Creating the right mindset for great innovation

Kate Jones, Senior Principal in the STRAT7 Advisory team, reveals how to create the ideal mindset for 'aha moments' during innovation sessions by overcoming three common obstacles.

After weeks of preparation, everything is set for your innovation session. The team have the time in their diaries, you’ve designed some fun and creative exercises and you’ve even heard that a senior team member will stop by later. But there’s one essential ingredient which is all too often forgotten – the right mindset for ‘aha moments’. 

An aha moment can be the turning point in an innovation project… the spark which motivates the team… the inflexion point that changes direction for the better. It is often a peculiar combination of intuitive simplicity which also challenges the status quo.  

The right mindset is essential to unearth and build on powerful insights. The ideal frame of mind is open-minded, uncynical and comfortable with ambiguity. But it can be tough to park the biases which stand in the way of reaching those breakthrough moments. 

At STRAT7 Advisory, our experience has taught us a lot about shaping the conditions and context for the right innovation mindset.  

Challenge 1

Being closed off to new possibilities – Rejecting new ways of seeing the situation or being hesitant to take risks due to worries about failure or negative consequences. 

Why this can occur:

On a cultural level, a ‘no’ mindset can take hold in organisations where leadership themselves are conservative, especially if more innovative approaches have proved unsuccessful in the past.   

The behavioural bias Loss Aversion can also add further context to this mindset. We feel the pain of a loss more strongly than the joy of a gain. This can make us prone to avoiding the potential risks of new ideas or a change in approach, if the conditions are right. 

How you can address this:

First of all, create a field for innovation by setting a clear objective and agreed set of guardrails at the start, within which any innovation is deemed ‘safe’.  

Another way to encourage team members to lose their mental baggage is to forget they’re themselves at all. How would someone they admire for their creativity and leadership tackle this challenge – Steve Jobs? Or Lady Gaga? This can encourage team members to shift into a more open, problem-solving mindset. 

Challenge 2

Not putting oneself in the user’s shoes – Seeing things too much through the lens of one’s own experience, forgetting that they aren’t the user.  

Why this can occur:

When organisations aren’t consumer centric enough or when team members aren’t close to the needs of consumers it can mean that central insights and perspectives are missed. On a behavioural level, Confirmation Bias can mean it feels easy to anchor too much to our own experience and look for ideas which confirm our own world view. 

How you can address this:

Immersing participants in the point of view and experiences of their end users is central, especially their emotional and sensorial experience. There are so many ways to bring the voice of the consumer into the innovation process, whether through co-creation, qualitative exploration (especially in-home visits), videos or even vivid scenarios written from the consumer’s perspective. When the challenge has a sensorial experience at its heart eg, health conditions or disabilities, empathy boxes enable teams to experience the tensions first hand can add a further dimension.

Challenge 3

Playing it too safe – An unwillingness to break norms, disagree and disrupt

Why this can occur:

When working in a team, especially with colleagues who you know well, we can often stick to group norms and suppress dissenting ideas to maintain the harmony of the group. This can lead to teams converging on a weak but familiar solutions too quickly and not taking the time to explore for stronger ideas. This is particularly relevant when an authority figure eg, a senior team member expresses a strong preference or point of view. 

How you can address this:

Facilitators can design for ‘group think’ by creating opportunities for individual work or sense-checking in pairs where group think is less likely to be at play. They can also address group think or social norms head on, recognising when norming is occurring and encouraging the team to flip norms on their head eg, for a consumer health company creating a new format for their pain relief treatment, instead of being a white pill with a bitter, unpleasant taste, what if it was the opposite?

To hear more about STRAT7 Advisory’s approach to innovation challenges, please reach out to us.


Joe Lockey

Senior Analyst

Joe joined us after completing rotations across our consumer, services and health sectors, whilst gaining exposure to both qualitative and quantitative research techniques.


Alice Hedlund


Alice has experience in customer-centric growth, brand strategy and innovation at global scale. She specialises in brand transformation journeys, bridging the gap between business and brand strategy to create holistic and actionable plans for impactful growth.

Helen Donald


Job Title

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cilum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. 

Tom Carvell


Tom has a science background with a PhD in Materials Chemistry. He has spent most of his career working on in-house front-end innovation where he delivered mid/long term strategic projects for brands such as Durex, Scholl, Veet and KY. He is focussed on delivering pragmatic but provocative innovation strategy for CPG categories.

Manick Pratheeban

Senior Principal

Manick is a brand strategy and consumer insight specialist with 15+ years’ experience helping to grow some of the world’s biggest brands. He has a proven track record of translating trends, consumer, and market data into actionable insights to formulate growth strategies.

Kate Jones

Senior Principal

Kate has over a decade of experience in creating transformative strategies for customer-focused businesses. With a background in consumer insight and behaviour change across consumer health, packaged goods, leisure, banking and other sectors she focuses on elevating the customer experience to create human-centric innovations and foster impactful growth.

Jacob Gascoine-Becker


Jacob specialises in leveraging consumer research to inform investment strategy and business case development. A management consultant since 2014, he previously spent eight years working in ecommerce and digital marketing.

Ines Achabal

Senior Analyst

Ines is inately curious and creative. She is known for her expansive thinking when exploring client challenges and elevating the visual quality of outputs to maximise their impact.

Helene Mills


Helene has 20+ years’ experience advising business leaders and investors on growth strategy based upon consumer and market intelligence. Her particular specialism lies in leisure, retail, food and beverage sectors.

Helen Donald

Helen Donald


Helen has consulted businesses at different stages of growth across a variety of sectors, specialising in consumer packaged goods and consumer healthcare. She is an adept strategist, bringing clarity to the most complex of situations and connecting dots to create rich, future-proofed platforms for innovation, brand positioning and growth.

Allan Chen STRAT7 Advisory

Allan Chen

Senior Principal

Allan’s core skillset provides an analytical and commercial lens to address client challenges. He started his career as an actuary, and since then has held a broad range of strategic roles, improving performance across the private and public sector.


Björn Dufwenberg

Managing Director​

Björn has 15+ years’ experience in insight-driven transformation, across management consulting, as well as brand and innovation agency roles. Most recently he headed up the Customer-Led Transformation practice at PwC Sweden, until joining STRAT7 in 2021. He’s worked on global projects covering consumer goods, durables, spirits and beverages, retail, banking, and private equity.

Kamilla Dala

Senior Principal

Kamilla has 10+ years’ experience leading and implementing insight-driven transformation within global matrix organisations in durable and consumable goods. Areas of expertise cover segmentation, uncovering and translating actionable consumer insights within innovation, product development, brand positioning, strategy and marketing.