The psychology of innovation – what we’ve learnt at The Economist conference

October 3, our Head of PR & Communications, Caroline Hoffmann, was invited to The Economist conference in London.

A day of learning, debating and networking, organised in the heart of London at the Royal Institute of British Architects.

One topic particularly interested Caroline: “The Psychology of Innovation”, run by Dr. Brian Marien, Founder & Director at Positive Group.

Here is her outtake (keep in mind that everything is scientifically proven):

 

Being emotional hacks your thinking

When we are emotionally affected by a subject, a situation, it changes the way we feel, think and behave.

Why? Because emotional regulation shifts when we are stressed. 

Emotions drive all the thinking and can prevent us from thinking rationally, clearly and being open to other people’s opinions.

Stress changes the circuits of the brain and drives negative emotions. It can make us doubt, feel unconfident, incapable, worthless.

 

You’re never too old to change the way you think

Good news, you can change the way your brain thinks, it is not as it is forever!

Thinking differently can be taught. If your brain is more amenable when we’re young, it remains amenable throughout your life. It means that no matter how old you are, you can teach your brain to think positively and regulate your emotions.

 

Be optimistic and you’ll live longer

Optimists live longer – it’s proven! 

I remember seeing a documentary about the power of smiling. Some scientists experimented how smiling could change our moods and, in a nutshell, they found out that smiling was obviously, a result of feeling happy, but that also smiling, as a cause, could result in making you feel happy. Indeed, if you make yourself smile more often, you’ll feel happier. It can feel weird at first, but actually smiling and laughing “easily” is like any other exercise; it takes practice!

Don’t wait to spread some good vibes and from now on, always see the glass half full and laugh at your colleagues’ jokes!

 

What does it have to do with innovation?

All kinds of innovation are stressful. Whether it is a new product, a new technology, a new management process or new hiring, stress can easily make us feel uncomfortable.

Here are a few examples:

A new product can lead us to be close-minded: “We’ve done it this way in my family for generations, why should we change now?”. Another way of seeing the situation would be: “Maybe this new product could make us more efficient, productive, profitable, and starts a new air of our family finally embracing technology.”

A new management process can make us feel upset and think negatively: “The company has been acquired by this big group. They’re going to merge our teams. I don’t want to talk to these guys who think they are better than us and impose us their ways of working.”. Another way of thinking would be: “I’m glad we’re merging the teams. We’re going to have even more incredible talents, learn new things and will smash our annual goals!”

New hiring could make you feel insecure: “Why did they hire this woman? She’s already got some of my missions and it’s only been a week. What’s next, taking my job?”. Another way of looking at the situation would be: “I’m glad they hired her! She’s doing some of my work so now I have more time to focus on innovative ways to improve my processes.”

 

MarketOrders’ opinion

The last decade has seen companies coming up with many ways to improve employees’ happiness at work. Free food, gym, parties, stunning offices, and team building activities; it all sounds lovely, but isn’t it a bit superficial? Is that really improving employees’ fulfilment?

At MarketOrders, we believe that people can only feel comfortable and thrive in a company if they feel they matter. What does that mean? It means being able to speak openly, being listened to, having their voice heard. It also means having your work and efforts recognised and praised, and your successes and achievements celebrated, no matter how small.

 

Innovation always brings downsides. We should be able to understand them, monitor them and take actions.

Understand how the brain functions and reacts to innovation will help it flourish. Leaders have to be aware of the psychology of behaviour and make sure their employees are feeling comfortable, listened, and happy.

Do you have an opinion? Anything you’d like to add? We’d love to hear it in the comments below!

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