There is no magic recipe for becoming an innovator nor can we pinpoint the exact characteristics of the one. What it takes is a specific type of person with just the right attitude, who believes in the idea and is willing to go the extra mile, or two, to make it happen. Sometimes luck does its own thing, yet behind a successful innovation, there stands complex planning, hard work and a team of people.
These are our picks for the top 10 traits most innovators share. Do you see yourself?
1. Thinking about the box from all of its angles
When it comes to innovators, most people see them as out-of-the-box thinkers. In reality, they take the box, look at it inside-out, all around, and from different angles, concurrently comparing it to the other boxes. They try to look at the bigger picture, while incorporating even the smallest of details. They often step out of their role and jump into the shoes of the consumer, re-thinking the whole idea with a fresh perspective. Innovators often see connections where others don’t and have a different approach when it comes to problem-solving because they dare to think differently. Which brings us to #2:
2. Dare to try
Because of their divergent way of thinking, they have the courage and audacity to try something that has never been done before or to try it in a totally different way, with an innovative twist. Even though facing a lot of doubt, they keep on going forward, working diligently on their idea. It takes a lot of mental, emotional and often physical strength to keep on going. These are the kind of people that not only wait for the opportunity to come by but continuously search for it and seize it as soon as they spot it. Often, they are the challengers of the status quo. They are not afraid to go into the unknown and face the biggest players out there, even though they are aware of the risks they are taking.
3. Be ready to take risks
Being a pioneer, although it brings many advantages, still has many risks involved at almost every step of the way. Innovators are often considered to be bold and big risk-takers, and in a way they are. But “behind the scene” there is a lot of planning, testing and experimenting along the way, not just blind leaps forward, although these sometimes happen as well. Alongside the financial, technical, marketing, and almost any risk imaginable, one of the biggest problems an innovator can have, once the idea is fully developed and hits the market, is wrong timing, and people just not being willing and ready to accept the innovation. But even so, an innovator is willing to accept the risk of failure and see it as a step closer to reaching the goal and a lesson well-learned for the next innovation.
4. Wake up the inner child
It is in our human nature to be curious and explore, and that is something that drives us forward as a species. As children we are all little explorers, continuously asking questions, and looking at the world as our playground. But somewhere along the way, as we get older, we suppress our inner-child and become comfortable with the status quo, resilient to change or discomfort. Curiosity is what drives us to mix and match, linking things that most find impossible to interlink. It makes us pay more attention to details and ask ourselves the "what ifs?”. It brings us out of our shells and out of our comfort zones, exposing us to new experiences, things and environments from which we constantly learn, make new connections and get inspiration. Do you dare to be curious and connect to your inner-child?
5. Love what you do and believe in it
The mutual trademarks of all innovators are the passion for their ideas and the love for innovations. These trademarks fuel their innovation activities and keep them enthusiastic even when facing a lot of doubt. It is a common belief that their ideas will make a difference. Passion helps them stay on track, working through the idea so that it becomes a reality. It is not only their driving force but also a source of inspiration for others, enabling them to envision the idea and work on the same goal.
6. Inspire others to join the innovation process and guide them through
Innovators are sometimes considered as isolated people working all alone on their ideas and, sometimes, that is the case. But being a successful innovator also means being a good leader. Someone who will inspire others to join in on the innovation bandwagon effect. A good leader will team up with different people who will enrich the innovation process with their own different perspectives and expertise. Instead of isolating, successful innovators connect with others and collaborate, and create the right support for their team and guide them towards the unique goal. This positive climate for innovations will empower the whole organization to build-up on the primary idea and further develop it and improve it with other ideas.
7. Boost creativity for a better source of innovations
Creativity comes in all shapes and sizes. Many people usually confuse creativity with innovation and consider them to be almost the same thing. So, let’s start with the definition in an attempt to distinguish the two: Creativity- the ability to create something new; the quality of being creative; Innovation- the introduction of something new; a new idea, method, process, model… device; novelty. The difference is that creativity is the ability to conceive something new, and innovation is the ability to implement something new. You can also work on your creativity and boost it for more efficient and innovative ideas. So, to sum up, it is important to be creative and look at the problem from different angles, and come up with various solutions, but it’s not the final key if you aren’t able to go through with your idea and develop it further.
8. Value and nurture the innovation culture
A true innovator respects the innovation process and the overall innovation culture. He values different opinions, respects the ideas of others and encourages them to improve their own ideas. A true and successful innovator is able to put his Ego aside for the greater good. He gives back to the community and supports other innovators as they all have the same goal - to innovate and develop something that will be beneficial. An open-minded approach to the whole innovation process will certainly have a positive impact on the end-product because, after all, innovations don’t happen in a vacuum.
9. Pay attention to the smallest of details because they can pay off tons
Paying attention to details is another important characteristic of great innovators, it is what separates them from the rest. One tiny but important detail can make a huge difference, and being able to distinguish it usually means success. A good innovator must have an eye for details, no matter if they can come in the form of design details, undetected niche and groups in the market nobody found interesting, a new way of satisfying a certain need, spotting the opportunity… He must be on a constant lookout because the innovation process is a continuous process and there is no slowing down, let alone stopping.
10. Persistence - get ready for a marathon
Last but not least: patience, persistence and determination. Great success doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a lot of hard work, long hours and sacrifice, and there are a lot of obstacles to overcome. A step closer to the goal keeps the innovator going as well as their strong passion and sense of meaning. It is more of a marathon than a sprint, so be prepared. Even the best ideas and most passionate innovators run into a dead-end from time to time. Some give up there, and some continue, work through and find a solution. A lot of planning, testing and experimenting are put in the whole innovation process, a lot of trials and errors until the end goal is reached. Some find the thrill of it worth everything. Either way, be prepared for a long run!
Even with these characteristics and a brilliant idea, you will most definitely need all the help that you can get. And where better to look for help than from Innovation Cloud since we provide you with the right tools and right approach to help you create every step of the way of your innovation process.