Innovation and Inspiration: Igniting Ingenuity - Angela Mangiapane

Inspiration And Insights
4 min readSep 16, 2023

Numerous studies conclude that innovation fuels business success. But what’s the secret link between the two?

We’re talking with Angela Mangiapane, a passionate leader who’s been an innovator and an initiator for more than three decades. She also serves as the chair of Economics of Mutuality, a groundbreaking management innovation that empowers businesses to thrive by meeting the needs of the world.

Angela, you’ve said innovation cuts across all aspects of business. What’s your approach to innovation?

As leaders, I believe we have an obligation to create an environment that empowers our people, from interns to long-term Associates, to feel they’re capable of creating meaningful change. That means developing a culture of innovation, one that reinforces the perspective that great ideas can — and do! — come from anyone and everywhere. I call it the “ingenuity of the human spirit,” and it’s key to solving challenges, keeping products and services on the leading edge, and creating a highly energized community.

One lesson I’ve learned that I try to instill within my teams to help drive innovation is the concept of “unlearning to relearn.” This means pushing ourselves to rethink old processes in new ways and developing fresh approaches to traditional functions — all with a people-first mindset and a focus on value creation. We do that by being curious: asking questions, learning new capabilities, and understanding the perspective of those at the receiving end of our actions. Innovation often means learning from failure. If we don’t fail sometimes, then maybe we’re not trying hard enough.

You’ve said innovation applies to workplace culture. Share with us how that happens.

An innovative approach to the workplace is seeing work through a different lens than we’ve used over the past 150 years, moving beyond titles and categories to living our individual and shared sense of purpose and passion. Innovation thrives when we can all fulfill our individual roles while bringing our diversity of thought and experience to the collective.

Sometimes, our innovative cultures may need a reboot. We talk a lot about onboarding new hires, but what are we doing about “reboarding”? Associates who’ve been around for a while may need to rediscover the joy in their jobs and in turn, their creative power. Or, when work conditions significantly shift, as they did during the pandemic, a restart may be in order — to bring everyone back onboard and reignite the shared spark.

What role does diversity have in innovation?

It plays a huge part. Studies have found companies with a more ethnic and culturally diverse workforce are more likely to outperform their peers, as diverse backgrounds can yield diverse thinking and a more innovative approach to product creation and service delivery. Diversity is not only key to corporate growth strategy, but also to the well-being and well-becoming culture we’ve talked about before.

Yet my hope is one day, we’ll reach a new point altogether. We’ll no longer need to spotlight that we have people at the table from different social and ethnic backgrounds, or genders, or sexual orientations. Instead, our assumption will be universal: we have a group of wonderful human beings, who bring their diverse skills and intellects to the table — and their shared ingenuity of the human spirit.

We appreciate all you do to innovate and inspire, Angela. Thank you!

Connect with Angela on LinkedIn.

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A values-driven and human-centric leader, Angela Mangiapane brings to business and board service a creative transformation perspective — at the intersection of financial progress, social good, and human capital investment. She has served in a variety of leadership roles throughout her career and is currently channeling her expertise into board service. Angela is chair of Economics of Mutuality, a public interest foundation devoted to transforming the economic system through creating a mutuality of benefits among all stakeholders. She also serves as co-chair of the Conference Board, a global nonprofit “think tank,” as well as on the advisory board of SSON, a professional networking group for high-level professionals.

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