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The power of innovation beyond technology

Why cultivating an Innovation Mindset leads to impactful innovation

Authored by Chelsea Foxwell, Head of People and Organisation Transformation – Partner and Consultant, Rachel Moran, Uptake for PM Group Worldwide Ltd, PME Magazine.

We often hear about industry innovators, but how can you become one without developing technologies from the ground-up or completely ripping up the rule book? Uptake’s transformation team believes that anyone can be innovative daily, but understanding the foundations and practising skills are key to success.

If you’d like to maximise opportunities as a leader, it is possible to instil an innovation mindset at a team level. To do so, an understanding of diverse facets of innovation outside of technology is paramount, as are strategies for developing innovation within teams.

The risk of techno-centricity in pharma organisations 

Innovation can be found all around us – in product design, customer experience, business models, and organisational culture. By expanding our definition of innovation outside of tech, we can inspire creativity and growth in unconventional areas.

Looking beyond pharma at Airbnb, we can see that technology is part of their success, but would they have disrupted the hospitality industry with an app alone? Unlikely. It’s their reimagining of accommodation and travel experiences that blew up the ‘sharing’ economy and offered unique stays. Similarly, innovative thinking created new models that propelled companies like Uber and Netflix to industry leadership. These companies found new approaches to delivering traditional services in novel ways.

We see pharma organisations investing in the latest tech tools, thinking they hold the magic key and offer the easiest path to innovation, but without a culture supporting creativity and risk-taking, the full potential of investments won’t be realised, as people find it hard to adapt. New technology can even damage morale and team connectivity, so if this has happened, we first have to re-build this, before we start working on transforming mindsets.

Organisations solely prioritising technological solutions risk falling into techno-centrism, where technology overshadows the human element of innovation. True innovation requires a holistic approach, with embedded adoption of change.

Championing an innovation mindset

 There are five steps leaders can take to develop a culture that supports innovation:

  1. Cultivate psychological safety

Create an environment where team members feel comfortable taking risks, sharing ideas, and expressing dissent without fear of judgment or reprisal. Psychological safety is the foundation upon which innovation thrives.

  1. Encourage diverse perspectives

Embrace diversity in all its forms – gender, ethnicity, background, and thought. Diverse teams bring a range of perspectives and experiences to the table, which naturally inspires creativity and innovation.

  1. Think like scientists

Encourage a liberating culture of experimentation where failure is viewed as a natural part of the learning process. Encourage teams to test hypotheses, gather feedback, and iterate rapidly to refine their ideas.

  1. Provide the support

Invest in training, tools, and resources to equip team members with the skills and knowledge they need to innovate effectively. Support innovation initiatives with dedicated time, budget, and leadership backing.

  1. Lead by example

Transformation and change team leaders must embody the values of innovation and serve as role models for their teams. Demonstrate a willingness to embrace change, take calculated risks, and challenge conventional thinking.

The impact of innovation

 With so many goals to achieve, prioritising time to spend cultivating an innovation mindset can be difficult to argue, however, there are proven benefits which have the potential to make waves of long-lasting positive change:

  • Teams equipped with an innovation mindset are better able to adapt to changing market conditions, emerging trends, and disruptive forces.
  • Encouraging creativity and divergent thinking leads to the generation of novel ideas and solutions that drive business success.
  • Providing opportunities for autonomy, mastery, and purpose creates a sense of ownership and engagement among team members, leading to increased happiness and longevity in roles.
  • Cultivating an innovation mindset equips teams with the resilience and agility needed to navigate uncertainty and overcome challenges effectively.

So, while technology undoubtedly has the starring role in driving innovation, true transformation stems from cultivating an innovation mindset in parallel with your chosen technological solutions, software, and platforms. If you can successfully embed innovation and build a culture of creativity, adaptability, and experimentation, you have a better chance of being positioned for sustained success.

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