If a person is not innovative with self, can she be innovative in an organization?

Good question from yesterday’s post:

The process of innovation is full of highs and lows and requires people to stretch themselves beyond their comfort zone so I think it depends on a . It basically comes down to mindset, Carol Dweck has written extensively about how there are people with a . If you look around you’ll see that we’re mostly surrounded by people with fixed mindsets, people who are afraid to be wrong and make mistakes. Where innovation requires a learning disposition, people with fixed mindsets have a hard time accepting the idea that ‘.

What we need to do is come to a collective understanding that failure will happen along the journey of any new initiative and , this way we can change the perception of failure from ‘failing to learning’.

Below is Professor Carol Dweck explaining the difference between a growth and fixed mindset:

P.S Be sure to click on the links (), it’s stuff I’ve written about before as well as ideas taken from elsewhere but they all come back to the growth vs fixed mindset.

I look forward to your thoughts Smile

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  • Great response Jorge.

    I agree it is a mindset, moreover IMHO I believe you can let your actions control thoughts. For centuries we have been letting out thoughts control our actions. We were fortunate to have a psychologist, William James arrive proclaiming “your actions can control your thoughts.”

    Life-long leaning (life, business, etc.) is critical to get in the mindset to have your actions control thoughts. Stefan Lindegaard has a superb project (failing forward) underway. Grassroots, that if it catches fire can be a nice sequel to Napoleon Hill alibis that keep us trapped within a bubble for innovation or (________). As you have mentioned a simple change, can make a BIG difference.

    When an individual or organization gets the people, process, technology sequence out of order, doom is around the corner. Today was another prime example of how Twitter can swing attitudes into altitude. I used /displayed the dialogue we have been having along with Ralph and Jose. The good, the bad, and the ugly…the CEO turned to the CMO and asked why they have not been using social media for competitive intelligence versus only for typical marketing pizzazz, the CFO has an aha moment. I got cornered by the CMO and got a good blasting….remarkable. I pray every day the silos will form silos of collaboration as co-creator superheroes. At times I think social media is a pill to lull folks into a zombie state.

    Warren Buffett hit the bulls eye – “We simply attempt to be fearful when others are greedy and be greedy only when others are fearful.”

    Poetry is another terrific avenue to surf the maverick wave for innovation or (_____) to ride the tube…if you are fixed in the mindset, oh well enjoy the wipeout, the mindset of investing in self with life-long learning will have you hanging ten! 😉


  • Hello @SteveKoss,

    Very true. We all have more control over our thoughts than given credit for and it all starts with attitude.

    On top of this I would add having awareness. I don’t think it’s given a lot of attention but I think it’s the difference between a leader and a follower. Having the presence of mind to understand your thoughts and then act on them goes a long way. Maybe getting people to become aware of these things is the path forward to cultivating more growth mindsets.

    Glad to hear that our discussion from last week led to a ‘breakthrough’, no doubt we should award medals for bravery anytime groupthink is overcome.

    Thanks for the enlightening comment, cheers 🙂

  • Good points, all. If we want to accelerate innovation, how do we get fixed mindset people unstuck? Musing about the word “mindset”, does this not imply mental inertia, even when we consider ourselves of the flexible mind ___? I figure minds get themselves stuck by the belief system they stick to. Belief system change = uncomfortable, scary, even for flexible minds. I side with the belief (ha!) that flexible minds have a higher tolerance for discomfort of ambiguity and uncertainty. How would a fixed mind learn that failing does not kill? I feel leading by example, cautious coaching and coaxing, and safe space go a long way to encourage risk-taking that innovation is.

  • Anonymous

    It is difficult but not impossible.
    I agree with these two “tags”- fixed and growth mentalities are indeed easy to see anywhere. However there is always the possibility of shaping these attitudes, although often roughly as much in one direction as another. Two examples in jest: Special Forces of an army or religious missionaries.
    In a more peaceful way the mindset of investing in self with life-long learning, referred by Steve, is a good example of change management attitudes. Unfortunately I don’t know of many studies related to the changes of behavior in higher age categories, which could help understand the behavior of people within organizations.
    Typically, the studies reported on attitudes are made with students, which may cause a shift of assessment.
    I think innovation is fundamental “re-educate the perceptions and foster new work habits that encourage curiosity. This will certainly help to build a growth mindset.
    And as Jorge says, all this consciously.

