Harbinger Consultants

Culture + Complexity + Change

INNOVATION | Study on the Keys to Innovation

I’ve just been reading about research that has identified the five secrets to being a great innovator. According to a report on CNN’s Executive Education website, professors from Harvard Business School, Insead and Brigham Young University have just completed a six-year study of more than 3,000 executives and 500 innovative entrepreneurs, that included interviews with high-profile entrepreneurs including Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Michael Dell, founder of Dell computers.

They have identified five skills that drive innovation:

  • Associating: The ability to connect seemingly unrelated questions, problems or ideas from different fields
  • Questioning: Innovators constantly ask questions that challenge the common wisdom. They ask “why?”, “why not?” and “what if?”
  • Observing: Discovery-driven executives scrutinize common phenomena, particularly the behavior of potential customers
  • Experimenting: Innovative entrepreneurs actively try out new ideas by creating prototypes and launching pilots
  • Networking: innovators go out of their way to meet people with different ideas and perspectives

Identifying innovation as a set of ‘skills’ is a way of saying that anyone can be an innovator, especially through processes of stitching together different arrays of information, people and ideas.


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