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Sudhakar I. Prabu


Leadership Coach, Leadership Development Consultant, Performance Improvement Consultant

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Innovation – How to think innovatively?


Individuals who can think innovatively are inspirational and influential players who add value to their organization. In this article my aim is to explore how to think innovatively, rather than explore how organizations innovate to create growth opportunities and improve organizational competence.
Innovation is a means to an end, not an end in itself. In an organizational context the end is to create profitable growth opportunities and improve organization’s competence, innovation opens way to achieve that goal. Innovation refers to radical and revolutionary changes in thinking, process, products, and organizations. To think innovatively is to think differently, find fresh ideas, and think out-of-the-box. The goal of innovation is make positive change, create something new, tackle complex problems, improve or make things better, and make something completely different. Innovation is risky as it may not always lead to success, one need to understand the risk involved as there is chance of failure.
Innovative thinking leads to doing something useful – useful discoveries & useful applications; improvement – improve the way product & services being offered, developing creative solutions, change the way business being done, which enables an organization to seize an opportunity and create or add value in a new way.
( To Know more about 3 Day Leadership Effectiveness Workshop Facilitated by Sudhakar I. Prabu Click Here or visit )
Kinds of innovation:
  • Invention: It is an act of pioneering, a science-fiction style out of the box thinking, spectacular science and engineering marvel that creates something useful. It is imaginative, inspiring, new, and useful , possibly never has thought or done before.
  • Up-gradation: Take up an idea, product, or process that already exists and work on it to improve, make it better, and identify ways of doing things differently, take a failed idea and turn to success,  in order to create or add value in a new way.
  • Adaptation: Make use of an idea that is used or applied in one context and apply or use tin a context  that is contrast or indirectly connected to the original context. It also requires finding required changes and making sure that it fits or suits well in another context to resolve complex or unresolvable problems.
  • Implementation: Finding creative solutions to obstacles that hinders/stops the implementation. It is about finding a creative solution to the problem encountered in a way that enables the implementation to continue unstopped.
How to think innovatively?
  • Be Calm: relax and keep your mind fresh and less pressured, some of the best ideas spark in mind when one is relaxed and less stressed. Fine your own way of calming and relaxing yourself, like taking a walk etc.
  • Curiosity: keep your mind in the state of curiosity, inquisitive, observe, and understand. Remove self-inhibitions – self created mind constraints, assumptions that restrict your exploration.
  • Imaginative: unlock the creative part of you, do not prejudge and squash thoughts prematurely, allow your imagination and creative intuition to take charge. Think what can be done differently.
  • Be Deliberate: deliberately think differently, refuse to think in a natural habitual way or regular way, that is not confine to the existing paradigm of conventional boundaries of thinking within which you operate.
  • Challenge and Question: challenge assumptions and question accepted facts in way that breaks the conventional wisdom that pushes to explore new alternatives and find new ways of doing things.
  • Change the view point: – find new perspective, angle, and alternative positions to think from in order to perceive differently that can result in thinking and perceiving things differently than the normal way things are perceived.
  • Stretch the limit: break the existing norms or accepted norms. Deal with fear of failure, take risks, and experiment with ideas to discover what can work and what cannot work.
  • Exposure: expose yourself to wide variety of things. Ideas come from other ideas. Experience and expose to new things and perspectives, variety of alternative ideas, find inspiration in crazy things. Informed about the existing and emerging trends and technologies.
  • Feedback: ask people their opinions and ideas to collect inputs and organize and arrange their ideas to arrive at better one.
Tools for innovative Thinking:
(I will post a blog on each of these topics in coming days to give the readers an elaborate view on each of the following topics)
  • Brainstorming: an activity that can be done individually or in group, more effective when done in group, to generate large number of ideas in shortest time. To know more read my other blog – Brainstorming Techniques for problem solving and team building )
  • Metaphorical Thinking: connecting two unrelated or indirectly linked things to create ideas that can be used effectively to solve problems.
  • Affinity Diagram: Organize ideas and data coming from sources to store or classify into groups for review and analysis.
  • Nominal Group Techniques: collecting opinions and identify commonness, plurality of ideas and approaches, often leads to creation of hybrid ideas.
  • Story-boarding: Pre-visualizing tool used in planning ad campaigns, commercials, projects intended to convene or compel to action.
  • Mind mapping: using diagram to work around a central idea to organize information other items linked and arranged around the central idea.
  • 6 hat thinking: tool to look at thing from number of different perspectives, pushing one to think outside the habitual way of thinking.

Author Profile Picture
Sudhakar I. Prabu

Leadership Coach, Leadership Development Consultant, Performance Improvement Consultant

Read more from Sudhakar I. Prabu

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