About Nesta

Nesta is an innovation foundation. For us, innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better. We use our expertise, skills and funding in areas where there are big challenges facing society.

Charity Innovation: personal qualities of the open innovator

Nesta and 100%Open have been working with 10 UK charities to explore ways of opening up their working practices to encourage open innovation.

We found out lots about the organisational culture needed to make change happen and Nesta has produced a blog series with the team at 100%Open who coached the projects.

The blogs distil some practical tips and insights gained through working with the charities, many of which involved designing a new web service or digital platform.

Instigators of change

However, what also interested us was the behaviour and personal qualities of the individuals who tended to lead innovation processes within their charities. These individuals are really important instigators of change, so we created a visual reminder of this to help identify the behaviours and personal qualities that we saw in many of those trying to make change happen from within their own organisations.

(Click on the image below to view full size)

The open innovator:

  1. is resilient: Keeps on persevering when adversity strikes. Doesn’t take criticism to heart but instead uses it to improve ideas
  2. breaks the rules: just because something is done in a particular way now; why should it always be like that?
  3. embraces technology: is keen to learn and try using new technology to improve or disrupt existing ways of doing things
  4. demonstrates bravery: a person who can show their weaknesses and doubts when trying something new is taking personal risk and showing bravery by example
  5. shares risk and reward: embraces working with partners to jointly take measured risks and to share rewards fairly
  6. looks forward: is always keen to see the bigger picture and move forward with that in mind instead of focusing on regrets
  7. prototypes: uses ways of testing out ideas before they are fully invested in financially or reputationally
  8. nurtures new ideas: provides support and cover for colleagues and staff to test ideas before revealing them to others.

Of course, an individual can't make things change on their own, and the rest of the blog series focuses on the organisational culture change that needs to happen and some techniques and tips around nurturing that change.

Browse the blog series or download the whole series as a booklet.


Alice Casey

Alice Casey

Alice Casey

Head of New Operating Models

Alice led on a portfolio of work looking at how technology is transforming communities and civic life.

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Roland Harwood

Roland Harwood is co-founder of multi-award winning open innovation agency 100%Open. He is also a compulsive connector, lapsed physicist, father of 3, failed astronaut, piano player, a…