question to innovate

What specific behaviors should be rewarded to drive innovation?

question to innovate

This is the tenth of a series of weekly posts where I will answer a few common questions about innovation. Please feel free to add your own response. Also, if you have any questions you think we should discuss, let me know.

Organization get the behaviors they reward. And this is especially true when it comes to innovation. Let’s suppose you want to become more innovative (who doesn’t?), where would you start? Everyone will start at the front end of ideation. But before you go there, ask yourself these questions:

  • What would encourage people to share their ideas?
  • What would encourage them to act innovatively?

The answer: trust.

It takes time to build trust. The best performing teams base their success on trust. And when trust exists, all the necessary innovation breeding behaviors start to show up. What are these behaviors? A freedom to fail, collaboration, experimentation, risk-taking, self-expression.

Back to the question at hand: What specific behaviors should be rewarded to drive innovation?

Any of the above, a freedom to fail, collaboration, experimentation, risk-taking, self-expression, would work. But more specifically, what do these rewards look like?

Here are a few ideas:

  • Fail Better Award. You could give this monthly award to any person who took risks in getting a new client or pushed forward on a new initiative.
  • 10% new growth bonus. You can give this bonus to the team that helps establish a new non-core business. If that new business reaches a specific sales goal, the team gets a 10% bonues.
  • Innovation Excellence Award. You can award this to a person or team that took on a known company challenge that helped the organization delight customers better than before.

Innovation doesn’t happen without experimentation

The point is you can get creative and come up with all kinds of ideas on how to reward people or teams who go above and beyond. Remember, because innovation is a risky proposition for most, you must reward behaviors not outcomes. This sends a signal to the person or team that the “how” is more important than the “what”.

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Jorge Jedi Master

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  • Great post Jorge!

    The two behaviours that best drive innovation to my mind are BRAVERY and NURTURING

    1. Creativity and Bravery have long been soul mates. Even at the most simple level, a new idea represents a new connection, something that hasn’t been put together before. It requires the creative person to stand up and dare to be different. As Seneca stated “It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that things are different”.

    To make this real a company could initiate the “Babe Ruth” annual award. This could be awarded to the team that ‘fails’ the best or could be an honour roll for projects that dont get through the busoness. It is about doing the right thing and celebrating the endeavour!

    2. It is one thing creating a supportive environment for people to share ideas but more importantly, NURTURING is about building stronger ideas. In business, ideas rarely come from a single flash of inspiration – they need to be built and developed. Without this creativity can feel like fun, but ultimately a wasteful indulgence, because the ideas lack development, their potential never revealed.

    To make this real a company can build a physical GREENHOUSE where ideas can be submitted and a ‘SWAT’ team can come in and help the project team understand the potential and build better concepts.

    Look forward to future challenges!

    • Hi Mark,

      AWESOME answer! I liked the “labels” you use. Their “sticky and visceral”.

      You got me thinking, and that is good 🙂

      P.S. When are you launching your blog?



      • Thanks for the compliments Jorge. Will launch in the New Year (I am compiling the website now). The blog will be called LOVEOLOGY which is about inspiring love in the workplace everyday through making the realm of human endeavour more productive and more fulfilling.

        The three areas that I will focus on are:

        1. Creating stories that resonate with purpose and passion
        2. Building creative confidence of every employee
        3. Making innovation everyone’s job.

        In terms of inspiration for blogs I can look no further than you! Keep stimulating our minds



        • Cool! Thank you. It sounds like a great idea (much needed) and concept. Look forward to it 😉

          Have read Teresa Amabile’s recent work on making innovation everyone’s job? – Aka The Progress Principle:



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