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Research Report from UK's Innovation Foundation NESTA about Everyday Innovation(Extract)_Characteristics and Behaviours for Innovative Working_English to Chinese_Chinese Translation_20100212_1-1

 
Part 3: Characteristics and behaviours for innovative working
 
solving and motivation are the top three characteristics for innovative working Our literature review10 explores the association between innovation and employee behaviours and characteristics such as the influence of cognitive ability, personality, motivation, knowledge, behaviour, and emotion and mood states. Key messages from the review are:
 
    Intelligence is a necessary but not sufficient condition for innovation. Although cognitive ability is related to innovation, it does not account for a large amount of the variance observed in employee innovation.
 
    The most common personality trait associated with innovation is openness to experience. Conscientiousness is found to be a negative predictor of innovation, notably in the case of being dutiful and methodical. The influence of other personality traits (e.g. extraversion) is domain/context-dependent.
 
    Motivation is one of the most important predictors of innovative working.
Management style significantly influences employee motivation to innovate. Innovative people are intrinsically motivated by change such that extrinsic rewards do not necessarily enhance innovative working.
 
    Domain-specific knowledge is a key human resource for innovation in organisations.
 
    Studies focusing on the employee behaviours associated with innovation highlight personal initiative, proactivity and social competence.
 
    The association between mood and innovation is complex and requires further investigation. Emotional intelligence might be an important requisite for innovation but this is still relatively unexplored. Research literature shows that personal initiative and motivation contribute to innovation, particularly in relation to the implementation of ideas. Some characteristics and behaviours are more effective or desirable at different phases of the innovation cycle.13 As shown in Table 1, these findings were confirmed in the survey where respondents ranked motivation or personal initiative as one of the top three employee behaviours contributing to innovative working. This is confirmed by our interviewees. “Risk taking, resilience, motivation, and imagination are the key characteristics of individual innovators” (Robert Farace, National Resourcing Manager at the NHS Institute for Innovation). Openness to ideas is one of the most important individual characteristics for innovation,14 which was confirmed in our survey with six out of ten respondents ranking openness amongst the top three individual contributors to innovative working in their organisation (see Table 1). Derek Smith, CEO at UBS Service centre says: “open mindedness, a willingness to share ideas, and to adapt and develop are at the core of employee innovation”. Many of our interviewees recognise the value of resilience for successful innovation. “Bringing an idea to the market is one of the most difficult aspects of innovating” (Jurij Paraszczak, Director of IBM Industry Solutions, New York. Successful innovators must be skilful at making their case when trying to overcome the barriers that often come between the development of a good idea and its implementation. Resilience, persistence, personal initiative, and communication skills are especially important in the context of innovation in large, bureaucratic organisations, where barriers to innovation are more manifest. “Employees’ ability to communicate their ideas successfully is also crucial for innovation. If the case for an idea is not made sufficiently well, the idea will not be taken forward” (Mike Addison, Open Innovator, Procter & Gamble). Alistair Leathwood (FreshMinds’ Managing Director), says that “confident people tend to innovate”. This concurs with research evidence showing self-efficacy to be positively associated with innovative behaviours. (See also the work on young people and characteristics by Chell and Athayde). This was confirmed again in our survey, where three in ten respondents listed self-belief/confidence among the top three employee characteristics that contribute to innovative working in their organisation. The word ‘courage’ was used regularly in our interviews as a key characteristic particularly for those leading innovation. The research literature consistently shows intelligence is a necessary but not sufficient condition for innovative working.  The evidence from our survey and interviews also supports this. Two aspects of cognitive ability, problem solving and strategic thinking, were endorsed by 50 per cent and 35 per cent of our survey respondents respectively, to be amongst the top three individual contributors to innovative working in organisations (see Table 1). There are differences observed according to sector and job complexity for example, the level of knowledge for biotechnology R&D roles will be significantly different from those required in lesser skilled jobs.
 
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