Innovation as an Organizational Mindset

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Globally, organizations are experiencing change at an unprecedented rate. Today innovation is not just an option, but a business mandate. Having the ability to see disruptions, challenges, and change as opportunities is defined as having an innovative mindset. Organizations that cultivate this type of mindset encourage a positive culture that allows ideas to grow and develop at all levels. They think of innovation as simply how they do business.

We have the opportunity to talk to many organizations from a wide variety of industries and it’s clear - within a few minutes - whether or not they view their employees as their most important asset…or not. Those that view their employees as fixed or depreciating assets use language like, “I’m not sure employees will be open to learning” or “I don’t think our employees have time or interest in self-development.”  Organizations that ask, “how they can make programs available to all employees” or “how can the leaders of the organization engage with employees to encourage participation”, are the ones that are constantly re-evaluating changes in customers, competition, and always looking to the next big thing. These types of organizations will continue to produce innovative solutions well beyond the life of any particular project or product. This is because an innovative mindset is woven into the threads of the organization. In fact, they know that today’s problems can lead to answering tomorrow’s questions.

Mindfulness: An Enabler of the Innovative Mindset

Leading experts in organization innovation and design thinking believe that a human-centered approach is the key to successful, sustained innovation. Following this assumption, many organizations are exploring mindfulness in the workplace to enable widespread change.

Specifically, there is emerging research that a mindfulness program can help organizations move culture and mindset in a way that few other programs can. For example, here are just a few of the many well-documented ways that a mindfulness practice can benefit an organization pursuing an innovative mindset:

  • Quality of attention. The human mind is estimated to wander about half of our waking hours (Killingsworth & Gilbert, 2010). Through practice, an individual can learn to recognize when his or her mind is wandering and have the ability to bring it back to the present.

  • Creativity. Mindfulness practice has been linked to creativity and divergent and convergent thinking, which leads to the generation of novel perspectives and responses (Good et al., 2016).

  • Re-frame or re-appraise a situation. Individuals can learn to objectively observe experiences and improve their ability to assess a situation from a centered-non-reactive place, allowing more objective assessment of a situation (Kelly & Dorian, 2017).

  • Less automaticity. Individuals act with more awareness and reduced mindless behavior, allowing them to make conscious choices about how they think and act.

  • Teamwork. Process improvement in team meetings, more active listening, more positive and collaborative discussions (Cleirigh & Greaney, 2014; Condon, Desbordes, Miller, & Desteno, 2013).

  • Intrinsically motivated. Supports individuals in pursuing meaningful, valued, or enjoyable activities (Glomb, 2011; Good et al., 2016).

  • Respond more positively to feedback. By developing self-awareness and the ability to control reactivity to emotional situations, individuals are more open to others’ points of view and less prone to self-criticism (Good et al., 2016).

  • Reduce bias and filters. Increases awareness of how personal bias and judgments may influence how they see people and situations (Hafenbrack, Kinias, & Barsade, 2014).

  • Reduces stress. One of the most researched benefit of a mindfulness practice is the ability to reduce stress by developing a different relationship to daily stressors.

If you would like to know more about how a mindfulness program can benefit you or your organization – and how to instill this type of mindset – click here to receive our latest guide, “The Connection Between Innovation and Mindfulness in the Workplace”.


Cleirigh, D. O., & Greaney, J. 2014. Mindfulness and group performance: An exploratory investigation into the effects of brief mindfulness intervention on group task performance. Mindfulness, 6: 601-609.

Fraser, H. (2011), “Business Design: Becoming a Bilateral Thinker”, Rotman Magazine, Vol. Winter, pp. 71-76.

Glomb, T. M., Duffy, M. K., Bono, J. E., & Yang, T. 2011. Mindfulness at work. Research in Personnel and Human Resources Management, 30: 115-157.

Good, D.J., Lyddy, C.J., Glomb, T.M., Bono, J.E., Brown, K.W., Duffy, M.K., Baer, R.A., Brewer, J.A. and Lazar, S.W. (2016), “Contemplating mindfulness at work an integrative review”, Journal of Management, Vol. 42 No. 1.

Hafenbrack, Andrew, Kinias, Zoe, and Barsade, Sigal (2014). Debiasing the Mind Through Meditation: Mindfulness and the Sunk-Cost Bias. Psychological Science, 25(2), 369-376.

Hyland, P., Lee, R., & Mills, M. (2015). Mindfulness at Work: A New Approach to Improving Individual and Organizational Performance. Industrial and Organizational Psychology, 8(4), 576-602. doi:10.1017/iop.2015.41

Kelly, L., & Dorian, M. (2017). Doing Well and Good: An Exploration of the Role of Mindfulness in the Entrepreneurial Opportunity Recognition and Evaluation Process. New England Journal of Entrepreneurship, 20(2), 26-36.

Killingsworth, M. A., & Gilbert, D. T. (2010). A wandering mind is an unhappy mind. Science, 330(6006), 932-932.