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The Psychology of Innovation: 6 Tips for Adopting an Innovative Mindset

This article is sponsored by Curtin University

Did you know that innovative thinking is an increasingly important skill in Australia’s job market? No matter which career path you  hope to pursue, demonstrating that you can work and think innovatively will add value and make you more employable in any industry. 

Here, we provide an overview of what innovation is all about, the psychology of innovation and how to adopt an innovative mindset yourself.

What is innovation?

Innovation is the process of introducing new ideas, methods, products or solutions that solve important problems or create meaningful change. It involves thinking creatively to address challenges or see new opportunities. 

Innovation is vital in many fields, from technology and business; to arts and sciences. Working innovatively can enhance efficiency, foster progress and shape the advancement of our society.

So, how do you cultivate innovative thinking? Let’s take a look at some key strategies. 

How to develop an innovative mindset

1. Stay curious

Curiosity is a vital aspect of innovation. It will ensure you remain flexible, adaptable and open to new ideas. Curiosity is also a key ingredient when learning how to think outside the box.

Stay curious by asking questions about the systems and structures you see around you. How do they work? Why do they work this way? What factors need to be considered when making decisions about creation, marketing, business strategy or anything else? 

To find the answers to these questions, you may want to engage in online research, read books, watch TED talks from industry experts, or even reach out to industry leaders on LinkedIn to learn more.

Staying curious will also allow you to be flexible, which is another crucial part of innovation. If something isn’t working, rather than becoming disheartened or giving up, ask why it isn’t working … and then be curious about other approaches and solutions!

2. Embrace change

Change is a driving force behind adaptation and innovation. It brings opportunities to improve, get creative and explore possibilities. True innovators don’t just react to change; they actively anticipate and instigate it. 

Adopting a “failing fast” mindset – taking risks, experimenting, and quickly learning from failures – allows for rapid adjustments and refinement. By doing so, innovators can adapt to the evolving landscape, and shape its direction. 

It’s crucial to recognise that change is inevitable and powerful. So, rather than merely accepting it, use it as a tool to carve new paths and redefine the trajectory of your industry. Welcome change with open arms and a forward-thinking vision!

Read more: 7 Creative Jobs You Didn’t Know You Could Get with a Business Degree

3. Immerse yourself in new experiences

As your understanding of the world broadens, the diverse perspectives you encounter can develop your innovative mindset.

The psychology of innovation is interconnected to new experiences – and as an international student, you’re likely to have plenty of them. Travelling to a new country to pursue your academic dreams, connecting and networking with people from around the globe, settling into a different culture – these are all new experiences that will broaden your mindset.

Tap into the wealth of information on the internet to access new experiences and knowledge. Read news about topics you’re unfamiliar with, read the memoir of a person you’ve never heard of before, listen to a podcast about a topic you know little about – the opportunities are endless.

4. Understand the value of simplicity

Innovation often shines brightest when it addresses genuine needs with straightforward solutions. A prime example of this is the rise of meal kit delivery services – examples available in Perth include Marley Spoon, Dinner Twist and HelloFresh. Many individuals are too busy to shop for and prepare healthy meals, and so these companies provide a simple solution: deliver pre-measured ingredients with easy-to-follow recipes directly to consumers’ doorsteps.

Similarly, companies like Slack emerged out of the simple need for effective team communication without the clutter and confusion of traditional email chains. By focusing on the core problem of streamlining communications, Slack quickly became a staple for teams globally.

When innovating, it’s vital to be intentional about identifying the real problems at hand and to approach solutions with simplicity in mind. By doing so, you ensure that innovations not only answer genuine needs but also remain user-friendly and accessible. Keep in mind: when you clear away the noise and focus on the core issue, transformative ideas often emerge.

5. Learn from the experts

Regardless of where you’re at in your career or studies, it’s always useful to look to the experts. By following the Australian innovators or entrepreneurs that you most admire or respect – either via social media, by reading their blogs and thought leadership, or by listening to their podcasts – you’re able to keep up to date with the innovators driving the conversation today. 

This gives you insight into how they think and tackle challenges, and you can try to adopt their approaches yourself.

Be inspired by these Australian innovators:

Nick Molnar and Anthony Eisen, founders of Afterpay.

– My and Chris Tistrand, founders of Dinner Twist, a meal kit service in Western Australia.

– Kevin Mitchem, co-founder of architecture and design networking start-up, CO-architecture.

Dr Michelle Simmons, who is leading the charge to create the first quantum computer.

Andrew Dowding, creator of the Indigenous Mapping Workshop and director of Winyama.

Read more: Why Study Innovation in Australia?

6. Remain grateful

Finally, gratitude is a vital aspect of innovation. According to research on the psychology of innovation, gratitude dispels fear and allows new possibilities to arise. 

Innovation has its ups and downs, with many obstacles and surprises along the way. Amidst these hurdles, gratitude provides a steady anchor, ensuring innovators stay grounded and remember the support, lessons, and achievements that have brought them this far. 

Embracing gratitude helps innovators stay strong and positive, often leading to new and creative ways to solve problems. For example, an entrepreneur who is thankful might see setbacks as chances to learn, and a reason to push themselves to think differently. Also, when a team feels gratitude, they work better together, leading to shared success. In short, being grateful is more than just a positive feeling; it’s a powerful tool for encouraging new ideas and success.

Take the first step in developing an innovative mindset with the Bachelor of Innovation at Curtin University. With specialisations available in a wide range of disciplines – from small business start-up to fashion design to environmental planning – you’ll gain the innovative thinking skills you need to thrive in any career.

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