5 Ways to Renew Your Mindset of Innovation

by Christine Nicometo

It feels like everywhere we turn these days, someone is talking about design thinking or innovation. Perhaps this is because, as humans, we gravitate toward patterns of thinking that can quickly become ruts. Those ruts can leave us blind to opportunities and insights – both in our careers and in our personal lives.

This is why design thinking and a mindset of innovation are so useful and appealing to us. They remove the blinders of habit and help us see in new ways, through new actions. Learning these techniques and habits of thinking can transform the way we work, think, and engage with the world.

How do we keep these new practices from becoming stale? Here are five ways to maintain a mindset of innovation and keep reaching new levels of creative action:

  1. Learn new modes of diffusion for innovation: Especially if you were an early adopter of innovative practices in your organization, it can be easy to feel held back by others who aren’t ready to move as quickly as you are. Consider this your new challenge! Learn to sell your ideas and help others feel like empowered partners. Key skills required are patience, persuasive communication, and empathy. Build these into your new super powers to multiply your impact and recharge.


  1. Observe and connect with others early and often: You’ve tackled your biggest problem and solved it with a clever innovation. Now what? To identify your next priority, hone your skills of observation and listening. When we are energized with ideas, we often want to talk about them non-stop. Instead, this is when listening matters most. Pay attention to what others are struggling with to identify the pain points that could use some creative solutions.


  1. Do the work to learn: Once the blinders are off, don’t stop there – keep learning. This means doing research and pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone. Look for training opportunities that can also build your network of thought leaders. Not sure where to start? Check out Engineering Professional Development’s upcoming Innovation course on September 14th where you’ll learn the basics of design thinking and how to keep those skills fresh.


  1. Evaluate your fit with the organization: If your role is feeling a bit stale, perhaps it is time to challenge yourself to pursue a new opportunity. This might mean positioning yourself for a new role within your own organization or looking for other opportunities to thrive in your career.


  1. Find balance between a culture of execution and a culture of innovation: Even the best ideas fall flat unless they are executable. Examine how well you are balancing both the innovation and execution of your ideas. How well is your team performing on this front? If you see an imbalance, this is an opportunity to rethink work flow and change patterns to ensure forward progress in both these areas.


If you, your team, or organization are interested in learning how to use design thinking and innovation techniques to transform your work, Engineering Professional Development at UW-Madison can help. Whether you are interested in a custom course, online program, or team consulting, we want to hear from you. For more information, contact Christine Nicometo ( or check out