Psychology of innovation is the lifeblood of any successful organisation, the research I did on teams showed that a team’s innovation succeeds on the people it brings together. Ideally from a diverse group of people bringing in a diverse perspective.
The thing is not everyone is equally good at generating new ideas or implementing them. What are the psychological factors that influence innovation? And how can we foster a culture of innovation in our teams and organisations?
According to recent research, there are four main psychological constructs that affect innovation: vision, participative safety, climate for excellence, and norms of and support for innovation. These constructs can be used to predict the quantity and quality of innovation at work, as well as the motivation and satisfaction of innovators.
- Vision is so important. I feel when we understand the overall vision of the leader or organisation, we can pull out our creative think. I’ve worked in places where the vision was at best blurry. So, I really found it was harder to innovate there. Vision refers to the shared understanding of the goals and direction of the organisation, and the alignment of individual and organisational values. A clear and compelling vision can inspire creativity and innovation by providing a sense of purpose and meaning. Also – and very importantly a vision also helps to filter out irrelevant or distracting information and focus on the most important problems and opportunities.
- Participative safety I’ve discussed previously on these blogs around psychological safety. This is the extent to which team members feel free to express their opinions, share their ideas, and take risks without fear of criticism or rejection. A high level of participative safety can foster a climate of trust, openness, and collaboration, which are essential for innovation. Participative safety also encourages learning from failures and feedback, which can improve the quality and effectiveness of innovation.
- Climate for excellence is an interesting one. Because we don’t innovate in a vacuum. The climate (or environment) around us is essential. Climate is the degree to which team members have high standards of performance and strive for excellence in their work. A high climate for excellence can stimulate innovation by creating a sense of challenge and competition, and by rewarding innovation outcomes. Climate for excellence also promotes continuous improvement and innovation by encouraging team members to seek new knowledge and skills, and to apply them to their work.
- Norms of and support for innovation – this fourth one is something we don’t discuss enough of I believe. If we feel that the organisation is supportive of ideas, then we can progress. A firm I once worked in was so focused on only the leadership being innovative it stifled all other people to be innovative. They didn’t think it was their place to be creative. Norms are the shared expectations and behaviours that support and facilitate innovation in the organisation. Norms of innovation include the willingness to experiment, to question the status quo, and to embrace change. Support for innovation includes the availability of resources, time, and recognition for innovation activities. Norms and support for innovation can enhance the quantity and quality of innovation by creating a positive and supportive environment for innovators.
These four psychological constructs can be influenced by various factors, such as leadership, culture, structure, and processes. I’m of the view that by understanding and applying the psychology of innovation, we can create the conditions that enable innovation to flourish in our organisations.
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Blog by Dr Naeema Pasha