Innovating your organisation, – your work and yourself starts with an innovative mindset: a way of perceiving, thinking and doing, at which you want to progress, are open to the world, get new insights, see opportunities, get new ideas en put your energy in implementing those ideas.

I have made a simple self assessment to reflect on your own mindset. Do you think you are innovative? Well, I invite you to answer five questions. Please assess yourself on the extent in which you recognise yourself on a scale from 1 to 10, where 1 means: No, no match whatever and 10. means: Yes, perfect match.

A self assessment in 5 questions

  1. I want to progress in life. Score:
  2. I am open to the world around me. Score:
  3. I continuously get fresh insights. Score:
  4. I continuously see opportunities and get new ideas. Score:
  5. I put a lot of effort in realising my new ideas. Score:

The maximum is 50 points. I score 40 points What’s your score?

  • 40 or more: WoW; you really have an innovative mindset.
  • 31 to 40: You have an innovative mindset.
  • 21 to 30: You can improve your innovative mindset.
  • 20 or less: You can definitely improve your innovative mindset.

Everybody can be an innovator, as long as you really want to.

Everybody can be an innovator, as long as you really want to. That’s what I have experienced myself guiding innovation projects the last 30 years of my professional life. It all starts with the question: Do you want to progress in life? When you have an innovative mindset: You are ambitious. You are curious. You see opportunities. You are creative. You take action. An innovative mindset of yourself and your colleagues is the fundament for an innovative organisation.

I like to present you five ways to help you boost to your innovativeness:

Postpone your judgement. Like on Facebook we also in our professional lives continuously like and dislike. Our experience materialises in opinions which makes us masters in our profession. In this way we create our own best practices during our career. But the world changes at a fast pace. And we run a huge risk that our best practices of today today will become blinders, missing out on the next practices of tomorrow. So to stay – or to become more innovative, it’s essential to start seeing your judgement as a button, which you can turn on and off, whenever you like. Turn it off, when you want to open up.

Break your patterns. Forty percent of our daily practice is not based on a decision but just happens from our routines. A lot of these patterns in our lives are fully automated, and are hard to break. Step one is to postpone our judgement and step two is to break our patterns by looking to the world with a different perspective. To be really aware of what you observe, instead of being on autopilot. And when you are really aware, you will get curious again. Nature has given us two eyes, two ears and only one mouth for a reason. Observe and listen at least twice as much as you talk. And raise questions. that’s the way to learn, and to get inspired.

Nature has given us two eyes, two ears and only one mouth for a reason.

See opportunities. Once you break your pattern you will start seeing new opportunities right away. New technologies, new trends, new target groups, new markets, new customers, new designs, new business models, new distribution channels; they all may provide great opportunities to innovate. These opportunities will emerge as fresh ideas to you at any moment, when you’re not thinking of them, like in the shower, in your car, while jogging or just before you fall asleep. Just relax, and they will pop into your mind.

Undertake inspiration safaris. You learn the most form people who look the least like you. The only problem is that you normally will never meet them. Don’t study only your competitors. Reach out to people beyond your industry, get in touch with them and you will learn extensively. What can a hospital learn from IKEA on an ideal routing? What can an insurance company learn from a music festival on creating customer experiences? What can a government agency learn from Starbucks on customer service? Organise a tour for yourself and your colleagues to get them out of their offices and their comfort zones.

Discover customer pain points and -dreams. Another great way to open your mind and become more innovative is to interact with clients. Companies looking for customer insights themselves are double as profitable in their innovation projects as competitors who didn’t. Of course you don’t go to clients asking what they want, because the only thing they want are improvements of what’s already out there on the market. No, your innovativeness is really sparked by learning how they interact with products and services, what their problems are while using them, and what they are dreaming of. Be curious and ask a thousand questions.

Be curious and ask a thousand questions.

I hope these five practical ways inspire you and wish you lots of success increasing your own innovativeness so you will be more successful on your innovation journeys.


Gijs van Wulfen


Gijs van Wulfen is a recognised authority and keynote speaker on innovation and Design Thinking. He was chosen as one of the first LinkedIn Influencers and as of 2017, 300.000 people across the globe are following his notably engaging, prolific and insightful posts. In 2016 Gijs came number 2 in the international Top 40 Innovation Bloggers. In 2017 his book ‘The Innovation Maze’ was elected ‘Management Book of the Year’.


Author Shenzhen Blog Network

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