When organizations first experiment with innovation, they tend to be anxious. They are unsure of the unknowns. What has to change? How can we measure the return? What does Innovation even mean? How do we do it? Etc.

 

Given the libraries full of case studies of the power of innovation and the many books and articles, you may suspect that they would be prepared.

Yet, you can no better prepare for the changes your organization will have to undergo to be truly innovative than you can prepare for how falling in love may change you personally.

Many grasp for understanding. They seek a tool, a method, a process, a framework, anything that helps them relate the mystery of innovation to their known way of working.

While process and tools are vital ingredients in an innovation discipline, what really matters in the success of an innovation effort are the mindsets an organization must adopt.

As the old saying points out, you cannot solve the problem with the same mind that created it. Therefore, we always embrace an exercise to clear up old mindsets and orthodoxies and then get sign off on a host of critical mindsets for innovation. Think of this preliminary work as washing your hair and picking out your best clothes to prepare for an important first date. This pre-work matters.

The first mindset is fostering a sense of radical collaboration, meaning that we all work in multidisciplinary teams and that we explore ideas, insights, and concepts fearlessly as equal team members.

This mindset defies a typical top-down corporate approach to communication and serves to empower all team members to add their passion and voice to a project during the front end of innovation phase of the work.

Under radical collaboration no one will "pull rank" and everyone will listen respectfully to one another; hence the word "radical."

The second critical mindset is a bias for action. This mindsets allows us to push testable concepts and prototypes to consumers and customers quickly and inexpensively to get feedback before we manufacture a product or launch a service.

The constant feedback loop ensures we are creating something of value, something desired by the market. Once there is ample market feedback, the same bias for action inspires the in-market pilot and actual launch of an innovative product or service.

While using a mix of best practice innovation methods is preferred, the primary and most effective methodology is known as Design Thinking, which is a proven framework for creating breakthrough innovation.

Real innovations that make major traction in the market solve problems people didn't know they had. They begin with understanding where others are coming from, what they are trying to do, and where the needs and gaps are in the market for the particular task or experience.

Next, we follow an iterative process and at the end, we reap substantial rewards.

But the second rule of finance comes into play: No risk, no reward. By practicing these mindsets organizations can have better odds when taking a risk to reap a reward.  

Published on: Dec 4, 2017
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.