Filed under: Experience
Innovation is undoubtedly the ‘secret sauce’ of business success. The good news is, the ability to innovate is a learnable skill — at least according to three researchers from INSEAD, Brigham Young and Harvard in their new study conducted over a six-year period.
‘Our research showed that at most companies, top executives do not feel personally responsible for coming up with strategic innovations,’ said Hal Gregersen of INSEAD. ‘True innovators rely on their courage to innovate and a willingness to take risks.’
Most innovative leaders possess five key “discovery skills” that distinguish them from their less creative colleagues:
- Associating – The ability to successfully connect seemingly unrelated questions, problems, or ideas from different fields, is central to the innovator’s DNA. The world’s most innovative companies prosper by capitalising on the divergent associations of their founders, executives, and employees.
- Questioning – Innovators constantly ask honest questions that challenge common wisdom or ‘question the unquestionable.’ While most managers focus on how to make existing processes – the status quo – work better, innovative entrepreneurs are more likely to challenge assumptions.
- Observing – Discovery-driven executives produce uncommon business ideas by scrutinizing common phenomena, especially the behaviour of potential customers.
- Experimenting – Using the world as their laboratory, innovative entrepreneurs actively try out new ideas by creating prototypes and launching pilots. Most engage in some form of active experimentation, whether it is intellectual exploitation, physical tinkering, or engagement in new surroundings.
- Networking – Innovative entrepreneurs devote time and energy to finding and testing ideas through a network of diverse individuals in order to develop radically different perspectives. Unlike most executives who network to access resources, innovators go out of their way to meet people with different kinds of ideas and perspectives to extend their own knowledge domains.
The five skills, Gregersen says, are ‘a habit, a practice, a way of life’ for innovators.
Although Gregersen and his co-authors use the DNA metaphor, innovative entrepreneurs are actually made or developed, rather than born. “We each have unique, fixed physical DNA,” says Gregersen, “but in terms of creativity, we each have a unique set of learnable skills that we rely on in order to get to the ideas that will give us some insight.” Research involving identical twins suggests that only about 20-25 per cent of our creativity ability is geneticically driven. “This means the other 75-80 per cent comes from the world we live in,”
9 Comments so far
Leave a comment