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The Innovator’s DNA

October 27, 2014

To think differently successful innovators act differently.

This was revealed in a long term, global research project called The Innovator’s DNA. The researchers studied the leaders of successful innovative companies to find out what they did differently than leaders of less innovative companies. Their findings included:

  • The ability to generate creative ideas is as much a function of behavior as thinking.
  • And there are specific behaviors the most successful business innovators practice more often than less innovative leaders.

Each of these behaviors, individually and in combination, increase the ability to make creative new connections:

DNA_Double_HelixQuestioning: asking more questions more often, to better understand what is and what could be.

Observing: engaging your senses to take in what’s working and what isn’t, across many different environments.

Networking: frequently meeting people who are different from you, to learn more about what they know, do and think.

Experimenting: creating pilot tests and prototypes, to test ideas, develop new insights and share ideas with others.

The ability to make creative new connections, associating, is a cognitive skill that can be increased by practicing these four behavior skills.

Innovative entrepreneurs who are CEOs spent 50% more time questioning, observing, networking, experimenting and associating than CEOs with no innovation track record.

Another interesting result? If you want to increase your ability to think creatively, and encourage creative thinking in others, you only need to practice two or more of these skills more often.

“Innovation is a habit,” the researchers said. “And for these innovative entrepreneurs it’s a way of life. It’s the fabric of who they are. And for others who aren’t that way, they could be: if they choose to act different to think different.”

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