Innovation Strategy: Fostering Strategic Innovation Using Mindsets

November 9, 2022

by Pam Boney


Staying agile in a world that is constantly changing can be a daunting task. The ever-increasing speed at which technology moves has rapidly increased the speed of innovation and can make that challenge feel even more elusive. AI’s recent introduction in the work environment has increased efficiency to a point that seemed unachievable just a few short years ago. But with every innovation, there is a trade-off. 

How do we maintain our pace? How do we stay relevant, ahead of the curve, and not wind up left behind or obsolete? Cultivating the proper growth mindset could be one way to help us avoid feeling overwhelmed and learning about innovation strategies can help us stay ahead of the curve.

What Is Innovation Strategy?

Mass Challenge defines innovation strategy as a “plan of structured steps a person or team must perform to achieve the growth and future sustainability goals of an organization.” Whether you are an individual building a product innovation strategy or a team leader building a business innovation strategy, it is important to establish an innovation strategy plan that allows you to stay agile and keep up with fast-changing environments.

Learning how to remain agile in the presence of innovation often hinges on having the correct mindset. There are many different types of mindsets, such as open mindsets, closed mindsets, and innovation mindsets. Below are mindset details that can help reframe the way you approach innovation and develop an innovative strategy plan.

10 Innovation Mindsets

According to TopClass, there are ten traits that frame an innovative mindset: Creative Curiosity, Analytical Curiosity, Empathy, Experimentation, Inclusivity, Courage, Common Vision, Collaboration, Long Term Commitment to Innovation, and Agility. With the exception of agility (which is having the ability to switch between mindsets on command–the ultimate goal of Tilt’s coaching that leads to generativity), each of these traits corresponds to the sub-personas of Tilt’s personality types that are diametrically opposite. 

  1. Creative Curiosity pairs with the Inventor (which is categorized by creativity), and is directly opposite from the Investigator (which is categorized by perspective), which pairs with Analytical Curiosity. 
  2. Empathy pairs with the Humanitarian (which is categorized by empathy), and is directly opposite from the Explorer (which is categorized by boldness) that pairs with Experimentation. 
  3. Inclusivity pairs with the Counselor (which is categorized by trust), and is directly opposite from the Champion (which is categorized by confidence), which pairs with Courage. 
  4. Common Vision and Collaboration pair with the Visionary and the Ideator (which are categorized by inspiration and openness), which are directly opposite the Scholar and the Architect (which are categorized by focus and diligence) that pair with a Long Term Commitment to Innovation. 

As Tilt recognizes 12 sub-personas, the two that are absent from the list above are the Entertainer and the Guardian (which are categorized by likability and integrity, respectively), and they are both directly opposite each other in the Tilt Model. 

The ability to switch between any of these opposing sub-personas/mindsets at will requires agility. In order to foster an innovation mindset that leads to generativity, one must first master an agile personality. This makes it possible to balance all opposing mindsets instead of favoring specific mindsets at the expense of others that are opposite in the Tilt Model. This is the basis of growth versus a fixed mindset. 

Being Open to Change vs Being Closed to It

When we consider the challenge of keeping up with innovation, it can feel daunting. The recent introduction of AI is poised to create a massive shift in how we work. Continued advancements will drastically expand what we can accomplish and the speed at which those tasks are achievable. The possibilities are endless, but the flip side, however, is that now we must find ways to adapt to ever-changing technology if we are to stay ahead of the curve.

If history is any indication of what we can expect, those who adapt quickly and embrace the new technology will fare well. Conversely, those who are slow to adapt or resist change may find themselves facing a much steeper challenge. As these advancements become the new norm, AI will likely become more integrated into our daily workflow. How do we keep up? Our mindset can play a significant role in our ability to adapt, learn new things, and avoid feeling overwhelmed. 

Growth vs Fixed Mindset

When thinking about "mindsets," most people tend to focus on the fixed vs. growth mindsets dichotomy. Fixed mindsets entail an assumption that a personal attribute will not change. For example:  I stick to what I'm good at, I am who I am and that’s who I will always be, or I could never learn that because it’s way too difficult

Growth mindsets, on the other hand,  involve an assumption that a personal attribute is malleable. For example:  I can be who I want to be, I’m capable of learning new things, or people can grow. Of course, there are many variations of mindsets, and it’s not just one or the other, but you can see how the flexibility of growth mindsets can be a tremendous asset, especially when it comes to adapting to change.

Long before the computer revolution, the graphic design industry functioned very differently from how it does currently. Large teams of people toiled over minute tasks that took forever (by the standards we are used to now). But when desktop publishing was first introduced, it shook the industry to its core, and very quickly, everything changed. 

Those who embraced the change were able to reap the rewards: They were branded as leaders and pioneers on the cutting edge of a new trend, but a large part of the art community resisted the changes. There was an outcry from the traditionalists. “A computer can not create art, art was meant to be created by the skilled hands of an artist, I can not learn something new, I’ve spent too many years perfecting my craft.”

Many artists and designers attempted to cling to tradition and the skills they had worked a lifetime to develop. Those who leaned toward a growth mindset were able to adapt to the new world and its demands. Cultivating an open or growth mindset is fundamental to accepting change and the unknown. Those with growth mindsets were able to view their situation as an opportunity, overcome their fears, and embrace change. When faced with challenges, they viewed change not as a threat or an impossibility but instead as an opportunity to expand their knowledge, improve their skills, and use innovation to advance. Those with a fixed mindset dug in and refused to adapt, and for a time, they were ok, but as technology advanced even further, it caused the two sides to increasingly diverge until many of the skills those artists clung to became obsolete. 

As they struggled to adapt, they found that now the path forward was much more challenging. The longer they waited, the steeper the learning curve, and the steeper the learning curve, the less motivated they were to overcome it. Their unwillingness to accept change simply meant the world moved forward without them. 

Transitions are never easy, but awareness and understanding are key. When you look to the future, what role do you see for yourself? Do you cringe in fear, or are you open to learning and change? Which mindset do you adopt when facing a difficult challenge or feeling stressed? If you’re not sure, here is an excellent article about What Are Mindsets, and Why Do They Matter? by Amanda Valone that may help you gain a better understanding. 

Using Generativity to Foster Strategic Innovation

You have just read through the various types of mindsets and how they can have an impact on your approach to innovation. While there are many different types of mindsets, agility can help you not just pick one mindset but shift mindsets as appropriate, based on context. 

There is one last mindset that can be invaluable to choose from, and it is called the generative mindset

A generative mindset is similar to an agile mindset because it allows the person to consciously choose which mindsets are most beneficial in a given situation. But it goes beyond an agile mindset because it becomes wired into the brain over time, training and expanding the ways one can think and how one chooses to act. In this case, the focus transcends the self-focused ego in favor of what serves a greater purpose or the common good.  

Someone with an agile mindset is more focused on what is situationally appropriate for them and others, but someone with a generative mindset has a broader focus on what would have the best long-term benefit for society. Such a  mindset requires the individual to have a large contextual view of the world and to make decisions that might even have a negative short-term impact yet serves the greater good long term.

To learn more about Erickson’s Generativity and how to foster a more open and innovative mindset, we highly recommend that you start by understanding more about yourself. Learning more about your strengths and blind spots can help you not only understand who you are, but also why you do what you do. The Tilt365's strengths assessment helps you learn about your personality pattern and grow beyond a personality type via exposure to the 12 Tilt 365 character strengths. Embodying those 12 character strengths will help you develop a generative mindset.