Innovation Mindset

What is ‘Mindset’ and why is it important?​

When starting on the innovation journey, many organisations focus on idea generation and team methods to quickly implement new ideas. They often find that while they get lots of ideas, it doesn’t result in a long-term, sustainable approach to innovation. They find that:

  1. The real challenge of innovation lies beyond the idea. As Thomas Edison said, “Genius is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration.”
  2. Using innovation tools and techniques alone does not guarantee an innovative outcome and does not ensure the successful introduction and adoption of ideas across the organisation.
Innovation Mindset

The Ontario Public Service recognised this:

We realised that our program was founded on the drive to innovate rather than the crucial foundation of embedding a culture that supports innovation. While many ‘quick wins’ and short-term outputs can be accrued, innovation is not likely to be sustainable… That lasting transformative change requires not just resources and support but a working environment and a workforce that has an intrinsic culturally embedded understanding and appreciation of innovation.”*

That’s why we recommend a broader approach that focuses on mindset. It can include all your workforce and produces ongoing innovation and improvement. This approach encourages all employees to constantly review what they do and how they do it to create better solutions for the customer and the organisation. For most people, this requires a different approach to work ― not only performing job roles but also constantly improving and being open to change. While some employees may find this uncomfortable, when they recognise they have the opportunity and ability to have more control over their work, most employees will feel more satisfied and engaged.

Hargraves Innovator Awards at Sydney Trains

Innovation Mindset and Tools

Innovation Mindset does not recommend any one set of tools ― it is tool agnostic.

Our experience is that innovation can come from unexpected places — your day-to-day work, a routine project or an informal chat. Because it’s not confined to specialist “innovation” roles, people or projects, any number of tools and techniques might work. It’s not the tools you use; it’s how you use them.

At Hargraves, when we talk about being innovative, we mean “helping innovation happen” – and we all do it. The key is to understand the part you play by discovering your innovation mindset and strengths and building on them.

Use the Innovation Mindset framework below to reflect on your own experience and discover your mindset strengths and areas for improvement.

Hargraves' Innovation Mindset Framework

Mindset & Team Behaviours

The best idea in the world will fail if it is not supported by positive behaviours from everyone in the team. By making these behaviours explicit and naming them, team members can make an effort to practice them, resulting in greater innovation and improvement in your workplace.

How did you contribute to the team dynamic and its success? Reflect on your behaviours. Were you:

Open-minded―Did you encourage ideas and help build on them? Were you open to learning, to different points of view?

Curious—Did you ask good, open questions to explore new solutions? Did you look outside your environment to see how others did things?

Imaginative—Did you come up with novel suggestions to help improve the idea? Did you visualise the future, the customer, a new product or service?

Helpful—Were you generous with your time and efforts? Did you do more than you had to?

Attentive—Did you notice things that others missed that helped the idea? Did you really listen and pay attention?

Brave—Did you really examine your assumptions to ensure you understood the problem? Did you challenge the assumptions of the team? Did you reframe problems?

Empathic—Did you put yourself into the shoes of others to understand what would work? Did you help resolve conflict in the team?

Trustworthy—Were you reliable? Did you give credit? Did you do what you said you would?

Proactive—Did you take the initiative to progress the idea? Did you anticipate events and problems? Did you accelerate the process?

Gritty—Did you display a passion for the project? Did you persevere to drive through to a positive conclusion?

Resilient—Did you bounce back after a setback? Did you adapt to new circumstances when it was necessary?

Other—Are there other strengths you displayed?

Choose one or two that were critical to the success of the idea and/or the team.

What's Your Role In Innovation?

Contrary to popular opinion, innovators can play a range of roles in the innovation/improvement process. That means that every one of us has a valuable role to play. Most of us can play multiple roles; however, we typically have only one or two real strengths.

How did you contribute to the idea implementation?

Reflect and select what you as an individual contributed to the realisation of the idea. Were you a:

Finder—Did you notice the gap, find the opportunity or present the challenge? Did you observe that the customer had a problem?

Creator—Did you contribute the main solution or add new elements to the solution that made it work? Did you imagine what would work for the customer? Did you experiment?

Peer—Did you contribute by being a sounding board, listening well, asking the right questions and providing encouragement?

Expert—Did you provide technical expertise that was important to realising the idea?

Connector—Did you introduce new research, insights, people or outside companies that helped develop the idea?

Doer—Did you get things moving and help organise the trial, the prototype, the customer input?

Influencer—Did you help the team get the funds and opportunities needed to progress the idea? Did you lead the team and help it achieve its goals?

Critic—Did you provide constructive feedback to make the idea more practicable?

Other—Did you play another part in the team?

Choose one or two that represent your strongest contribution.

By morning tea, I felt my 6 hour round trip had paid off. A great mix of tools to help individuals and teams think differently and innovate more effectively.

BlueScope Steel

Innovation is not about ‘thinking outside the box’ but capturing and nurturing the ideas that are already there.

Department of Finance

A fantastic interactive day, learnt some great new techniques for improving team performance and innovation.

Catholic Healthcare

I’ve read heaps of articles on innovation, doing this workshop made it all gel and I could see how I can ‘do’ innovation in my day to day job.

Department of Human Services

Innovation Mindset Training

Discover your role in helping innovation happen

In this highly interactive workshop, participants explore the various attributes of mindset, identify their individual strengths and contribution to innovation, and learn how to improve through better habits and tools. 

An Innovation Mindset Workshop is perfect for anyone who contributes to or promotes continuous innovation and improvement in their work roles, including:

  • Anyone who wants to learn how to identify opportunities to do things better and understand their role in making innovation happen.
  • Leaders who are responsible for helping innovation happen in their team or building innovation culture in their team or organisation.


No experience necessary. 

Innovation Mindset
Download the brochure

Innovation Mindset: Modules


Developing an innovation mindset
  • Explore the elements of an innovation
  • Analyse your story to discover your
    mindset strengths.
  • What drives innovation and change in
    your workplace?


Innovation Conversation
  • Explore SEE THINK DO – a process for thinking through ideas.
  • Learn how to apply interpersonal skills to have positive conversations with colleagues to develop innovation.


Innovation Culture & Collaboration
  • Explore processes and systems for building an innovation culture.
  • Learn what others have done to change the culture.
  • Identify opportunities for change in your workplace.


Make Change Happen
  • Apply the tools (Innovation Conversation Sheet) to develop a change concept.
  • Develop a plan for change in your workplace.

Follow Up

Project & Pitching

Participants will be encouraged to undertake a project to embed learnings. With an optional follow-up session to hone your project and develop your pitch.

Hargraves’ Innovation Mindset framework is built on 20 years of experience helping leaders and individuals identify how, where and innovation is happening in their team or organisation.

The Hargraves Innovator Awards recognise people with an innovative mindset who ‘make innovation happen’ in their everyday roles.

*Shah, K U & Prokopec, K. (2011). Organizational Transformation through Employee Driven Innovation: The Ontario Public Service Ideas and Innovation Program, Commonwealth Association for Public Administration and Management (CAPAM)

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