Creating a supportive work environment brings out the best employee behavior, fosters innovation and prepares a business for change. Professor, Costas Markides joins Oslo Business Forum and poses the question: How can leaders create a supportive environment?
Costas Markides, a professor at the London Business School and a renowned strategy and innovation leader, is live on stage at Oslo Business Forum to share his knowledge on implementing innovation within your team and change management.
According to Markides, the tremendous changes the world has gone through in just a few years, has shifted the way people think, work, shop and relate to each other. In the business world profound changes has flipped the strategy:
- From hierarchical systems to people networks
- From fixed pricing to dynamic pricing
- From mass marketing to customized marketing
- From traditional strategies to platform strategies
- From closed innovation to open innovation
More changes are coming
Markides stresses that we have not seen it all and that most disruptions are yet to come. He points to technology, where we still need to witness and adjust to the full potential of these systems, including: artificial intelligence, robotics, nano-materials, machine learning and virtual reality, which will require new business models.
Today’s transformations are picking up speed. People like to anticipate but preparing for continuous disruption will be challenging.
“We need to institutionalize the attitudes and behaviors that will make us effective in responding to whatever disruption hits us."
During his talk, Markides entertained the audience with a 200-year-old math exercise, which was originally given to 10-year-old children. Back then, an extraordinary math whiz, Carl Friedrich Gauss, solved this particular exercise in one minute.
The problem seemed impossible to solve at such a speed, but Gauss quickly applied his own approach to solve it, by grouping numbers. With this anecdote, he highlights that innovation is not something that just happens, rather, it is a by-product of thinking differently.
People need to learn how to question and challenge the status quo, to think outside the box, to experiment without fear of failure, cross pollinate and take responsibility, says Markides. Considering these many factors it is clear that innovation does not happen as a given to everyone every day.
Let ideas flow
Markides points out that challenges follow innovation, because having the idea is one thing, but implementing it is another. A great deal of agility is needed, but even a simple idea or solution can meet challenges on the road to implementation, he says. This is because people do not behave as a smooth mechanism, so disruption hits.
Employee behavior is changeable and depends on many factors, where Markides refers to a few: cultural, values, company structures, processes, reviews, incentives and attitudes. But when a supporting internal environment is created it is more likely to foster innovation and agility to implementation. He refers to three key steps:
- Instil and encourage behavior that promotes innovation and company agility
- Build an environment that supports innovation-making behavior
- Involve all levels of employees - innovation is not limited to top management
Markides concludes that it is not enough to ask people how to work, and that desired attitudes and behaviors should be established as the norm in a company culture, which will maximize the response to innovation.