Who Are the Great Innovators Among Us?

Humans are innately concerned with what makes up the creative inventors among us. We want to know how to cultivate our inner innovator and nurture those qualities that will serve us both as individuals and as employees.

Mason Currey wrote a book called Daily Rituals, which studies the lives of over 150 inspiring personalities (from novelists and poets to mathematicians and politicians) and the habits that made up their creative life. He found artists who walked every day to philosophers who created chemical cocktails for inspiration.

The book was phenomenally well-received, I think because humans are innately concerned with what makes up the creative inventors among us. We want to know how to cultivate our inner innovator and nurture those qualities that will serve us both as individuals and as employees.

IdeaScale is, of course, deeply concerned with this question, as well, because we work with innovators all the time who want to be better and want to nurture other innovators at their organization, so we’ve done a lot of research into what makes someone successful in the field of innovation

In A Guide to Open Innovation and Crowdsourcing; Advice from Leading Experts in the Field, one of the authors writes “the open innovation professional is a rare breed – part entrepreneur, part deal maker, alliance manager, and part project manager.” We’ve found this to be true of the people who run IdeaScale programs. What this means is that the innovation professionals that we know are a peculiar (and rewarding) combination of risk-taker and diplomat. Here’s why you need both pieces of this puzzle:

Risk Takers

76% of innovators systematically encourage risk-taking. You have to be able to envision both success while risking failure. Rarely do stirring innovations surface from playing it safe. Certainly you’ll do all right with incremental innovation, but incremental innovation alone isn’t going to propel your brand into the next decade. You need someone with the vision to succeed, the courage to fail, and the resilience to do it all again.

Diplomats

Innovators also have to be diplomats, because we can’t think of any idea that has arrived without the help of a team. Innovators have be cheerleaders for great ideas, source alliances with the people who can deliver on ideas, they have to encourage everyone to feel good while they help everyone else move towards a common goal to realize a dream. It’s actually easier to be a great innovator if you have some qualities of charismatic leadership, teaching and deal making.

IdeaScale charted ten key characteristics of innovators from their conversations and research and created an infographic that tells you what to look for in innovators. You can download the infographic “10 Qualities of Great Innovators” on our blog.

By Rob Hoehn

About the author

Rob Hoehn is the co-founder and CEO of IdeaScale: the largest open innovation software platform in the world. Hoehn launched crowdsourcing software as part of the open government initiative and IdeaScale’s robust portfolio now includes many other industry notables, such as EA Sports, NBC, NASA, Xerox and many others. Prior to IdeaScale, Hoehn was Vice President of Client Services at Survey Analytics.

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