We all generate ideas. Some of them are fantastic. But not all of us turn them into innovations. So what sets apart people who do become strong business innovators?
Harvard Business Review examined research into key common characteristics of innovative people. Aside from creativity, the five are:
1. Creativity – helps identifying problems in the first place.
2. An opportunistic mindset, helping them identify market gaps.
3. Formal education/training, helping noticing (or interpreting events as) opportunities – quite contrary to the ‘college drop-out startup‘ popularised by high-profile figures like Gates, Jobs, Zuckerberg et al. And thanks to the proliferation of free online business courses from reputable universities, this education doesn’t have to be time-consuming or requiring strong commitment.
4. Productivity and high persistence, helping exploitation of those opportunities (in a resilient manner).
5. Prudence – being organised, cautious, and risk-averse – but not to say success can breed entirely from one’s comfort-zone, as Richard Branson discussed!
6. Social capital, helps mobilise resources and build strong networks.
In short, there is no point in just hoping for a breakthrough idea – what matters is the ability to generate many ideas, discover the right opportunities to develop them, and act with drive and dedication to achieve a meaningful goal.
The article makes an important point, that these factors point to personal attributes, rather than answering ‘what makes an idea innovative/valuable’. There is too much disagreement on that front. Also it is important to recognise that creativity alone doesn’t engender success; implementation of that creativity is vital.
Full article: The Five Characteristics of Successful Innovators (HBR).
Image credits: MagCloug.com.