The five skills of innovating

Posted on: December 1, 2009

Havard Business school and Insead and Brigham Young University have just completed a six-year study of more than 3,000 executives and 500 innovative entrepreneurs and have identified five skills that drive innovation.

The five skills that are seen as separating the blue-sky innovators from the rest associating, questioning, observing, experimenting and discovering.

1.Associating: The ability to connect seemingly unrelated questions, problems or ideas from different fields.

2.Questioning: Innovators constantly ask questions that challenge the common wisdom. They ask “why?”, “why not?” and “what if?”

3.Observing: Discovery-driven executives scrutinize common phenomena, particularly the behavior of potential customers.

4,Experimenting: Innovative entrepreneurs actively try out new ideas by creating prototypes and launching pilots.

5.Networking: innovators go out of their way to meet people with different ideas and perspectives.

What do you think?

In an interview with America’s CNN,one of the researchers,Hal Gregersen said

“The way they act is to observe actively, like an anthropologist, and they talk to incredibly diverse people with different world views, who can challenge their assumptions, adding

“For them, everything is to be experimented upon — for example, if they walk into a bookstore and they’re used to reading history they might try psychology. All these behaviors are powerfully enhanced by a capacity to ask provocative, challenging questions of the world around them.”


The full study can be seen in December’s Harvard Business Review


1 Response to "The five skills of innovating"

Dan Pink’s work on this subject is worth following – I particularly like the definition of “Symphony” — being able to synthesize disparate, often disconnected, developments into something new, often straddling many industries, will be the basis of innovation.

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