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This week I experienced something really cool. My new Inventium home in Sydney, is right next to my old office at Deloitte (we’re neighbours now guys!). Taking advantage of my new found proximity to old colleagues, my first Friday night in a new city was spent ‘nerd-ing-out’ with Jo Rhoden on John Hagel’s new research about unlocking the passion of the explorer. 

The most important thing about these ‘explorers’, is that they are the ones in the organisation who are eager to innovate – to voluntarily change things for the better.

As Jo told me more about these explorers, I found my internal monologue running through dozens of examples where I had seen these passionate innovators in action through the work Inventium does with clients. What struck me was that the ratio of employee efforts towards innovation was not equal to its recognition.

Research from Professor Teresa Amabile at Harvard University has shown that recognition plays an important role in creating a culture where innovation thrives. When people are recognised (in public or private), the level of innovation in people’s work rises significantly. The reason why this is so important, is that it sets people up to be intrinsically motivated, rather than extrinsically (e.g. through financial rewards or prizes). We want people to be intrinsically motivated as typically this is the more enduring form of motivation.

There are many ways you can provide recognition to your organisations’ most passionate innovators. Here are a few ways to start:

  1. Provide the platform – have a regular meeting for people to share the efforts they are making towards innovation. Set the session up with the purpose of sharing and recognition.
  2. Encourage peer to peer recognition – innovation award programs are not uncommon, however the decision is typically made by someone senior in the organisation. Create opportunities that will encourage peer to peer recognition that can happen for the little things and happen more than just once or twice a year.
  3. Give recognition when it’s due, not when it’s due (ahh the English language). What I mean by this, is provide recognition to people whenever they have made efforts towards innovation, not just when it’s scheduled in the calendar.

If you’re eager to find out more about recognition (trust me, there’s heaps!), check out chapter 3 of ‘The Innovation Formula’ by Dr Amantha Imber. For more interesting stuff on intrinsic/extrinsic motivation, check this out.

If you have any questions, comments, or a story to share about recognition I’d love to hear from you. You can find me on email: [email protected] and on Twitter: @fasttrackjudy. For now, have a great week!