How to Innovate More

I’m told the advanced degree many businesses are now seeking is not the MBA but the MFA, Master of Fine Arts. Since so much of our left brain functions are being handled by technological advances, what is lacking is the right brain creative contribution. It mostly laid dormant for years as businesses concentrated on growth through numbers. Yet, you don’t need an advance degree to have your creativity matter. You can learn how.

We learn best by doing, so in order to think different we have to act different. We don’t think our way to a new way of being, we act our way there. In a new book, The Innovators DNA, the authors Jeff Dyer, Hal Gregersen, and Clayton M. Christensen interviewed 100 innovative entrepreneurs to determine how they “ticked”.

The bulk of their findings were behavioral in nature-  these people acted creatively. The behavioral skills common to all innovators, ourselves included are:

  • Questioning. Innovators never settle for the standard answer. They question assumptions and continued to answer “What if?” They are pesky in interrogation.
  • Observing. Innovators keep a vigilant eye out for what was next on the horizon. They look at situations from different angles and perceptions. Einstein imagined what it would be like to ride on a beam of light. That perspective forever altered our view of the universe.
  • Networking. We learn best when challenged by other people who have very different points of view from our own. Innovators allow others to stretch them and are wide open to the breakthroughs such tension creates. They are not threatened by other creatives because they know that nobody can create as uniquely as themselves. We are our own creative fingerprint.
  • Experimenting. This is pretty straight forward. Innovators “tinker”, trying out new avenues without fear of failure. Failure in the creative process is a conduit to new ideas and refinement. Several smaller tests lead to more discoveries than just one major test. In other words, fail early and often.

It takes courage to act in these ways. They are vulnerable behaviors, putting ourselves out there for the world to see. Yet there is a powerful feedback loop that is put in place when we behave creatively. The more these behavioral skills are practiced, the more confident and innovative we become.

To be resilient these days, we need a vibrant imagination to bring about new possibilities and hope. We can all play a part in that.