The Innovation Mindset with Natalie Turner

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“If we think about human history, we’ll see that innovation is and has always been our survival skill.“ – Natalie Turner

I had the opportunity to speak with Natalie Turner, the founder and CEO of The Entheo Network, an innovation and lifestyle company. Natalie has served as a corporate innovation director, business consultant, and entrepreneur for the past 25 years. 

She has helped the world’s leading organizations grow their teams, businesses, and capabilities and build innovation systems, and is the author of Yes, You Can Innovate, as well as the creator of The Six ‘I’s of Innovation—a model that helps people evaluate their innovation strengths to harness diversity and create greater impact.

We discuss: 

  • Defining innovation and its different aspects
  • The Six I’s of Innovation and its background
  • How The Six I’s apply to everyday life

Defining innovation and its different aspects

Defining innovation and its different aspects

Natalie defines innovation as: “Coming up with something valuable out of an idea that is new to you and generating value out of those ideas.” 

This definition goes beyond creativity and banks on bringing tangible value into the world through invention and implementation. 

“I like to think of innovating as a verb,” Natalie says. “In a way, it's our survival skill. It always has been. If we think of human history, it's always been people doing new things, always moving us forward. Now more than ever, I think we need innovation in all walks of life.” 

From politics to personal living, innovation should have a seat at the table. If we aren’t innovating, we aren’t moving forward, and if we don't move forward, we risk sliding backward. 

If we look at the entire picture of innovation, it breaks out into three P’s: 

  1. Purpose-driven
  2. People-driven
  3. Planet-driven 

Without purpose, people, and planetary consideration, innovation falls flat. Why are we innovating? For who? What is the planetary impact? By considering these factors, we align our strategy with real-world value.

The Six ‘I’s of Innovation and its background

The Six ‘I’s of Innovation and its background

While working as a corporate innovation director in a large research firm, Natalie noticed a pattern among early-stage innovation companies. 

“When the ideas went back into the organization, a lot of them got stuck, or they got diluted of novelty, or other priorities came on board and organizations moved on.” She explains. “And all that time, all that effort and energy that people would expend on creating these new ideas and solutions, didn't go anywhere a lot of the time.”

They needed a form of innovation that would still build on all the positive aspects of creativity and design thinking while bringing an organizational element to the innovation journey. That way, innovation could move into implementation, not solely ideation.

Driven by this goal, Natalie devised The Six I’s of Innovation:

  1. Identify—curiosity, surveying environments, and spotting an opportunity
  2. Ignite—creativity, a lightbulb moment that sparks a solution
  3. Investigate—critical thinking, troubleshooting, and determining the ‘how’
  4. Invest—courage, deciding to try something new
  5. Implement—commitment, getting our hands dirty, and building
  6. Improve—clever, continuous improvement and iteration

These six elements are not a linear journey. When moving through the six I’s, we’ll be going backward and forward as needed, depending on the unique situation or project. 

Each “I” spells out a critical step along the path of innovation that increases the chance of successful implementation and reduces the prospect of wasted energy.

When we’re taking on a new project, it’s critical to pause and consider what stage of the process we’re in and what phase could use more attention. Purpose is the center of innovation.

“We need to be thinking about what process will help me or help us in each of these stages and what cultural environments we need to cultivate so that people can do this successfully.” Natalie shares.

How The Six I’s apply to everyday life

How The Six I’s apply to everyday life

Modeling the mindsets of curiosity, creativity, critical thinking, courage, commitment, and cleverness in our daily lives is a natural part of our psyche. However, sometimes we forget the power we have in leveraging those qualities. 

Ask yourself what quality comes naturally to you. Are you an igniter like Natalie? Do you love the spark of ideation and creativity? Or, do you sway more into investigating, where the how of it all is in the spotlight, and you get to use your problem-solving?

We can use these strengths to build systems and patterns that cut waste and make the most crucial aspects shine. From meal prep to relationships, innovation has grounds if we know how to move through each stage.

“The more we become observant of how we think, the better we get at it.” Natalie points out. “Because we can think, ‘Where am I now? Which stage of the journey am I at? Therefore, which mindset do I need to be wearing?’”

Once we determine which stage the situation calls for, we can decide if we need reinforcement, can handle it on our own, or some combination of the two. And from there, work towards tangible value.

Which of the six I’s do you identify with most? How could you apply this model to your life in business or at home?

Be sure to check out Natalie’s full episode for further insight into The Six I’s of Innovation and learn more at!