Think about the most innovative companies in the world. Names like Apple, Amazon, and Tesla likely come to mind. And you wouldn’t be wrong. These companies are giants who are transforming the world around us using technology. Innovation and technology are often synonymous, but not all innovators must be tied to tech.
You may not know Leo Chan, but his company does a lot of things right when it comes to innovation. It is the job of everyone in his organization to think about how to improve things. To constantly ask the question why? why not? and what if? And his company is certainly doing a tremendous job of innovating. After all, Leo Chan is the senior lead for an innovation company that just happens to sell chicken sandwiches, Chick-fil-A.
The framework for innovation began for Chick-fil-A back in 2009 by CEO Dan Cathy. He understood any industry could be disrupted and innovation is the only way to stay ahead. And a key component to innovation is embracing the innovation mindset.
Just as we defined the difference between innovation and invention, we must also have clarity on what exactly is a mindset.
Mindset is often confused with words such as attitude or belief. While all three terms are similar, there are marked differences which, if not properly understood, could undermine an organization’s efforts in establishing a lasting cultural transformation of innovation.
Mindset is a disposition that predetermines how an individual interprets and perceives the world around them.
Simply put, mindset is a way of thinking. Your attitude will reflect your way of thinking in how you interact with the world. While beliefs are the concepts you believe to be true.
As an example, consider self-made millionaire (and mentor to Tony Robbins) Jim Rohn who said we should “treat our body like a temple, not a woodshed.” This is a healthy mindset. A way of thinking that would govern attitudes toward diet and exercise with beliefs determining which foods to eat and workouts to perform.
Fixed vs. Growth Mindset
There are many hurdles to navigate when seeking to create an organization centered on innovation. Lack of investment, commitment, and structure are often cited as the principal obstacles preventing the change companies desperately desire. However, according to the Harvard Business Review, the five most common barriers to innovation are people-related.
It isn’t so much your employees may be averse to change or improvement. Rather, it may be their mindset preventing them from taking the necessary steps to invoke innovation.
According to Carol Dweck, Ph.D. and author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, there are two basic mindsets shaping our lives. Although focused on our beliefs about intelligence and talent, each mindset frames how we navigate the challenges and opportunities presented to us. Dweck explains the two mindsets as:
The fixed mindset: Intelligence and talent are fixed and cannot be improved. Individuals with a fixed mindset hide their flaws and mistakes, give up easily, and are not motivated to strive or achieve goals.
The growth mindset: Intelligence and talent can be improved. Individuals with a growth mindset embrace flaws and mistakes, learn from their errors, accept that setbacks are part of the learning process, and feel empowered to reach and achieve goals.
The insurance industry traditionally moves forward with caution. This is understandable in a world where reducing risk equates to increased profits. But it also has led some organizations to lack growth-minded teams.
Organizations committing to Innovation as a function will need to ensure they have the right personnel if they want to make their long-term aspirations a reality. Mindset quizzes, such as the one offered by the London Academy of IT, can aid companies in evaluating which employees will be better at driving innovation initiatives.
Ingredients to an Innovative Mindset
Having a growth mindset is important for individuals and organizations to grow. But a growth mindset alone is not enough to sustain a perpetual push to innovate. There are other traits an innovation team must have to graduate from a mindset of growth to one of innovation.
Courage: Challenging successful strategies, proven processes, and profitable products takes courage. But it is important to have the mettle necessary to look past today and foresee how the lack of innovation could, and will, eventually lead to an organization’s decline. Challenging management and the status quo is not for the faint of heart, but necessary if an organization wants to stay on the leading edge.
Creativity: Insurance and creativity are rarely mentioned in the same breath. Creativity leads to solutions that otherwise would never materialize. This is where outside-the-box thinking thrives, pulling organizations forward into new and exciting territories of what could be.
Openness: The world is in a constant state of flux and change. Accepting technology is fundamentally transforming your industry is a tough pill to swallow. The innovation mindset understands this and recognizes the importance of shortening (if not eliminating) the urge to deny, deflect, or depress innovative ideas.
Knowledge: Insurance is built on knowledge. Although beneficial, an innovative mindset within the industry doesn’t necessarily require the traditional knowledge typically held by actuaries, adjusters, or marketers. Instead, it is knowledge of the end consumer, whether that is an insured, carrier, agent, or broker that can propel companies to make significant leaps toward achieving long-term objectives.
Perseverance: The process of innovation should be fun and exciting. But it is often riddled with disappointment and failure. Knowing stumbling blocks lay in the path of progress, it will be a team’s perseverance that will push them over each obstacle to the breakthroughs that lie on the other side.
There are few individuals who possess all five characteristics of an innovative mindset. And that is okay. What is important, however, is that organizations build innovation teams where collectively, each trait can be found and contributes to the team’s overall success.
There are many ways companies can begin nurturing a culture of innovation. Whether you embrace the scientific method, design thinking, six sigma, or agile methodology, often it is only a matter of taking the first step to begin seeing results.
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