Innovative mindset; creativity in business, innovation, and how to improve it?

Innovative mindset

What is new, what is innovative, and to whom is it new? Concepts such as creativity in business and innovation in an entrepreneurship context are often used in combination, but there are apparent differences. In this blog, we discuss the confusion and difference between creativity, innovation, and how you can improve an innovative mindset.

Table of contents

What is innovation?

With innovation, many think of technological inventions. That is logical. There are numerous definitions of innovation. Most of them boil down to developing or applying new technologies in products, services, and processes. 

However, innovation can also be social, societal, or (business) process-oriented. In short, a renewal or regeneration. Yet, it is meaningless when it doesn’t impact the lives of people. So, to whom is it new? For example, when there is a new treatment that saves the life of just one person, who else would die, has a substantial impact on that person and his family. So, our definition of innovation is:

Innovation is renewal with impact

There are two ways for a company to innovate: proactive and reactive. Multinationals like Philips, Google, and Apple have to stay ahead of the competition, and inventions are their secret weapon. Innovation in the context of entrepreneurship also implies a growth mindset, and doing nothing means deterioration. So, they are proactive innovators. It is in their company DNA.

On the other hand, new technologies also force them to innovate. In that sense, they are reactors too. More reactive business owners will only reluctantly respond if their customers or government compel them to change.

Global research by Adobe (Adobe State of Create 2016) among over 5,000 workers believe that businesses that invest in creativity are more likely to:

  • foster innovation (83%)
  • increase employee productivity (78%)
  • provide a better customer experience (78%)
  • financially successful (73%)
  • Yet, 77% says there is an increasing pressure to be productive rather than creative!

Process innovation outnumbers product innovation

Research shows that process innovation is more common than product innovation. Innovation in larger medium-sized companies is higher than in companies with fewer than 100 employees. More than nine in ten companies have done some form of change in the past three years (product or process innovation). Moreover, they did the innovations on their own.

However, implementing an innovation strategy is not that simple and is surrounded by the danger of failing. Many bottlenecks emerge in the renewing process:

  • Time
  • Money
  • Good employees, who are creative, and have the required knowledge of the business
  • Bureaucracy (permits and patents)

Another research among a national sample of 326 startups, based throughout the United States, shows that serendipity is at its best when resources are limited (Andrew, et al. 2021 in Journal of Business Venturing). Serendipity is the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way. In other words, serendipity is when someone accidentally finds something good.

An example of serendipity is when you find a solution for a problem you were not investigating.

In turn, serendipity is positively related to new venture performance when the organizational structure is very informal.

The innovative mindset

Everyone can innovate. The only thing you need is an innovative mindset. It consists of three ingredients: creativity, knowledge of ‘the business,’ and perseverance. And, anyone can improve inventiveness, see below. Moreover, founder of creativemv Mariël Voogel quoting creative minds, says it is 10% inspiration and 90% transpiration. 

The innovation mindset can play with their thoughts. Always seeing new possibilities and opportunities. Ideas arise by opening themselves up to their environment, wondering what is happening around them, or what is not happening. It doesn’t let the limitations or the thought that it will never be something, stop them. It can think from different angles. Away from the well-trodden paths that everyone walks. Turning problems into opportunities by doing things just a little differently. For example, you may see one of its ideas reflected in a store while the other new idea is still on their drawing board. 

Less innovative mindsets are limited in their way of thinking, keep thinking about problems and objections. You could also call it a fixed mindset. Moreover, they are less anxious to experiment because of the fear that it could go wrong. Hence, they keep holding on to the status quo. However, that doesn’t make them less creative, but risk-averse and lazy instead.

To summarize, an innovative mindset is:

  • playful
  • highly energetic
  • sensitive to problems in society and surroundings
  • broadly interested and displays curiosity
  • able to judge objectively
  • open to new experiences
  • focused on similarities instead of differences
  • capable of bringing opposites together 
  • fully committed to realizing a new idea

Want to check if you have an innovative and entrepreneurial mindset? Take this entrepreneurial creativity test.

What is creativity in business and who determines it?

Creativity and innovation in entrepreneurship are the ability and urges to create. In general, a creative process can be characterized as the formation of new shapes and ideas. According to Runco and Jaeger, creativity requires originality and effectiveness. Thus, an original idea or product, which is not practically applicable, is not innovative thinking. So it must have an effect or impact.

The question is not creativity vs innovation, but who determines whether an innovative idea is sound and has an impact? Stein (1953) argues that creative work is innovative if it has never existed in this form before and can be used by a specific group and at a particular moment. He adds the factors of time and user to his definition. And that corresponds to our definition of innovation.

Creativity and intelligence, to a certain degree, go hand in hand

There is a small correlation between intelligence and creativity. Researchers (Gough, 1961; MacKinnon, 1961; Torrance, 1962; Guilford, 1967) argue that someone with a low IQ is less creative. Creative people, on the other hand, are more likely to have higher intelligence. However, with an IQ above 120, the relationship between intelligence and creativity disappears.

How to improve creativity?

Some often find themselves not creative or innovator. If you ask people, they believe it is impossible to learn. However, that’s not true at all! Psychological research has shown that anyone can get up to ten times more creative.

According to Amabile (1996), 3 elements are necessary to increase creativity: expertise, skills for creative thinking, and intrinsic motivation.

By learning to look differently, you come to diverse thoughts and ideas. That goes for everybody. Learning to think creatively means thinking outside the box, generating new ideas, and looking at the same problem from different angles. Knowledge of a problem and the motivation to solve it are also essential. Discoveries never came about without existing knowledge. Besides, your entrepreneurial spirit is stimulated, through networking and market orientation.

A few tips to learning and improve creativity

  • An easy way of arousing resourcefulness is to start associational thinking and make connections between things. For example, associate with your home, garden, and kitchen stuff. How would your company look like if it were a restaurant menu? What would be the ingredients, and what can you make of them? For example, what would a famous chef do in your situation?
  • A Harvard Business Review study of over 5,000 entrepreneurs and chief executives, shows that almost anyone can learn to think differently if you practice enough in associative thinking. Even though it can be exhausting at the beginning, the longer you practice the more positive energy it will give in return. It is like a muscle; it needs regular exercise.
  • To fuel your associative thinking, you can make use of App Brainstorm! However, remind yourself that the goal is not about the output, but about the process.
  • Sharpen your senses. Open your eyes, ears, nose, touch, taste, and, of course, your mind. It is the key to the door to new experiences.
  • Discover your preferred thinking style. Thinking styles are the programs in our brains that determine how we think, feel, and act in a situation. These thinking styles work as a filter. It directs our attention and influences our choices and determines how we deal with our experiences based on our values and beliefs.
  • Be curious. Ask questions and be critical. Questions in the creative process are more important than the answers you get.

A new idea only becomes a suitable creative solution if your environment recognizes the idea and wants to disseminate it.

an idea is spread by one little entrepreneurial breeze

Mariël Voogel – founder

Read more about the difference between skills, abilities, knowledge, and competencies.