Expert Manufacturing Advice tailored for step-by-step implementation in the workplace. Small Manufacturers, Machine Shops and CAD Engineers improve and thrive with our hands-on help. The Importance of an Innovative Mind-set Essential Product Development for Engineers

The Importance
of an Innovative Mind-set

Essential Product Development for Engineers

The Importance of an Innovative Mind-set

Ideally, small manufacturers should aim for innovative thinking throughout the organisation – from board members who appreciate the competitive advantage innovation delivers, to innovation champions making it happen at supervisory and managerial level, through to shop floor employees and apprentices offering good ideas, enthusiasm and a fresh pair of eyes. The points below illustrate the importance of an innovative mind-set for small manufacturing businesses.

Innovative small manufacturers are better positioned to meet challenges now and in the future, more so than their conventional competitors. For example, the challenge of a new, low cost entrant in a market sector is a potential threat to any manufacturing business. An creative mind-set gives you the ability to start thinking quickly about responses, like added value through improved service, better functionality and an increased emphasis on quality. Alternatively, with innovation at the core of your business you have the confidence to  consider value engineering existing products, to reduce costs and improve function, or go for a more radical solution like new product introduction.


Employees embedded deep within the business can also exercise innovative thinking to make all sort of improvements, which when combined, drive business success. For example, shop floor employees, perhaps working at a production cell or work station, can and should volunteer new and improved ways of doing things. This may include small but significant process improvements, as well as engineering design changes for the product. As such, lean manufacturing and product development through value engineering are at the heart of innovation for small manufacturers. An employee creative mind-set is key to making this happen.


A innovative mind-set gets all employees thinking about how this might be achieved. What can you specifically do differently to make improvements? In addition, employees with an innovative mind-set are more progressive, dynamic and prepared to try something new. The is a refreshing change from risk aversion, cynicism and good old fashioned ‘stick your head in the sand’ and hope the problem goes away. Countless manufacturing firms and whole sectors have perished because they’ve not responded, until it was too late. 


Thinking creatively is aided by having an open mind - the very definition of an innovative mind-set. The innovative small business will encourage employees to keep up and be aware of develops in their industry and in others. Horizon scanning and formal continued professional development assist this.

  • What are the technological developments and trends to watch out for in your industry sector?
  • Are you linked in to the networks in your industry that matter?
  • Have you and your colleagues got access to industry news, trade publications, relevant data and published reports?
  • What formal or casual links have you got to trade groups and academia, with relevant new ideas, research and potential solutions to problems?

Thinking more broadly about innovation is key to benefiting in full.

Innovative Mind-set

5 Practical Tips for More Innovative Thinking 

Innovation Tips That Will Change the Way You Think from

Next... Innovation – Technology, Business and People Skills

Back to Product Development Essentials 

When was the last time your business developed a NEW product? ...Or is 'Product Development' too far removed from your core Production Engineering activities?

Does your firm have a clear product development process, with a number of new products released to date? ...Or alternatively, do you think bread and butter production engineering is really what matters? Tell us about your product development experiences...

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