Innovative Thinking explained

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Innovative Thinking: this article explains Innovative Thinking or creative thinking in a practical way. This article highlights besides the background, the definition and four step innovation process also the importance of repetition and application. After reading you will understand the basics of this strategy tool. Enjoy reading!

Innovative Thinking takes courage

There is no organization in the world that does not wish for higher productivity or growth. However, this requires innovation and reform. Large ground-breaking pioneers such as Apple, Virgin and Toyota are proof of that. They are all market leaders and they remain far ahead of the competition. But how do they do that?

By joining creativity and innovation and by fully deploying this when launching new products and services. Moreover, they are major investors in innovation by Innovative Thinking.

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This is what many businesses lack: courage. Despite the fact that it is obvious that innovation creates growth, many organizations are afraid of making a leap of faith.

What is Innovative Thinking? The definition

The American business consultants David S. Weiss and Claude P. Legrand developed the ‘four-step innovation process’ called innovative thinking to encourage businesses to embrace more innovation and innovative ideas.

By using Innovative Thinking, businesses are better able to be open to change and innovation and as a result they have the courage to invest in creativity and new ideas.

Innovative Thinking is out of the box

Weiss and Legrand are convinced that innovation by innovative thinking in each business leads to growth. Through out of the box thinking, the level of innovation can be greatly improved within a business.

Albert Einstein had already indicated that ‘the true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination’. So by literally thinking out of the box, good ideas and practical solutions can be created.

Four step innovation process

Weiss and Legrand guarantee that by using the four steps of innovative thinking, businesses will be able to get more out of their creativity and that they will realize the importance of innovation:

  1. Define SMART Goals in which innovation is applicable and can be used. At the same time, the employees must be trained to see the necessity of innovation.
  2. Initiate innovation workshops, in which employees are encouraged to participate in the lateral thinking process. This will help them understand the importance of innovation.
  3. Implement new ideas at an early stage of the development, so that possible resistance will be minimized and employees will be better able to cope with change.
  4. Evaluate the application and the progress of the innovation.


After step four has been executed, the first step in the cycle can be started up again. In this repetition it is less important to inform the employees about the necessity of innovation as they have become used to this innovative thinking process. There is even a chance that new ideas arise spontaneously.


There are businesses that use creativity techniques for the implementation of the Innovative Thinking in which their staff is encouraged to produce creative ideas. It is the challenge to find new combinations of technical opportunities and market needs.

In order to work out the ‘golden idea’ a good backing within the organization is a requirement to realize the detailed concept.

Those in favour of the innovation have a decisive impact on how people form their opinions. External parties are important success factors and this is why it is advisable to involve them in the innovation process.

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It’s Your Turn

What do you think? Is Innovative Thinking still applicable in today’s modern fast economy? Do you recognize the practical explanation or do you have more additions? What are your success factors for a good competitive advantage strategy?

Share your experience and knowledge in the comments box below.

More information

  1. Legrand, C., & LaJoie, R. (2013). How Service Innovation Boosts Bottom Lines. Technology Innovation Management Review, (September 2013: Managing Innovation for Tangible Performance).
  2. Weiss, D. S., & Molinaro, V. (2010). The leadership gap: Building leadership capacity for competitive advantage. John Wiley.
  3. Weiss, D. S., & Legrand, C. (2011). Innovative Intelligence: The Art and Practice of Leading Sustainable Innovation in Your Organization. John Wiley.

How to cite this article:
Mulder, P. (2013). Innovative Thinking. Retrieved [insert date] from Toolshero:

Original publication date: 10/21/2013 | Last update: 05/23/2023

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Patty Mulder
Article by:

Patty Mulder

Patty Mulder is an Dutch expert on Management Skills, Personal Effectiveness and Business Communication. She is also a Content writer, Business Coach and Company Trainer and lives in the Netherlands (Europe).
Note: all her articles are written in Dutch and we translated her articles to English!


2 responses to “Innovative Thinking explained”

  1. Jivansutra Navachar says:

    Hi, thanks for letting know us about the importance of innovation and creativity in business and life. Also I think the power of imagination in the formation of innovative ideas can never be underestimated. The Four step innovation process discussed above is a great involvement in the article. Cheers!

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