  • Hello Jose,

    You make a great point that most of these studies are done with children and not with adults. Adding to your examples I would add sports, where it’s not surprising to see coaches and players still pushing themselves to get better all the time.

    There is also the idea of identities, as you know we all adopt many identities throughout our lives. Can we create an identity that people will find desirable such as ‘innovator’ in an organization or even in life?

    I think it’s something worth exploring.

    Thank you for adding your 25 cents Jose!

  • Hello Bernd,

    I agree with you. Better use the term belief system than mindset. What are your thoughts on creating and identity that people might find desirable to adopt as a way to move them towards a more open minded approach to things?

    Thank you for adding your thoughts, much appreciated 😉

  • Hmm, creating an identity… Create YOUR identity! If people in power positions show (don’t tell) it is OK to be wrong, change mind, try again, then we have one element of the safe space the scared need to try unsticking from their mindset. Power people blogging and all that jazz helps because it leaves a time track that can be examined for evidence of mind-change.

  • Hi Jorge!
    It is also a good place to include sports in these examples. By the way sports are a good starting point for the issue of identity. I understand, here, identity as a model or reference to follow for the development of work on innovation.
    Without forgetting the words of Michael Jordan, “the individual talent can win a game but are the teams that win championships” (+-),as a player and perhaps still now, he is an example of identity and promotion of the sport. We can find more examples like sailing, cycling, tennis or golf.
    What I think is the identity or desirable model are the core characteristics of these people when applied to the work. The same is true when it comes to Edison and Steve Jobs.
    There is not a set of hard and soft skills, it is rather a precise combination of these skills applied to various contexts where it highlights the adaptability preceded by a clear awareness of opportunity.
    We see that, in sport, weather changes or adverse crowds of spectators or new untested materials emerges. WE see the same with the new tactics or new rules.
    I conclude in the affirmative, I think we can identify a common where a number of branches may grow differently and produce different products with new and different uses. Good practices can be useful but validated in context.
    The identity has to be handmade!
    Example: I import seed from Canada, for my orchard /garden, including seeds of tomatoes from Siberia and peppers Chileans. My context does not produce what I expected! 
    I think you brought a new challenge: Looking for identities not profiles!

  • i love Carol Dweck. reading mindset was huge to me.
    my fav take-a-way – now i see everything as adventure.
    a recovering perfectionist – i even crave critique – now it’s info…info i need.

    what used to zap my energy – now feeds me… ie: i messed up? you don’t like it?.. cool jets – what can i learn from that.

    great post and comments – thanks..

  • I agree, that would be the ‘ideal scenario’ for them to create their own identity. Leadership needs to step up and set the example.

    Thanks again 🙂

  • @jabaldaia Yes! You hit the nail. There are ‘desirable identities’ everywhere you look, and we even use them in marketing and I think in the future it will become the normal. Like you said this happens in companies also, for example Apple has created a desirable identity not only for their organization but also for customers. And as you point out, you can start with an identity but in the long run that identity has to be handmade so that it sticks.

    Great stuff Jose 🙂

  • Here is one example where leadership did step up. Although this video is only talk (TED talk, though), Ray C. Anderson has set an admirable example. Enjoy.

  • Outstanding! Thanks for the pointer 🙂

  • Ralph Ohr

    Great post and comments, Jorge!

    I think it’s a very interesting question, pointing out that organizational performance and individual attitude / mindest are strongly linked to each other.
    While, in my opinion, the right mindset of workers doesn’t immediately lead to an innovative organization, it’s for sure a mandatory requirement. But only together with the right culture, processes etc., people’s potential can be exploited.

    I’d like to point to a great article on this topic: The Innovator’s DNA
    Based on this, two attitudes seem to be of great importance for me in this context: the ability to associate as well as to be comfortable with changes. Associating means making new connections, which is the basis for creativity and novel solutions. Without showing this attitude, a person has a hard time to contribute, as we know that innovation emerges at intersections. Every human tends to stick to habits, making innovation a priori difficult as it is reated to change. But there are differences in the ability to tolerate changes, the tendency towards experimentation and, related, the failure tolerance.

    All this plays a role how people are capable of contributing to innovation. Radical innovation activities require different personalities compared to incremental innovation activities (likely related to growth vs. fixed mindset). I think, this is a crucial issue companies have to understand when alllocating resources. There needs to be a fit between task and personality – otherwise the employee is most likely to fail.

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