In previous posts, I discussed the role of a leader in innovation and the traits of successful innovators, but I have not explored the motivation behind getting people involved in innovation. I am fascinated by people’s behaviours and why they do what they do. Before I get too far into this, I must state that I am not a behavioural scientist, so this is a practical view from my experience in the field.

As any line manager will have experienced, your staff are not machines; everyone is unique in reaction, thought and views.

What will you do for love?

So why is this relevant to innovation? It is very easy to forget that someone will have a different view from yourself, and so potentially, think or act differently in same situation. An idea is simply solving a problem or exploiting an opportunity, and so if I want someone to consider my problem and suggest an idea, I need to identify what will make them do this.

Does anybody do anything for nothing? I believe that there is always a motivation for doing something, be it consciously or subconsciously. I have identified nine motivators that are intrinsic to somebody taking any decision or activity.

1. Love – of a person, object or outcome

2. For the glory – appealing to the competitive nature and the desire to be the best

3. Identity – it is what someone is known for or wants to be known for

4. Pride – to be able to boast of what has been achieved

5. Reward – driven by the incentive offered for potential activity

6. Self-satisfaction – could also be termed as enjoyment, believing that activity is doing good

7. Fear (or the “big stick”) – fear of a person, outcome or potential situation

8. Empowerment – having the opportunity to influence, shape or determine the outcome

9. Duty – involved and active because it is expected of a role or position

What's the prize?
What’s the prize?

The real skill is not identifying these motivators, but what mix to use to successfully drive activity and behaviours from a group. It is obviously far easier to identify what motivates an individual than a group or crowd, so you must use a mix of motivators that will engage the majority of your target group. It is rare that this will be 100% “on the money”, but as you recognise what factors are in play, you begin to learn what works best with certain types of people in different circumstances.

Innovation is not just about having ideas, it is about implementing those ideas to create new value. Therefore, both ideators and implementors need to be motivated, so a different mix could well be needed for these different people groups and situations.

This may seem manipulative, and to some it will be, but I believe it is part of being self-aware and emotionally intelligent. Humans do this naturally and unconsciously, and so we need to be aware and consciously use these motivators to increase the success of our innovation programs.