Identifying Innovators

Innovation is ultimately driven by Innovators – people who are able to think differently and more importantly act on those thoughts irrespective of the environment. Their DNA is slightly different from others at least when it comes to their attitude. So how do you choose a team of innovators for your next innovation initiative? What traits should you look for in them and is it really possible to pinpoint the traits that make someone an innovator assuming that the environmental factors are same for everyone?

Lisa Bodell in her Stategy+Business article¬†Fourteen Interview Questions to Help You Hire Your Next Innovator talks about 5 traits that you should look for in innovators –

  1. Strategic Imagination
  2. Provocative Inquiry
  3. Creative Problem-Solving
  4. Agility
  5. Resilience

She even goes on to give you sample questions that you can ask people and has a longer list of questions that she can share on request.

I would add the most important ability of innovators is their comfort with ambiguity. The work they would have to do would have no defined boundaries, no defined conditions, and no predictable outcomes. They would have to define their own work, most of which others may not understand and relate to. The second trait that I would look for is perseverance – this is needed to keep going when the success does not show up for a long time, this is needed when people suspect your mission, this is needed everyone says No and you need to still go on.

Anuradha Goyal