Does Innovation Have a DNA?

by Jay Deragon on 09/20/2011

Technological innovation is changing the way markets operate.  As we watch Google, Facebook and others add more and more technology to their core offering we witness market transformation.  So we ask, is it the technology or the people behind the technology which fuels innovation? Whether it is people or technology does innovation follow a common DNA?

Examining The Innovation DNA

Tom Post, Forbes Staff writesThe Innovator’s DNA (Harvard Business School Press). Among other things, we discovered that particular skills separate business innovators like Jeff Bezos,Steve Jobs and Marc Benioff of Salesforce.com from ordinary managers. These characteristics are not simply a genetic endowment of the lucky few. Anyone can change his behavior to improve creative impact and to weave the code for innovation into his or her company.

We call them the five skills of disruptive innovators:

  1. Questioning allows innovators to challenge the status quo and consider new possibilities;
  2. Observing helps innovators detect small details—in the activities of customers, suppliers and other companies—that suggest new ways of doing things
  3. Networking permits innovators to gain radically different perspectives from individuals with diverse backgrounds;
  4. Experimenting prompts innovators to relentlessly try out new experiences, take things apart and test new ideas;
  5. Associational thinking—drawing connections among questions, problems or ideas from unrelated fields—is triggered by questioning, observing, networking and experimenting and is the catalyst for creative ideas.
Given these findings it is clearly indicates that today’s innovators are people using technology to enhance the five skills that produce innovation.  While these skills have been present historically it is the rate of actualizing these skills sets that has been accelerated by and through technology.
If you reflect on the five skill sets of innovators you will find they are all relevant to how innovators think and behave. Now reflect on the impact of social technology. It influences not only how we think but what we think and how we behave.
Does your brain and behavior reflect the DNA of an innovator? Yes it does if you allow it.

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