28 July 2009

Improving your innovation skills

What are the personal characteristics of successful innovators? In his new book The Silver Lining: An Innovation Playbook for Uncertain Times, Scott Anthony includes an interesting observation on that topic.

Anthony reports that, according to some new research by Jeffrey Dyer, Hal Gregersen and Clayton Christensen, most successful innovators tend to be very good at seeing connections between seemingly disparate ideas, a trait the researchers call “associational thinking.”

The good news? Anthony argues that would-be innovators can strengthen their innovation skills. One way is by improving the skills that drive associational thinking, such as questioning and experimenting.

Another option Anthony suggests: Try to place yourself in “innovation schools” — in other words, real-life settings that will give you experiences that could relate to new challenges you may face in the future. Such activities might range from volunteering for an international project at work to using free time on nights and weekends to help a relative launch a start-up...