 What makes innovators different from the rest of us?

- Is the ability to think creatively generic?
- Do they have the cognitive skills of a right brained?  “Think different” and “Act different”:

Ones ability to generate innovative ideas is not merely a function of the mind, but also a function of behavior. Innovative thinking may be innate in some, it can be developed and strengthened through practice.

2. 3.


Associating Questioning Observing Networking Experimenting

Innovators connect the dots to make unexpected connections. They combine pieces of what may seem unrelated pieces of information from different fields. This phenomenon was described as the “Medici effect”.

“Creativity is connecting things.” -Steve Jobs, founder and CEO, Apple Inc.

Example: Steve Jobs is able to generate ideas after ideas because he spent a lifetime exploring new and unrelated things like calligraphy, meditation, etc.

Innovators are consummate questioners who love to challenge common wisdom or status quo. Innovative entrepreneurs must:  Challenge assumptions  Imagine opposites “Question the unquestionable”  Embrace constraints -Ratan Tata, chairman, Tata Group Example: Michael Dell’s idea for founding Dell computer sprang from the question, “Why a computer costs 5 times as much as a sum of its parts?”

Innovators are intense observers. They fully watch the world around them- including customers, products, services, technologies and companies- and their observation help them gain insight into an ideas for new way of doing things.

Akio Toyoda regularly practices Toyota’s philosophy of genchi genbutsu- “going to the spot and seeing for yourself.”

Example: Ratan Tata observed families riding scooters in India and gained a powerful insight that inspired the world’s cheapest car, the Tata Nano.

Like scientists, innovative entrepreneurs actively try out new ideas by creating prototypes and launching pilots. Three forms of active exploration: “I haven’t failed…I’ve just found 1. Intellectual exploration. 10,000 ways that do not work.” 2. Physical tinkering. -Thomas Edison 3. Engagement in new surroundings. One of most powerful experiments is living and working overseas. Research revealed that more countries a person has lived in, the more likely he or she is to leverage that experience to deliver innovative product, processes, or businesses. Example: P&G’s A.G. Lafley.

Rather than simply doing social networking, innovators go out of their way to meet people with different ideas and perspectives to extend their own knowledge domains.
“The insights required to solve many of our most challenging problems come from outside our industry and scientific field.” -Kent Bowen, founding scientist of CPS technologies.

Example: Michael Lazaridis, founder of RIM, notes that the inspiration for the original Blackberry occurred at a conference in 1987 when a speaker was describing a wireless data system designed for Coke.

 Innovative entrepreneurship is an active endeavour.
 Innovators must consistently act different to think

different.  By understanding, reinforcing and modelling the innovator’s DNA, companies can find ways to more successfully develop the creative spark in everyone.

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