(Extract from ‘Innovation Mindset’ A License to Innovate)
What is ‘mindset’ and why is it important?
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:
- The real challenge of innovation lies beyond the idea. As Thomas Edison said, “Genius is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration.”
- 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.
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.”3
That’s why we recommend a broader approach that focusses on mindset. It can include all your workforce and produces ongoing innovation and improvement. This approach encourages all employees to find ways to constantly review what they do and how they do it, to create better solutions for the customer and the organisation. This requires a different approach to work for most people―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.
Innovation Mindset and Tools
Innovation Mindset does not recommend any one set of tools―it is tool agnostic.
Our experience confirms that innovation can come from unexpected places—from your day-to-day work, from a routine project or from an informal chat. Because it is not confined to specialist “innovation” projects, any number of tools and techniques might work. It’s not the tools you use, it’s how you use them.
Our definition of being innovative is “helping innovation happen”. Use the framework to explore your own experience and discover your mindset strengths and areas for improvement.
How did you contribute to the idea implementation?
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.
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, by 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 to 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.
Mindset & Your Team Behaviours
The best idea in the world will fail if it is not supported by positive behaviours from you and others in your team. You may not have consciously thought about these behaviours before. By making them explicit and naming them, you can make an effort to practice them and that will result 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 passion for the project? Did you persevere to drive through to a positive conclusion?
Resilient—Did you bounce back after a set back? 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.
3 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)