Saturday, June 23, 2012

Essential qualities of innovator

Dan Pallotta wrote a blog article on Harvard Business Review yesterday about how you don't need a PhD to innovate.  After reading his blog (which I completely agree with), I started to wonder what essential qualities of innovator are.

It's easy to see that innovator needs to recognize a problem and solve it by asking whys and hows.  But what kind of qualities help a person create a solution that others have difficult time coming up with?

After a bit of Google, I created tag cloud from top 3 Google results of 'innovator qualities':
The Heart of Innovation: 20 Qualities of an Innovator
Innovation Excellence | 7 Core Qualities of an Innovator
The Five Qualities of the Consummate Innovator
Searching Google gave me a few ideas of how people think of innovators, and also how act of 'innovation' is defined by people.  From my experience, I think all these qualities can be boiled down to these:

1. Recognizes problem or opportunity and goes after it
2. Loves learning new things from everyone even from failures, critics, and other disciplines.
3. Collaborates to be creative so that team can create a better solution than any one member can think of
4. Never gives up and uses failure as learning opportunity to build on

I believe these are fundamental building blocks of being an innovator.  As I was writing them down, I debated myself whether I should add #5: sense of humor.  

If you are too focused and inflexible in your approach to solving a problem, you are less able to be creative and collaborate.  In order to tap into creative right brain, you have to know how to loosen up and be ready for surprises.  It's opposite of focusing on the task because you cannot see outside of box when your nose is pressed up against the problem that you are trying to solve.

But ultimately having sense of humor is prerequisite to being able to collaborate creatively, which is part of #3.

Let's see.  That means everyone can be innovator if we learn hot to recognize a problem or opportunity.  Any one with cool ideas?

Not every idea is good idea to go after;
talk to your friends about it before pursuing your new product idea.

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