Team embracing change
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Change is usually as difficult as it is inevitable. Effective leaders need to combine science with intuition to prepare their organization and its people to succeed in an age of disruption. Essential techniques to create a change-embracing culture include identifying “intrapreneurship,” encouraging curiosity and rewarding innovation.

Identify “intrapreneurs”

An “intrapreneur” is an employee who behaves like an entrepreneur while working within an organization. The qualities that define an intrapreneur include risk-tolerance, passion, optimism and an abundance of resourcefulness combined with the ability to collaborate rather than compete.

As change is driven by emerging technologies and disruptive business models, intrapreneurial employees at the operational frontline have a valuable contribution to ensure the organization is fighting fit. Identifying intrapreneurs—even those who challenge the status quo with uncomfortable questions—helps to unleash innovation within an organization by asking why processes exist and how to make them better. Resourceful leaders go beyond just identifying people with the intrapreneurial potential by encouraging curiosity and rewarding innovation.

Encourage curiosity

Curiosity is essential to the problem-solving attitude that leads an employee to think: “How can this process or product be improved?” A management concept emerging alongside the Intellectual Quotient (IQ) and Emotional Quotient (EQ) is the Curiosity Quotient (CQ) which measures an individual’s inquisitiveness and openness to new experiences. While some people are innately more curious than others, curiosity can be encouraged by the right culture – and discouraged with the wrong approach.

Leaders can develop their CQ – and that of their team members – by asking a lot of questions, examining feedback to ensure the “big picture” makes sense, by looking for new experiences outside of the “comfort zone,” and by seeking to understand the “why” rather than just the “what” of events. Encouraging curiosity is the start of a new culture in which employees sprout new ideas that can bring abundant rewards in the future.

Reward innovation

When ideas are presented, recognizing those contributions will cultivate a curious and creative corporate culture. Acknowledging an individual or team whose idea may have triggered an innovative process or improved product can increase loyalty and reduce staff turnover. This positive reinforcement also encourages and motivates other employees to offer new ideas that might benefit the company. The SCARF model –an acronym for Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relations and Fairness – is a motivational theory developed by neuro-leadership advocate Dr. David Rock. He theorizes that the brain’s evolutionary tendency to maximize rewards and minimize threats for primary needs, such as food, water and safety also applies to social needs.

This model proposes that individuals anticipating a reward will exhibit clearer thinking, generate more insightful ideas and adopt a wider view with fewer errors. By contrast, members who feel threatened will exhibit poorer memory, a reduced view and lean towards pessimism. Recognition is a vital part of the innovation success cycle and is relatively effortless. An example of this is the practice of “ringing the bell” to celebrate both individual and company achievements which is a simple technique to communicate and reinforce corporate values. Identifying internal innovators, nurturing a culture of curiosity and acknowledging employees who contribute good ideas are three valuable steps to building a creative corporate culture in order to equip organizations to navigate a future filled with disruption.