The Power to Innovate - In Business and In Life - Part 2 Five individual traits to adopt for innovation success There

are five traits that I believe will help you be more innovative; they are represented in the acronym HUCCC (or as I like to say, "how do you see?") It stands for: * Humility. * Understanding. * Curiosity. * Creativity. * Confidence. HUMILITY Accept the fact that you really don't know it all, and be open to internal and external feedback. Jack Canfield told the story about a racing instructor he knew. The instructor said that his worst students were the executive types who came in 'already knowing it all.' And, once on the track, they would usually end up almost slamming into the wall. They were the worst students because, 'knowing it all,' they wouldn't listen. They lacked one of the most significant traits for new success - being teachable. This applies to innovation success as well. I was in a discussion with a manager recently who was frustrated about the level of innovation in her company. She said that, "The problem is the way we get market feedback. We don't listen to it. (Leadership) will continually run new focus groups until they get a group that says what they want to hear. If the outcome is not what they want to hear, it's viewed as if they must have targeted the wrong demographic."

Be open to (and this means actually listen to), and learn from, internal and external feedback. UNDERSTANDING "Seek first to Understand, then to be Understood" to quote Covey's fifth habit. Of his now eight habits he presents this one as the most important principle of interpersonal relations. I'd say it's one of the most important characteristics of innovation as well. You must clearly understand both what you are striving to accomplish and your end user / customer / client. In developing innovative new products, we accomplish this with our first two steps -- Criteria Definition, and Research & Observation. These steps may cycle back on each several times until we have a clear enough understanding to move into Concept Development. To get to the level of understanding that's behind the words, listen empathically for feeling and meaning. You'll begin to understand the pain one desires to avoid, or the pleasure that is sought. This will help bring understanding to true motivations, and will better increase your chances of creating an experience-defining innovation. Also, one simple way of gaining a better understanding is to continually ask, in different ways, "Tell me more about that" until there is nothing left to say. CURIOSITY Show up and be a sponge. One thing to get especially curious about is the emotional attachment people have to products and the underlying experiences and dreams. How can this help make a customers life more whole?

Good questions lead to more questions and stimulate curiosity. Ask a lot of "What if?" questions. What if it could... What if it were to... What if it did... What if it looked like... Be open. Be interested. Be a sponge. Be Curious. CREATIVITY So, you've opened your mind a bit, gained a new level of understanding, and you are now getting curious. As you adopt these three traits, creativity will naturally begin to flow. While artists, actors, writers, inventors, musicians and the like are often the ones labeled as 'creatives,' creativity authority and Harvard psychologist Howard Gardener views it differently. Dr. Gardner defines the creative individual as "a person who regularly solves problems, fashions products, or defines new questions in a way that is initially considered novel but that ultimately becomes accepted in a particular cultural setting." I'm going to discuss the fashioning of products in detail on Part IV of this series. For now, here is a quick creative problem solving exercise. Quickly, on one sheet of paper, write down an idea or problem that you're working on and the desired result. Then write down any definite criteria. Next, in a minute or two, write down 10 possible solutions. (at this stage it doesn't matter if they are realistic, just write as fast as possible.) Now, flip your paper over, start over, and write down the problem, desired result and criteria again. Next step - prime your brain. Stop and take a few minutes to think about someone you greatly admire - it may be a personal mentor, a parent, an expert, a fictional

character, etc. Once you have thought about them for a minute or two, ask, "How would ______(their name) solve this?" What might they do? What questions might they ask? Who might they call on for assistance? I've done this exercise with large groups and it is amazing what bubbles up when people become empowered in such a way. Doubt seems to be left behind and is replaced with confident direction. CONFIDENCE * There will always be new problems and challenges rearing their heads up to block the new and the innovative. Address them. * Ambiguity and adversity live at the doorstep of innovation. Get used to it. * An avalanche of new ideas will often appear as soon as you get focused. So get really good at saying no. (To quote Steve Jobs again, "it comes from saying no to 1,000 things to make sure we don't get on the wrong track or try to do too much.") If you aren't as confident as you'd like to be, here are four simple actions to move you to more solid ground: 1) Focus on the aspect(s) of your work that you enjoy and care about, 2) Respect the work you do, 3) Do all of your work as well as possible, and 4) Apply the tried and true "act as if" principle. Diligently enact these four and confidence will come. After reading through these five traits, do you see any differently? Being able to see and act with Humility, Understanding, Curiosity, Creativity, and Confidence, will give you the ability to innovate more effectively.

Applying these traits to your personal life will enhance the hues by which you see and live. The colors of life become richer. Do you seek to understand your spouse or do you just react? When I used to work as a therapist I found the phrase, "act effectively, rather than react predictably" very useful in helping people break patterns. I'd ask them to write them on sticky notes and put them in key places. Try it and re- define your challenge or goal with a bit of creativity - becoming more innovative means breaking old patterns that are holding you back. Get curious in your business and personal life. Move into the land of "What if..." and "as if." Ask yourself, "How do I see?"

ON THE HOME FRONT Here is the challenge I put forth in Part I: "What's something innovative -- that I can do, or a state within myself that I can access, or an attitude that I can utilize -- to help make the best life in the world for me, and for my family, TODAY?" In looking for something innovative on the home front I looked for something new and different to help grow my relationship. My wife and I got a set of camping gear a while back and we haven't used it yet. We decided that we are going to take a four day weekend in early April and go camping. This is something new and different that we both wanted to do for some time now. We've made reservations at a nice campground and are starting to plan the trip. We're looking forward to it!