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  We will help you grow through innovation and entrepreneurship.

The Psychology of Innovation

Innovation is a key lever for growth in the commercial world. However, across all organizations, whether commercial or in the public, education or third sectors, innovation can create tangible gains in productivity, service provision and cost reduction.

Innovation is sometimes viewed as being all about new technology. But just as often it is about creating new services, processes or business models as well as products. It is sometimes viewed as equivalent to Creativity. While this is an important step in the overall process, much of the heavy lifting in innovation concerns the hard work and attention to detail required by implementation. We provide consultancy, for individuals and organizations, to enhance performance at all stages of the innovation process.

The Psychology of Innovation

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Innovation is a significant lever for growth in commercial organisations and for boosting efficiency in private, third and public sector organizations.

Some people confuse innovation with creativity. Although important, idea generation is but one step on the overall innovation journey. Much has to happen between the spark of an idea popping into someone's head and a product or service making a tangible impact on peoples' lives. We can help you in each of the following steps to innovation:

Key Process Areas of Innovation

  • Idea generation. There are several approaches superior to traditional brainstorming.
  • Idea evaluation. This is where critical and strategic thinking and an understanding of consumer behaviour come to the fore.
  • Idea development. Taking an idea and building on it.
  • Securing the resources i.e. convincing those with the power and finance to provide funding. It is also important to secure other resources such as tools and skills.
  • Design. Taking an idea, considering the myriad ways it can be brought to life and selecting the best way. We use ideas from 'design thinking' such as expanding, funnelling and iterating.
  • Implementation i.e. making the idea happen. There is a mass of overlooked creativity involved in solving the problems that inevitably emerge at this stage. It is at this stage where the so-called 'conventional' activities of analysis, planning, organization, people management, quality management and execution take place. But it is these activities which often make the difference between whether an innovation succeeds or fails.
  • Dissemination i.e. encouraging people to use the innovation.

Psychology has something to offer at each step. In addition we provide:

Assessment for Innovation

We will carry out a diagnosis of the state of innovation in your organization using a variety of tools.

Innovation Potential. We produce measures of innovation potential for individuals. This tool produces a profile of each individual's capabilities at each stage of the innovation process. It enables you to identify which people in your organization have particular skills (e.g. idea generators, idea connectors, idea evaluators, people connectors, people with the practical skills to turn ideas into reality and those who have the organizational skills to bring projects high in risk and uncertainty to a successful outcome). It covers personality characteristics such as openness to experience and conscientiousness as well as competencies.

The data can be aggregated to produce an innovation map at the enterprise level, highlighting strengths and gaps in innovation capability.

Innovation Capability Maturity Model. What is the state of innovation within your organization? Some organizations are more capable in this field than others. A Capability Maturity Model defines levels of formalisation and optimisation, which indicate maturity. Our model does not directly follow the Carnegie Mellon approach which was originally developed to assess software engineering and emphasises formality of process. Our model attempts to capture levels of maturity in a more fluid domain where creative problem solving is more important than bureaucracy.

Our model comprises Maturity Levels, Key Process Areas (see above), the Goals of the key process areas, and Key Practices.

Maturity Levels:

  • Level 0: No innovation. There is little or no investment in new products, systems or processes.
  • Level 1: Haphazard innovation. It is reactive or fashion following, ad hoc, piecemeal, underinvested in terms of capital and skills, and poorly managed.
  • Level 2: Initial innovation. Stirrings of awareness of how to innovate on a more repeatable basis.
  • Level 3: Strategic innovation. At this level a more strategic approach to innovation is taken. People are explicitly tasked with pushing innovation forward, and there are greater levels of analysis, focus on process, risk management, documentation and planning.
  • Level 4: Committed innovation. Innovation has become part of the standard operating model of the organization. There are clear goals (e.g. at least a third of revenue coming from products developed within the last three years) and metrics (e.g. the number of new projects initiated and completed successfully). There is benchmarking against other organizations etc.
  • Level 5: Optimizing. At this level innovation is deeply ingrained in the organizational culture. However, reaching this stage is not seen as some kind of nirvana where everyone can sit back and relax. Reaching this stage means that it is acknowledged throughout the organization that innovation is the key driver of growth. There is a continuous effort to learn from experience and keep raising the performance bar.

Key Practices include:

  • Allocating time to employees to develop innovative ideas.
  • Rewards for idea generation.
  • Environmental scanning.
  • Benchmarking of innovative success.

Innovation Audit. This is an assessment based on interviews and focus groups, intended to identify the blockages to innovation in your organization. These may include, for example, lack of knowledge of consumer needs or the competitive landscape, internal competition for resources etc.

Culture Survey. This is intended to identify the organization's propensity for innovation. It covers factors such as attitudes to risk, power, failure and knowledge.

Working with Innovators

As a result of assessments we can create insight about individuals and the organization as a whole. We can then work through the wide range of actions an organization can take to build a sustainable innovation capability e.g.

  • Using market research to gain a greater understanding of customer needs.
  • Using competitor intelligence to gain a greater understanding of potential threats.
  • Using improved brainstorming techniques to generate ideas.
  • Using design thinking to improve product development.
  • Setting up project teams to test out ideas quickly, i.e. running low cost, low risk, high potential return trials, pilots and experiments.
  • Introducing or upgrading corporate culture to support innovation.
  • Finding finance.

We then move on to initiatives to build growth through the application of ideas.

The Psychology of Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurs are sometimes viewed as great innovators. But an entrepreneurial mind-set is broader than that. It is about identifying and seizing opportunities as well as taking measured risks. It is also about ownership and being freed from the constraints of the corporate world. We provide help to individuals considering setting up in business, as well as seasoned entrepreneurs. We also help existing organizations become more entrepreneurial. This includes:

Learning to cope with the stresses and high pressure demands.

Becoming more effective in problem solving and decision making.

Building and motivating winning teams.

Building an entrepreneurial culture.

The Psychology of Entrepreneurship

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We work with Entrepreneurs to help achieve their goals.


We will assess an individual's business and interpersonal skills from an entrepreneurial perspective. It is similar to our leadership assessment in that it entails personality and motivation questionnaires, 360-degree feedback and interviews. This particular process also includes a bespoke entrepreneurial capability questionnaire.

Individual Coaching.

Following the assessment we explore strengths, development areas and particular problems the individual faces. One topic that sometimes emerges is the conflict between the entrepreneur's strong drive for independence and control, versus the need in business to co-operate and share responsibility. This can lead to pressure and stress if the individual is unwilling to delegate and trust others. Other examples include scaling up and handling complexity, coping with setbacks, coping with anxiety, securing finance, improving one's attitude to risk, dealing with difficult people etc.

Team Coaching.

We work with teams operating in an entrepreneurial environment. This entails observation, analysing strengths and weaknesses and analysing group dynamics. We collect data by interview, observation, using individual psychometrics and team questionnaires. Interventions can involve workshops (e.g. to define a team charter), individual coaching and team coaching.

Building an Entrepreneurial Culture.

This entails assessment of existing attitudes, values and processes followed by workshops and other interventions to introduce new modes of working.

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Oxford Business Psychology 2022