Why mindsets matter in digital innovation

In our March blog “Taking the path to digital transformation” we described how leading innovators, R&D and new-product development have become digital innovation endeavors. How eleven of the fifty companies named in BCG’s 2018 ranking of the most innovative companies – including seven of the top ten – are digital natives and thus digital innovators by definition. How important it is to take an approach that is adaptive in ways that integrate people and technology, by understanding that mindsets matter.

Described by Deloitte, in a recent article “Digital workplace and culture – How digital technologies are changing the workforce and how enterprises can adapt and evolve”:

“It is the job of the organization to create and support a singular vision that everyone is working towards, whether that is in an office or online. No matter where an organization is on the path to digital transformation, executives can take steps to create a supportive, adaptive workplace for the people who can help their organization grow to the next level”.

Acknowledging that most digitization efforts, no matter how intentional and well resourced, fail unless these crucial elements are at play and, the operating culture adapts, innovates and transforms to support their successful application in digital innovation.

Why do mindsets matter in digital innovation?

We outlined how to embrace digitization and innovation – how to do it, well, or better by understanding, quantifying and shifting mindsets by using The Organizational Growth Indicator® (OGI®). The OGI® describes an organization’s mindset as a “cognitive style” involving a psychological dimension that is generally viewed as a preferred approach to processing information, decision making, addressing tasks and solving problems.

In his book “Grow through Disruption” Dr. Brett Richards explains that a mindset represents more how we think, it captures how we feel and how we act as individuals and as whole organizations. explaining why and organisations collective mindset matters. 

  • Mindsets are an active and dynamic expression of an organization’s culture and collective consciousness, in that it taps into underlying values, beliefs, and assumptions at play, with it.
  • Mindsets shed light on an organization’s collective, unique active cognitive stylistic preferences, which shapes strategy formulation, and the way in which resources and talent actively engage with the world and are harnessed and maximized.

These can be quantified within the OGI® by the extent to which it leverages each of the 4 principal mindsets which can be mapped by utilizing the following model illustrated in the figure below.

Whose continuum’s represent the dynamic tensions that exist within most organizations as they strive to achieve intelligent action. Organizations that successfully balance and leverage these dimensions, which is described as a Competing Values Framework, achieve long term viability and sustained success.

  • Flexible organizations will be more open to changing processes and structures, valuing agility and responsiveness in meeting new and emerging needs of stakeholders, partners & consumers.
  • Stable organizations will be more focussed on maintaining a consistent, routinized approach to meeting the needs of the business and its customers.
  • Externally focussed organizations are more sensitive and responsive to shifts occurring in their external environment.
  • Internally focussed organizations are more sensitive and responsive to their internal operating environment.


Mapping organisational mindsets

By integrating the 4 Principal Mindsets of the OGI® we are able to create a collective organizational mindset map, illustrated in the figure below, which incorporates;

  • The Imagine Mindset with its focus on the power of possibility to fuel the search for new discoveries combines challenging and disrupting the status quo, with flexibility and an external focus is essential to innovation and adaptive change to create the desired future.
  • The Resolve Mindset with its focus on transforming and adapting new ideas into tangible value and innovative solutions and results combines stability with an internal focus toward establishing a high performance around making things work.
  • The Analyse Mindset with its focus on information, knowledge, and ideas helps combines stability with an external focus to ensure that research drives a more practical and robust search for ideas and practices that will improve the status quo and drive knowledge.
  • The Align Mindset with its focus on integrating and aligning the organisations values, vision, and purpose for change, engages people, inspires conviction and the flexibility required to interconnect internally to create unity and purpose around effecting positive change.

Developing the mindset scorecard

Doing this creates a common understanding and language, impact and scorecards the often-competing differences between mindsets, and behaviours across organizational demographics (departments, divisions, and business units).

This sheds light on the way mindsets reflect the impact of strategies, business challenges, leadership styles, and subcultures that exist within the organization.


