Innovation as a learning process

Innovation as a learning process

Approach the process with the right mindset and new ideas will come more easily

Innovation today isn’t simply about finding new ways or ideas of doing things to create new things. Sometimes, it’s also about reinventing what we already have into something better. The key to this is understanding the true needs of our customers.

With a new wave of the pandemic and a new level uncertainty looming over businesses and our lives today, innovation may seem to be the least of our problems. Survival is the top priority. But what if I were to tell you that innovation may be the key to survival?

Innovation is often defined as creating something new. However, true innovation is a constant process. You may be familiar with the design thinking process. Developed by the Stanford, design thinking doesn’t stop at the creation or production of something new. Nor does it even even begin with the objective of creating something new. It begins first and foremost with identifying customers’ pain points and needs.

In a previous article, we defined innovation as a learning process, not an end goal. In today’s environment, this is especially important as we don’t require new things; we need solutions to the new problems we are encountering today. This is the opportunity that businesses can grasp today.

When we think of innovation as a learning process, we must think about two elements for our learning.

First, we begin with developing the right mindset. Learning means being able to pull out the lessons from failure and getting back to work again. For many, this can be difficult and discouraging. But with a strong and positive mindset, these setbacks are merely lessons that can help you engage in better innovation.

In this scenario, developing a growth mindset and a learning mindset is important. This involves seeing every challenge as an opportunity to learn and grow. However, there’s another crucial element, not just for innovation but for the survival of business — the mindset that can drive sustainable business results.

We’re talking about the Outward Mindset. The original concept developed by the Arbinger Institute stated that humans have both an inward mindset, where we see others as obstacles to our goals, and an outward mindset, where we see others as people who can support us in the journey to achieving our goals.

When we carry out innovation, we don’t work alone. We work with people within our organisation, and often we work with other businesses as well. The outward mindset is especially powerful in this context, because people run every organisation, but sometimes we are not all on the same page. Developing an outward mindset helps broaden our own as well as our people’s perspectives so that we can drive business results with collective effort.

In the learning process, we also ultimately develop the skill sets. Developing the right skills in today’s world is important, not only to drive innovation but for businesses to survive. The context of our world is constantly changing, so we have to learn new things all the time. This is why organisations seek out training.

However, training alone cannot help us in today’s uncertain times. As a new wave of the pandemic takes hold, once again many of us find ourselves going back to virtual work.

Depending on the type of business you are in, your job position and roles and other factors, your learning will look different. Often, we can understand this through our situation and the context of our work.

When we innovate, we naturally learn new skills, and this is why the right mindset is an important basic foundation. Without a good mindset, whenever we face adversity or a setback, we will not learn from it, and we won’t develop the skills we need to face future challenges.

With the new wave of the pandemic and even more uncertainty about the state of the economy and our businesses, our lives have truly shifted into a never-ending new normal. In situations like these, we don’t necessarily need to think about creating something new, but something that can answer the ever-changing needs of consumers.

Innovation might not be the first thing you think about during a pandemic. But it is a culture we must establish in our organisations if we want to survive, thrive and grow. Ultimately, it’s not about the most innovative company with the fancy equipment, it’s about the company that can meet the needs of today’s new normal.

Arinya Talerngsri is Chief Capability Officer and Managing Director at SEAC – Southeast Asia’s Lifelong Learning Center. She can be reached by email at or Talk to us about how SEAC can help your business during times of uncertainty at 

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