The Best Motivation for Innovation is ‘Being in Flow’
An important topic in Innovation Management is that of motivation. What kind of incentives can an organization provide to stimulate innovation? Bengt Järrehult argues that there is no such thing as extrinsic motivation and we should really concern ourselves with working in Flow.
Incentives for innovation is a hot issue. Personally I am of the opinion that we cannot distinguish between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation for innovation, simply because there is no such thing as extrinsic motivation. When we refer to extrinsic motivation in the form of monetary rewards, for example “if you do this – you will get that much” we are simply talking about replacement for real motivation, and that is intrinsic motivation – the joy we feel when seeing our dreams come true – also called Flow. Today I will dwell a bit more on what Flow is and how it can affect your attitude towards work. For those especially interested in this topic – look for the books Creativity & Flow by Mihalyi Csikszenmihalyi and The Box by Micael Dahlén.
Being in the Flow area is, I think, the best reward you can get for what you are doing and it seems that the closer you are to the stress area, the more rewarding you feel it is. However, be well aware of the signals your body is telling you when you reach the Stress area. You might visit this area occasionally – but ensure you are not there longer periods. These warning signals could be:
- You wake up at 04:30 a.m., can’t fall asleep again….. and you think of issues in your job,
- You get a pain between your shoulders (due to tense muscles),
- You get stomach pain or you get easily irritated.
What you can do is to find out what your warning signals are, and in what order they come, to keep yourself within the Flow area, not staying in the Stress area for too long. Back off in time. If you reach the Boredom area, it is up to you to look for a better challenge as soon as possible. You are in charge!
By Bengt Järrehult
About the author
Bengt Järrehult is Fellow Scientist Innovation at SCA, a global hygiene products and paper company. He is also adjunct professor and visiting professor resp. at 2 departments of Lund University in Sweden. He is an avid reader of and presenter on the topics of innovation, especially on breakthrough innovation and the psychological hurdles that exist to achieve this, hurdles that we may or may not be aware of. He is of the opinion that most companies more or less know what to do to become more innovative. What they don’t know is what really hinders them from doing these measures…