Posted by: Katherine Raleigh
Programme Manager on Wed 18 Mar

At KnowledgeBrief’s Innovation Day, Professor Victor Newman, University of Greenwich, focused on the real point of leverage for building an innovation culture: the behaviour of the individual within the workforce.

Culture is a behavioural system that either enables or blocks innovative behaviours. The classic solution to culture change is to bring in consultants – yet this outside-in approach can wrap people in processes and techniques. While innovation processes are helpful, people are more useful than techniques. To change an organisation’s innovation culture, leaders should first modify their own behaviours.

Behaviours fall into three categories:

  1. ‘Can do’ (in-control/powerful): These individuals are innovative and opportunity seekers, who often have to carry others in the workplace
  2. ‘Can’t do’ (out-of-control/helpless): These individuals are cynical and exhibit learned helplessness
  3. ‘Won’t do’ (over-controlling/defensive): These people are highly controlling micromanagers and reinforce the ‘can’t do’ behaviours

Only 13 per cent of the workforce have “can do” behaviours, but these behaviours are essential in supporting innovation. The majority of behaviours in the workplace fall into the “won’t do” (63%) or “can’t do” (24%) category – these ‘wasteful behaviours’ have a negative impact on building innovation in the workplace.

Organisations often unknowingly tolerate behavioural waste. However, organisations need to raise people’s self-awareness of their wasteful behaviours and aim to clear out the negative, destructive behaviours that currently prevent firms from achieving their purpose. By first focusing people on reducing behavioural waste, firms can create the space that people need to adapt and innovate.

Participants included Airbus, Cafcass, Kent County Council, and Virgin Atlantic.

Next, this group will be discussing how to Lead, Manage and Motivate Behaviour to Drive Innovation. For more information and to join, please view the event page.

Leaders must first modify their own behaviours to unlock the capacity for innovation.

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