Gartner Research

The Psychology of Serial Innovation

Published: 01 March 2013

ID: G00250852

Analyst(s): Jackie Fenn, Mary Mesaglio


Innovators are not necessarily born that way; they can be made if given the right psychological boosts from their leaders. By applying psychology, leaders can gain the edge needed for successful serial innovation — that is, innovation that occurs repeatedly in an enterprise.

Table Of Contents


Executive Summary

  • The biggest barriers to innovation are psychological
  • Stimulate people to innovate with the psychology of motivation
  • Keep innovation going with the psychology of momentum
  • Adopt a psychology action plan for innovation success

The Biggest Barriers to Innovation are Psychological

  • Innovation and psychology are intimately linked
  • People are natural innovators, but only under the right circumstances
  • The psychological factors most important to innovation are also those that leaders can influence
  • Practice the psychology of motivation and momentum

Stimulate People to Innovate With the Psychology Of Motivation

  • Motivating innovation requires purpose, expectations, security and identity
  • Purpose: Choose a goal and make it provocative
  • Case Study: RHB Bank adopts a mindset of speed to make “instant banking” a reality
  • Case Study: The Toronto Transit Commission innovates with a purpose
  • Expectations: Tell your people you expect them to innovate, and show that you mean it
  • Security: Make the environment safe for people to be creative and take a risk
  • Case Study: InsuranceCo finds value in every innovative idea
  • Identity: Make innovation a point of pride by appealing to group and individual aspirations
  • Case Study: Chip Heath, coauthor of “Switch,” on the power of identity
  • Tactics and best practices to improve motivation

Keep Innovation Going With the Psychology of Momentum

  • Innovation momentum requires attention, habit, engagement and community
  • Attention: Design momentum psychology into your innovation process
  • Habit: Make innovation routine
  • Engagement: Make innovation 10 times easier and more fun than anything else
  • Case Study: Boa Vista Serviços maintains momentum with virtual currency
  • Community: Make innovation go viral
  • Tactics and best practices to improve momentum

Adopt a Psychology Action Plan for Innovation Success

  • Take the first step
  • Apply innovation psychology to common problems as they arise
  • Conclusion

Further Reading

  • Related content
  • Gartner Executive Programs reports
  • Core research
  • Books
  • Articles

©2020 Gartner, Inc. and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved. Gartner is a registered trademark of Gartner, Inc. and its affiliates. This publication may not be reproduced or distributed in any form without Gartner’s prior written permission. It consists of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization, which should not be construed as statements of fact. While the information contained in this publication has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, Gartner disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of such information. Although Gartner research may address legal and financial issues, Gartner does not provide legal or investment advice and its research should not be construed or used as such. Your access and use of this publication are governed by Gartner’s Usage Policy. Gartner prides itself on its reputation for independence and objectivity. Its research is produced independently by its research organization without input or influence from any third party. For further information, see Guiding Principles on Independence and Objectivity.

Already have a Gartner Account?

Become a client

Learn how to access this content as a Gartner client.