I was asked recently to share my definition of innovation as well as the characteristics of successful innovators. Here is my response.
Innovation: the process of creating and implementing an idea that generates significant positive change.
What are the characteristics of successful innovators?
1. Intellectual curiosity - a deep and persistent desire to learn new things, explore beyond one’s base of expertise, to read broadly, and to ask excellent questions
2. Growth mindset – a belief that abilities are not fixed traits, but instead can always be improved.
3. Collaboration – You must be able to work with others, because the "lone genius" theory of innovation is a myth.
4. Integrative thinking – Roger Martin argues integrative thinkers “have the predisposition and the capacity to hold in their heads two opposing ideas at once. And then, without panicking or simply settling for one alternative or the other, they’re able to creatively resolve the tension between those two ideas by generating a new one that contains elements of the others but is superior to both.”
5. Connectors – the ability to draw unique connections among seemingly unrelated concepts from different fields.
6. Grit – perseverance and passion in pursuit of long-term goals
7. Tolerance for failure – willingness to experiment and prototype, accept feedback, adapt quickly, and cut your losses when appropriate.