How should innovators not behave?

[Originally published on the Australian Government Public Sector Innovation Network under a Creative Commons 3.0 BY AU licence]

A couple of weeks ago we asked how do innovators behave? We received some good responses and some suggested reading material, but we’re keen to hear from more people, so we thought we’d look at this from a different angle.

How should innovators not behave? How do leaders who inhibit innovation behave?

If you want people to support something, it’s important to focus on the positive behaviours that you want to see, not those that detract or inhibit.

However, if we want to articulate just what those positive behaviours are, maybe we need to be clear first about the behaviours that we don’t want to inadvertently encourage.

Are there behaviours from senior people that you have found have worked against innovation?

Are there behaviours that you’ve demonstrated that have worked against you when trying to do something innovative?

A behaviour that I have been guilty of is not always giving others time and space to respond to a new idea. Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in an idea and want to get moving on it straight away. However if the idea is new, and especially for relevant decision makers, people may need time to get their head around it, to work out what they think, and whether they can see it working or not. Pushing for a response too quickly can simply push people into a default position against an idea.

Of course, on the flip side, I’ve had interactions with decision makers who haven’t given clear feedback about why they are against an idea. Or who have indicated support on the surface but then acted in a way that indicated their support was … less than fulsome.

What about you? What are the behaviours that you have found can harm your efforts at innovation (both by yourself and from other people/leaders)?