventions are shaping today’s global economic landscape and shaping the way people live today. The pace of innovation has accelerated many times over the past two decades. Although the pandemic years have slowed the upward trend of innovation a bit, it is still very high and is gradually regaining lost ground.
In 2022, the number of patent applications filed in the U.S. alone rose for the fifth consecutive year, reaching a record 418,000. Analysts of the Global Innovation Index of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) predict two powerful innovation waves: a wave based on supercomputing technologies, artificial intelligence, and automation; and a wave of “deep science” based on breakthroughs in biotechnology, nanotechnology, creation of new materials and other areas designed to transform four key areas for humanity: health care, food, environment, and mobility.
However, the effect of these waves will only manifest itself once the barriers to technology adoption and diffusion have been overcome. This requires people of a special mind and character, with a unique set of hard and soft skills and exceptional cross-functional expertise. Such professionals will be more and more in demand in the labor market, and the talent attraction departments of major companies are already looking for them.
How successful experts in this field, who create patents like hotcakes, are created, we traced the example of the life and professional path of Vyacheslav An, general manager in the development and implementation of innovations in cosmetology, on whose account are five patents in his native country, and now the process of obtaining a patent in the United States.
Passion for innovation starts in the family
No matter which side of the debate you’re on about whether nature or nurture is more important in personal development, it’s hard not to agree that combining these factors yields the best results. Vyacheslav was born into the family of an inventor who was involved in developments for the automobile industry and, by the end of his career, had more than 20 inventor certificates. His childhood was spent in a scientific town for inventors near Novosibirsk, where the spirit of research and daring scientific experiments was in the air. The school also paid great attention to the development of students’ desire to experiment and find innovative solutions to complex problems.
Swim or Drown
There is no better way to learn how to do something than – just do it. The immersion process can be less stressful through dual education or internships, or it can be as stressful as possible through instant immersion in a new set of responsibilities with a rigid need to perform at your best. Either way, practice is the key to success.
In 1991, Vyacheslav found himself in the waves of change with two perspectives available – to drown or to learn to swim in an environment of total innovation. For ten years, Mr. An worked with coal and gold mining companies and worked his way up from an ordinary worker to a manager. It was a time when the old Soviet enterprise had to be “put on new rails” to keep up with the emerging market economy. The large-scale transformation of the company under conditions of constant external changes, volatility, inflation, and all sorts of social upheavals was an unforgettable training in the development and implementation of innovations at all levels of the organization. This required self-discipline and iron willpower, but Vyacheslav saw change as an opportunity rather than a challenge. This approach helped him earn a reputation as a responsible and, at the same time, enterprising manager for whom there are no impossible tasks.
Effective innovation practices work everywhere
In 2005 Vyacheslav had to test his talent as a manager and innovator in a completely different area – aesthetic medicine. He had to breathe new life and energy into the clinic “Charm,” which was a success in Novosibirsk, but the management system, product policy, staff management, information, financial security, and much more required rethinking and reorganization.
The new project has proved – effective practices and approaches to develop and implement innovations work in any business environment. People are an important part of the success of any business. That is why working with personnel is always in the spotlight. A new system of competency-based assessment, which passes all applicants in the recruiting process, helps to attract to the clinic only those experts who correspond to the company’s values, such as client-centeredness, leadership, and innovation.
The integrated system of personnel development allows the clinic to use the latest inventions in the industry and generate innovations. A personal development map has been designed for each employee with the highest potential, which includes improvement of technical skills, so-called hard skills (mastering of new technologies in plastic surgery, aesthetic dermatology, and anti-aging therapy, use of innovative drugs and hardware treatment, modern diagnostic methods, protocols, etc.), and soft skills (active listening, empathy, critical thinking, time management, stress resistance, and more).
Another important step in the staff development program is a specially designed course of psychology for experts in the field of aesthetic surgery and cosmetology, which takes into account the peculiarities of psychological reactions and states of patients during and after procedures in the rehabilitation process. This allowed for increasing the level of customer satisfaction by 67% in the first six months of the program, and the number of repeat visits increased by 310%.
Vyacheslav also implemented a mentoring, mentoring, and learning-by-doing program, where less experienced clinic experts learn from more experienced colleagues during the work process. Everyone benefits from this approach: patients receive better service, doctors feel less pressure when consulting with their colleagues, and the clinic receives more income from loyal and regular clients who gladly recommend services to their acquaintances.
For a group of experts with high potential, An Vyacheslav introduced a mandatory course of public appearances, which increased the media presence of the “Charm” clinic in the media through numerous interviews and analytical articles prepared with the participation of the clinic’s doctors. PR clinic has been allowed more than three times to reduce the advertising budget without losing the company’s recognition level.
Also, the improvement of public speaking skills of clinic doctors has allowed them to open a new direction of activity – a training center of professional cosmetology, “Charm,” where doctors of clinics carry out training.
Another important step was the correction of the clinic’s range of services and implementation of innovative world methods, which increased the clinic’s income by 112% for the year.
Inventions and patents
Creating in the team an atmosphere of trust, respect, and cooperation, access to modern professional knowledge, the latest developments in the field of cosmeceuticals, hardware, injection, thread and other procedures, aesthetic and plastic surgery, significantly increased the motivation of staff to the collective development of new ideas, techniques, and approaches. Thanks to this, the clinic “Charm” today has five patents registered in Russia, including “Method of removal of subcutaneous fat in the shoulder,” “Method of blepharoplasty,” and three patents on “Method of combined liposuction.”
“When introducing innovations, I am used to relying not on subjective opinion but on data, research results, and evidence. We harmonized the range of aesthetic medicine procedures with attention to the most demanded procedures by patients, which include blepharoplasty and combined liposuction. After all, for most patients seeking aesthetic surgery, the most pressing problem is the correction of gravitational changes in the lower third of the face, which is often accompanied by excessive fat deposits in the submental area, – says Vyacheslav An. – At the same time, a study of patient preferences showed that the extensive range of existing aesthetic surgery and apparatus cosmetology methods still needs to satisfy patients’ requirements fully. Clients preferred minimally invasive procedures under local anesthesia with a short rehabilitation period and a fast-lasting effect. Clients also preferred a small number of procedures and minimal dietary and water-salt requirements after the procedure. This resulted in a new liposuction technique that resulted in a patent.”
Based on this data and the available arsenal of aesthetic medicine, the design team of the clinic “Charm,” headed by Vyacheslav, began to develop a unique selling proposition and, at the same time – a protocol for the correction of excessive fat deposits in the lower third of the face.
Painstaking scientific research and practical work resulted in the “Method of Combined Liposuction” patent. The project team opted for the laser liposuction method, whose advantages include skin retraction due to the formation of new collagen, reduction of intraoperative and postoperative bleeding, and reduction of the adipocyte population, which allows maintaining the result for many years.
This is just one of five patents now registered by the clinic in collaboration with the institution’s leading surgeons. This particular invention has been selected to receive a patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office – the corresponding application has been filed for spring 2022.
There will be no conclusions
The job market already needs more experts in innovative design and implementation with years of proven experience. According to the Global Innovation Index in 2022, the most innovative economies in the world are Switzerland, the United States, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands, while China is close to the top ten. Other emerging market economies, including India and Turkey, continue to perform well, among the top 40 for the first time.
This means that competition for talent in these countries will be particularly intense. Changing educational programs to train more experts in innovation, re-training managers from other areas, or attracting ready-made experts from other countries – whatever tactics in attracting talent the country chooses, it was necessary to start this process yesterday to be competitive on the world stage tomorrow.