INNOVATION vs DATING: Episode #1 – Can people really change?


INNOVATION vs DATING: Episode #1 – Can people really change?



Hi, I’m Astrid. I’m an organisational psychologist who specialises in anything innovation, and I’m single. Now, these two things might seem unrelated, but as you’ll see in this series, I assure you they’re not.

Episode #1: Can people really change?

For a while I dated a guy, let’s call him Joe, who was an incredibly bad kisser. Now I understand that kissing is something that happens between two people and that it is the match that creates the magic, but believe me – this was the next level. I’ve never experienced anything like it. He also lived with his mum, but that’s a whole other issue. I started dating him just after my mum had convinced me I was being way too hard on all these lovely men (she wants grandchildren), so I decided to stick it out and to change (fix) him.

Changing people, or, at an organisational level, changing the organisational culture is a conversation I have with our clients all the time. Is the organisation in trouble? Just change the culture! Is it not innovative enough? Just tell people it is now safe to fail! If only it worked like that – if only it were that simple. An organisational culture is not something you change in a vacuum. Telling people they should now behave or think differently has very little effect. The culture of your organisation is the result of something (typically many things); it is an output, not an input. So, in order to change your culture into a more innovative one, you need to create the right drivers and get rid of the blockers that are getting in the way of delivering the culture you want. Here are a few thought starters to get you going:

  1. The notion that “culture eats strategy for breakfast” (which is persistently incorrectly attributed to the late Peter Drucker) creates a false dichotomy of sorts. In fact, changing your culture into a more innovative one starts with strategy. Think about what you are trying to achieve – what is your goal? Why do you need innovation and where should it be focused?
  2. Think about the structures and processes you need in place to deliver on this strategy. What are your reward systems like? How do you measure performance? You need to create the conditions that allow your people to change their behaviour, to be empowered and be innovative.
  3. The ability of people to innovate successfully is underpinned by a set of skills which can (and needs to) be learned. Building capability in the right areas and creating a common language around innovation as part of the organisational culture will be critical to your success.

As for Joe? He is a changed man and we have been happily married for the last 3 years. No, I’m joking. It didn’t work out between me and Mr. Bad Kiss. I did try! I guess I should have known. If only he were an organisation. Sorry mum, no grandkids just yet.

I’m always up for a chat about innovation (or dating!), so if you have any thoughts or questions, let me know at

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