How to Develop An Innovator’s Mindset At Your School

“Mindset change is not about picking up a few pointers here and there. It’s about seeing things in a new way. When people…change to a growth mindset, they change from a judge-and-be-judged framework to a learn-and-help-learn framework. Their commitment is to growth, and growth take plenty of time, effort, and mutual support.” – Carol Dweck [footnote] Mindset: The New Psychology of Success [/footnote]

What is the Innovator’s Mindset?

When I first read Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset, I was blown away by the simplicity of her idea and work. Most of us operate in a fixed mindset, where we are constantly trying to prove how good we are at something. Yet, the most successful people in the world [footnote] As demonstrated by the multitude of studies, piles of research, data, and stories shared in Dweck’s book…you should probably read it if you have not read it yet! [/footnote] have a growth mindset, where they focus on getting better, improving, and learning from failures along the way.

So, when I heard George Couros was coming out with a book titled, The Innovator’s MindsetI was pumped to see how it took this simple idea of mindset to another level, and from a different angle. To start, I want to share with you the definition of the innovator’s mindset from George:

Belief that abilities, intelligence, and talents are developed leading to the creation of new and better ideas.

But, let’s dig a bit deeper. This definition from George explains that abilities, intelligence, and talents can all be developed (therefore they are growth not fixed) and because of this fact, we can assume that every individual has the opportunity to create new and better ideas.

To break that down even further, let’s look at the “8 Characteristics of the Innovator’s Mindset” (in an awesome sketch by Sylvia Duckworth):



Pretty cool, right?

I really embraced these ideas before the book, and now that the book was out, I wanted to find out more about this mindset and how it could impact my work as a school leader.

While reading the book, I took time to answer the questions at the end of each chapter, and some lessons and shifts began to take form in my head. A colleague of mine was also reading the book, so we would chat about what we thought, text when there was a particularly funny or moving part, and see how this all could play out in our schools.

I took away a few key lessons and ideas from this book that I want to share below.

Lessons Learned on How to Develop This Mindset

1. Everyone Can Be a Leader

One of the main takeaways for me was the notion that anyone (at any position in the organization) can be a leader. Sometimes as a teacher you feel helpless in moving your school forward and doing innovative work. However, the stories George shares puts all different people (not just administrators) in the spotlight for their work in propelling these ideas and conversations to happen and have an impact on the teaching and learning happening.

2. Innovation Starts with Conversation

George said this in a recent interview about the book:

I did not want to write a book that told people how to become an innovative school, because that is the exact opposite of the idea.  It is meant to push conversations forward, while also providing ideas and inspiration for schools to become places where creativity flourishes.  This will only happen if this book becomes the start to a conversation, not the end of it.

The book sparks conversation (as I mentioned with the questions at the end of each chapter) and the hashtag #innovatorsmindset was cool to check out as I was reading as well. But, I can’t wait to read it with more colleagues. That conversation is what really sparked some innovative ideas that we could work on right now at our school.

3. Networks Build Capacity for Innovation

Your professional and personal network is where the conversations happen that lead to innovation. Depending on the size and type of network, you’ll see varying levels of new ideas. The key is to use a network to build on an idea and make it better. Use people (your network) as a resource to refine and shape what could be in your school (and other schools around the world). The stories George share about networks makes me value the community we have on this blog and through the interwebs. [footnote] Interwebs is such a fun word to say. In fact, I’m not even sure it is a word. But I’m going to use it more often regardless 🙂 [/footnote]

4. Stories Spread Innovative Ideas

The book is filled with amazing stories. In fact, that is most of what I remember when I share the book with someone and they ask how it was. I remember the stories. I also want to share the stories. Because stories are what move us forward and bring us together around an idea (or character/person). Stories spread innovation so you need to be able to share them online (a blog) and spread the message far and wide (a PLN through social network).

If you do read The Innovator’s Mindset I’d love to hear your thoughts. Share them on this post, George’s blog (and facebook page), and of course the hashtag #innovatorsmindset all over the interwebs [footnote] Told you I would use it again! [/footnote]

Innovators Mindset #2

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