What made Steve Jobs think the way he did? How was Thomas Edison able to come up with over 1,000 patentable ideas? What traits or qualities does it take to develop such a remarkable level of innovative thinking ability?
Today forward thinking business leaders are encouraging their teams to apply more innovative thinking to the way they work, communicate and produce the goods and services they sell. But with such an objective, the obvious challenge becomes, how does one quickly and efficiently identify the individuals within an organization who possess the greatest potential to innovate.
While we all possess the innate ability to engage in innovative thinking and creative problem solving, there are seven common traits that history’s great innovative leaders like da Vinci, Edison, Marie Curie, Henry Ford and Steve Jobs share—seven traits that enable them to think outside the confines of conventional wisdom and imagine breakthrough concepts that change the way we live and experience the world.
Here are seven key traits common to highly innovate thinkers:
- Curiosity—Curiosity is the first step toward discovery. It is the “beginner’s mind,” a deep, childlike sense of wonder about the world, the often unobvious relationship between different things, and how things work.
- Imagination—Before you can generate a unique idea, you must first be able to conceive it, to envision the very possibility that it could exist. Innovative thinking is fueled by leaps of the imagination, by which you can make novel new connections between seemingly disparate ideas, concepts, or objects.
- Intuition—Making decisions based on facts and figures is fine for many challenges. But true innovation is more often born from that internal “knowing,” the guiding force, sixth sense or gut feeling to follow one’s instincts, no matter how unconventional or illogical the direction.
- Inventiveness—The ability to change the status quo requires an inquisitive passion for “tinkering.” Innovators possess the desire to arrange and re-arrange ideas or things in new and different combinations.
- Playfulness—When you get “lost in your work,” and it starts to feel more like play, amazing things begin to happen. Time, self-consciousness, seriousness, and any sense of limitation fall away, and challenges are met with optimistic enthusiasm. The attitude of playfulness is, “Everything is possible!”
- Flexibility—The capacity to suspend judgment and consider two (or more) seemingly contradictory or unrelated viewpoints, at the same time, helps create a dynamic tension that ultimately stimulates creative resolutions (solutions).
- Persistence—All the creative talent in the world is of no value if you give up before the work is done. Persistence – the passion, willpower, and enthusiasm to overcome setbacks and discouragement – allows innovative thinkers to keep trying new possibilities until success is achieved.
Of course, there is no secret recipe for innovation. It requires an ongoing commitment on the part of an organization and the individuals within it to relentlessly engage in innovative thinking – and to never accept anything less than the best possible outcome. But understanding and nurturing these seven key traits are an excellent starting point for building your innovative thinking foundation.
Start to recognize the individuals around you who naturally possess these traits. Encourage them to make frequent use of them. And nurture these traits in yourself, and in others who may not be as naturally inclined. Acknowledge and reward innovative thinking, responsible risk-taking and questioning the status quo. And in no time you will have fostered a thriving culture of innovation that can lead to ongoing success.
You can become an Innovative Thinking Superstar, starting today! Try a free sample and learn more about our new “SmartStormer Innovative Thinking and Idea Generation” online course at http://SmartStorming.com/Online_Learning.
SmartStorming Partners Mitchell Rigie and Keith Harmeyer are speakers, authors, trainers, facilitators, and recognized thought leaders on the topics of innovative thinking, creative problem solving, and idea generation. They are co-authors of the book, SmartStorming: The Game-Changing Process for Generating Bigger, Better Ideas. To download a free chapter CLICK HERE.