What are the cultural factors that organisations need in order to foster innovative thinking? What is important for the development of innovative youth practices from the perspective of organisational cultures? What does research say about this? These questions were tackled at the fourth #EAYW Webinar “Cultures of Innovation”! 


The fourth #EAYW Webinar kicked-off with optional 20 minutes of well-being activities, which was led by embodiment trainer Sandra Gojić. Through a series of small activities, we became more prepared and focused for the forthcoming discussions on cultures of innovation within organisations.


As a quick warm-up, our facilitators Anita Silva and Darko Marković asked participants to share with five words on what makes an organisation. The results were different, and words included: people, team, purpose (vision), shared values, communication, collaboration and strategy. When asking participants to share what makes organisations innovative, diverse words were mentioned, such as: open mind, being ready to make mistakes, curiosity, playfulness, idealism, shared vision, commitment, cooperation with young people, courage, imagination…


Referring further to organisational factors that support innovation, Dragan Atanasov, one of the EAYW researchers, presented the most important findings from the recently published EAYW Study on Innovation in Youth Work.


Three out of the top five conditions that support innovation are connected with innovation. The most important are that organisations provide a frame, space and adequate time for creativity and innovation. Second, the organisation needs to support experimentation and a space to fail without consequences. Third, organisations should nurture a culture of sharing.”, Dragan explained. He also highlighted that two important factors that make the biggest difference in how organisations are positioning themselves towards innovation are structures (hierarchy) and size of the community. Organisations that are more hierarchical were reporting more difficulties with innovation. Organisations that work in small communities seemed to value more strongly inputs from outside the organisation.


Graphic recording by Mireille van Bremen


Following the input by Dragan, we had the pleasure to listen to a presentation by Carlos Azevedo, President of the Board of Directors and CEO at IES-Social Business School and founder and former president of the Board of Directors of ESLIDER-PORTUGAL – National Network for Civil Society Leaders.

To kick-off his input, Carlos presented sources of value creation and innovation within organisations: The first is connected with creating value for beneficiaries, the second is having talent, the third is related to how organisations are dealing with resources; and the fourth is the ecosystem surrounding the organisations, and how organisations find partnerships and opportunities. “Organisations need to change different things in order to innovate. They need to decentralise leadership and try to overcome how organisations are governed and change the founder syndrome, which influences innovation.”, Carlos unerlined.


He also presented a four-step process for innovation within organisations:

  • Step 1: Questioning the organisational orthodoxies (questioning what has already been done in the same way forever). Some of the questions you can ask yourself are the following: Which orthodoxies are present in our organisation? And what I will never hear someone say about my organisation? Which of these orthodoxies can become opportunities? 
  • Step 2: Beneficiaries are sources of innovation and we need to empathize with them. Some questions are: What does my beneficiary listen to, what do they see, why do they do? This can be a valuable source for innovation.
  • Step 3: Looking at your own organisation: look at your assets (infrastructure), technology, process (e.g. methodology), skills (e.g. working with young people). This is valuable for innovation, as it can be used to reproduce it for other target groups.
  • Step 4: Look at the trends. If you don’t notice them, you can miss the opportunity for innovation.


If you are interested to download the presentation of
Carlos Azavedo, click the Download button above.


At the end, participants reflected on what they could take away with them of what they had heard at the webinar. With the help of the facilitators, they connected the theory with practice.

To get a better impression of the most important findings, we warmly recommend you take a look at the beautiful image that our graphic recorder Mireille van Bremen drew after the webinar HERE or check it out in the picture above.


Scan the QR code to
access the registration form!

This Webinar provided the opportunity for participants to become aware of and exchange on how organisational cultures can support innovation. Interested to join us at the next and last Webinar? It will happen on 21 April 2022, from 9.30 to 12.00 CET on the topic “Ecosystems for Innovation”. Find more and register HERE, or simply scan the QR code on the right side. See you there!