Framing the Innovation Mindset

Laura A. McLaughlin, James McLaughlin
Issues in Informing Science and Information Technology  •  Volume 18  •  2021  •  pp. 083-102
Aim/Purpose: To build the skills of innovation, we must first establish a framework for the belief system that surrounds effective innovation practice. In building any belief system, sometimes outdated beliefs need to be replaced with better, more carefully researched ideas. One such belief, discovered in our research and elsewhere, is that creativity is innate and that great ideas arise through chance or happenstance.

Background: One belief regarding innovation and creativity, discovered in our research and elsewhere, is the belief that creativity is innate. History has repeatedly shown this to be untrue, yet people still believe it. We have found within our research another belief is that innovation happens through random, unstructured processes -- that great ideas arise through chance or happenstance. However, participants also believed that innovation is a skill. If someone believes innovation is a skill but also believes innovation is innate, random, and unstructured, this disconnect presents obstacles for the training and development of innovation skills.

Methodology: This research is based on a combination of background research and direct survey of innovators, educators, scientists, and engineers, in addition to the general public. The survey is used to illuminate the nature of significant beliefs related to creativity and innovation practice

Contribution: We examine the myths and truths behind creativity as well as the false beliefs behind innovation as we present a closed model for innovation and the key framing elements needed to build a successful, trainable, developable system that is the innovation mindset. And like any skill, creativity and innovation can be taught and learned using tools and processes that can be followed, tracked, and documented. If innovation is a skill, creativity should not re-quire magic or the production of ideas out of thin air.

Findings This paper identifies the historic nature of creativity as well as the general strategies used by innovators in implementing innovation practices and pro-poses a framework that supports the effective development of the innovation mindset.

Recommendations for Practitioners: Apply the framework and encourage ideation and innovation participants to appreciate that they can learn to be creative and innovative. Start as early as possible in the education process, as all of these skills can be instructed at early ages.

Recommendations for Researchers: Continue to gather survey data to support a refined understanding of the motivations behind the disconnect between innovation as a methodical skill and the beliefs in the use of random ideation techniques.

Impact on Society: Transforming the understanding of creativity and innovation from one of mythical belief to one of methodical skill application will dramatically alter the lifelong impact of knowledge gained in support of global economic and environmental challenges.

Future Research: A continuation of the recommended research paths and collaboration with other creativity researchers leading to improved methods for dissuading mythical beliefs toward formalized, systematic ideation and innovation practices.
creativity, ideation, innovation, mindset, professional development, problem solving, training
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