How Do Innovators Think? Harvard Business Review

24 Jun 2010 Sandeep Mehta

Harvard Business Review has an interesting article about How Do Innovators Think?  The entire article is a good read, but here is the list of capabilities/tendencies of innovative people:

  1. Associating: Connect ideas together
  2. Questioning: Ask why, how, what
  3. Observant: Look into details
  4. Networking: Know who to talk to and how to reach them
Clearly a good list.  The one thing that they make a point of (and I agree completely) is inability of even the most creative people to question – mainly due to cultural/social learnings:

 We think there are far more discovery driven people in companies than anyone realizes. We’ve found that 15% of executives are deeply innovative, meaning they’ve invented a new product or started an innovative venture. But the problem is that even the most creative people are often careful about asking questions for fear of looking stupid, or because they know the organization won’t value it.

 I guess the biggest challenge for R&D managers then is to develop an environment that encourages civil and constructive questioning.

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