Innovation has been a key term and area of interest in management science for well over two decades. The names of many of the world’s most noteworthy, profitable, and respected companies, including Apple, Alphabet, Amazon, and Tesla, are synonymous with this term. As it pertains to the leadership demands of successfully navigating the disruption of the global pandemic, the role of innovation is perhaps more relevant than ever.

The At Pivot International, we’ve been delivering innovative solutions to tough product design, engineering, development, manufacturing, and distribution challenges for nearly fifty years. Leveraging the latest supply chain technologies, 200,000 square feet of company-owned facilities, and access to a highly diversified global sourcing network, we help companies worldwide defy disruption, capitalize on emerging opportunities, and bring successful products to market.

innovative leadership

Innovation: An evolving concept

The concept of innovation has continued to evolve in response to ongoing management science studies, industry developments, and market challenges. The challenges of COVID-19, in particular, have driven home the need for leaders to understand and practice innovation as more than just a design application. (Such as it relates to product design, supply chain design, or organizational design.)

Beyond innovative design applications

The Innovative Design Applications are core competencies of competitive companies, and our leadership team at Pivot cannot overstate their importance. But successfully navigating the challenges of an environment of increased risk and unpredictability requires that leaders also innovate their mental models. Peter Senge, senior lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management, defines a mental model as “A deeply held internal image of how the world works — an image that limits us to familiar ways of thinking and acting.”

The Mental models are essentially personal algorithms. As the name suggests, they are conceptual representations of how different scenarios, and the part we play in them, are assumed to necessarily play out.

Why leaders must innovate their mental models

Innovation has been a key term and area of interest in management science for well over two decades. The Mental models determine the range of possibilities we can perceive. This means they also dictate the degree of choice we have in making sense of and responding to any given situation. Especially in times of disruption or market volatility, the ability to perceive a wide range of possibilities is critical for identifying alternative paths forward, implementing novel solutions, and acting on emerging opportunities.

For this reason, our leadership teams at Pivot place a premium on continually innovating the concrete design applications of our business as well as our mental models. Both are critical competencies for the collaborative partnerships we form with our customers and for devising customized solutions for protecting our partners against disruption and driving their growth in challenging times.

Innovating your mental model with five mindset shifts

Innovating your mental model begins with making fundamental mindset shifts on how you conceive strategy, structure, process, people, and technology. Because these mindsets represent challenges to and revisions of common mental models, they run counter to many established ways of thinking about things. In practice, however, they open up a larger field of possibility, choice, and innovative action.

1. Strategy Mindset Shift

From: Resources are scarce, and success is about extracting value for our shareholders from competitors, customers, and suppliers.

To: There is an abundance of opportunities for those with the eyes to see them, and success is about generating win-win solutions for all stakeholders.

2. Structure Mindset Shift

From: Unless teams are given only small amounts of freedom and tightly managed, they will lack clear direction, prioritize their personal interests over the company’s, and perform under par.

To: When allowed to be self-directive in the service of achieving a shared goal, team members will feel greater personal ownership as well as greater mutual accountability. Investment in their performance will increase and drive synergistic solutions.

3. Process Mindset Shift

From: Key objectives and initiatives must come from the C-suite or upper management, along with clearly mapped paths for achieving them to ensure mistakes don’t occur in the process of execution.

To: The organization as a networked whole must define and adapt in real-time to a continually changing environment. Mistakes are intrinsic to innovation; the goal is not to prevent them but rather to rapidly learn from them to advance the innovation process.

4. People Mindset Shift

From: The role of leadership is to “steer” the organization and “align” the culture, set the agenda, establish rules of engagement, and define corporate identity.

To: Understanding that “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Because leadership is embedded in the organization and therefore part of it, the culture can be meaningfully innovated only from within through the collective participation of all who comprise it.

5. Technology Mindset Shift

From: Technology investment is limited to specialized aspects of the business according to specific needs or budget restrictions.

To: Technological investment is a top priority and is seamlessly integrated at every scale of the organization to support coordinated action and agility in response to the needs of stakeholders and dynamic market conditions.

Innovation has never been more essential to gaining and maintaining a competitive advantage. If you’re seeking an innovative partner to help your company defy disruption and bring a product to market, Pivot brings a trusted track record with companies worldwide. With product development expertise that spans fourteen industries, including medical, industrial, security and defense, we deliver the top talent, supply chain solutions, and extensive ISO and ISE certifications to help your company successfully scale. Contact us today to learn more about how a partnership with Pivot can help you achieve your business objectives.