Mapping mindsets case study example in digital innovation  

Our client, a global leader in its industry, sought our support to improve its innovation capability as a lever for achieving its organisational growth objectives. Initially, by seeking our advice in the purchase of a digitized ideation platform, and whether the current organisational culture would support, embrace and enable its implementation, or not.

Upon conducting the quantitative research, we discovered what collective mindsets would support and inhibit the organisations ability to adapt,  grow and innovate in line with its strategic objectives. How their collective mindsets impacted both positively and negatively on the proposed acquisition of the digitized ideation platform.

We supported this online assessment with qualitative research and identified the results which are illustrated in the figure below.

Brief summary of the key cultural challenges

  • People were focussing on ensuring that production met the sales targets, and not on ensuring that they delivered quality products that resulted in positive customer experiences. There was a range of deep unacknowledged issues and systemic problems that resulted in high levels of customer dissatisfaction – Resolve Mindset.
  • People perceived that they were “not allowed” to be creative and inventive, due to an underlying assumption and belief that only the founders had permission to innovate.  People were being restricted by budget constraints (due to the focus on meeting sales profit margins) and constantly reworking and fixing core products rather than creating and inventing new ones – Imagine Mindset.
  • There was confusion internally as a result of the lack of clarity, communication, and understanding about the vision, BHAG, and values. There were no clear lines of sight to individual job roles and to customers – Align Mindset.
  • The unacknowledged issue around poor quality created a negative legacy both internally (staff dissatisfaction & repetition of the same mistakes) and externally (delivery of faulty goods & cost of onsite rework) – Resolve Mindset.
  • The organization was heavily Process-driven, where People’s levels of engagement, potential, and ability to contribute were largely ignored. KPI’s created internal competition rather than collaboration and lacked systems alignment to customer satisfaction and quality expectations – Analyze Mindset.

Finally, had the organisation gone ahead, and invested the million dollars plus to purchase the proposed digitized ideation platform, the key cultural challenges, especially in the Align and Imagine Mindset results, would have prohibited its effective application and implementation.

Developing a culture that supports digital innovation and business transformation

This reinforces the need for organisations to focus on developing a culture that supports digital innovation, by strategically and systemically aligning people and technology, within the culture through to leverage their talent:

  • Giving people the trust, permission and psychological safety to develop, experiment with, and cultivate creative ideas, combined with an external focus on competing by increasing value through improving the customer experience – Imagine Mindset
  • Finding solutions to problems and delivering results, developing internal agility and stability, and an external focus on competing by improving overall product quality and their customer’s experience – Resolve Mindset
  • Providing information and proof through being agile and connecting technology, systems, and processes, to increase overall value through process improvements, and collaboration – Analyse Mindset.
  • Cultivating talents collective genius and maximizing their potential through clarity, values alignment, collaboration, strategic leadership, and continuous learning. Being flexible and agile with an internal focus on increasing value by improving people’s overall experience at work – Align Mindset.

After all, innovation is an organisations ability to stimulate and transform new ideas and knowledge into products, processes or services that tangibly increase value to customers, accelerate growth, enhance operational effectiveness and/or improve profitability.

This is the second of a series of 3 articles on embracing digitization, transformation, and innovation.

At ImagineNation™ we provide innovation coaching, education and culture consulting to help businesses achieve their innovation goals. Because we have done most of the learning and actioning of new hybrid mindsets, behaviors, and skill-sets already, we can help your businesses also do this by opening people up to their innovation potential.

Find out about The Coach for Innovators Certified Program, a collaborative, intimate & deep personalized learning program, supported by a global group of peers over 8-weeks, starting October 22, 2019. It is a deep blended learning program that will give you a deep understanding of the language, principles & applications of a human-centered approach to innovation, within your unique context. Find out more.

Contact us now at janet@imaginenation.com.au to find out how we can partner with you to learn, adapt and grow your business in the digital age.