What makes someone innovative?


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When I’m out giving talks about innovation or working directly with teams and organizations on building a culture of innovation, I often get asked, What makes someone innovative?

It’s a favorite question of mine, and not just because I've had the pleasure of working with so many innovators over the years, but also because there are certain things that people can put into practice - like the seven actions below - that if they do, will make them more innovative. In my 25 years of work and research, I have seen, time and time again, that when these practices are implemented - either one at a time or as multiples - people become more innovative.

So, here's a challenge for you. As you read through this list, ask yourself, "Am I acting like an innovative person?" If the answer is "No", don't worry, take action today. When you do,  you'll not only act like an innovator, you'll become one. 

7 Actions to Take to Become an Innovative Person

Action #1

An innovative person actively seeks out opportunity. A non-innovative person waits for opportunities to find them.

Action #2

An innovative person is always curious, continually looking to discover the “why” or “how” behind things. A non-innovative person is disinterested in digging deeper.

Action #3

An innovative person’s mindset is future oriented, looking to what’s ahead. A non-innovative person focuses on where they’ve been, stuck in the past.

Action #4

An innovative person is comfortable with failure, because they know it will teach them something important as they try again. A non-innovative person is uncomfortable with failure, seeing it an end point.

Action #5

An innovative person recognizes that they don’t have all the answers and actively seeks input from others. A non-innovative person is too busy trying to be right, and is never willing to admit they don’t know it all.

Action #6

An innovative schedules innovative exercises so they can strengthen their innovation muscles. A non-innovative person ignores their innovation muscles and then gets frustrated in the 3 p.m. brainstorm when their innovation muscles are weak.

Action #7

An innovative person uses their natural innovation strengths to be a rock star innovator. A non-innovative person doesn’t know how they innovate naturally and hence stay stuck in the mud trying to innovate in a way that doesn’t work for them.

The world is a better place when we innovate and, as you read above, what makes someone innovative isn’t a magic superpower only bestowed upon the select few, it’s a daily activity anyone can engage in.