Innovation is a tricky thing. Even experts can’t agree on what it is or how to do it, and still others think of it as merely a buzzword. But despite all that, innovation remains vitally important to most businesses and can give you a competitive edge. I’ve spent years working in innovation in every form—disruptive, breakthrough, and sustaining —and I know one thing for sure: being innovative requires more than just a single moment of inspiration. Instead, real innovation relies upon building up an arsenal of skills that work together in moments of clarity and chaos alike. Mastering each skill takes time and effort (and maybe even some failure), but starting somewhere is always better than doing nothing at all!
Skill #1 Ability to see the big picture – seeing past the detail to gain a strategic view of a problem
When you are working with innovation teams, it’s important to be able to see past all of the details and get an overall view of what is happening with your company or organization. You need to be able to envision where you want your company or organization to go in future years and how each project fits into that vision.
Skill #2 Spot patterns and interpret behavior and communication that predicts future events
Look for signals in trending topics, behaviors and consumer interests . These signals of change are clues for the next opportunity and when you marry this with your company goals you can create new value for consumers and your business.
Skill #3 Connect the dots to help solve problems in unconventional ways
Connecting the dots is about looking at a problem from a different angle, and it’s especially useful for innovators. There are many ways to connect the dots, but in essence, it’s about seeing what others might not see or being able to make connections that others cannot make. When you’re trying to solve an innovation problem or create something new, look for opportunities to connect your ideas with other ideas in order to make them better.
Skill #4 Analytical – ability to shift through large amounts of data and pick out the key parts to inform strategy
Data analysis is an essential skill for successful innovation. Successful innovators are able to sift through large amounts of data and pick out the key parts that inform strategy. They can analyze unstructured data, such as social media comments, reviews, or customer surveys while also using more traditional tools and programs like Excel to analyze structured information (e.g., sales figures). Talk to us about our NLP tools that we use at LaunchJuice.
It’s important that these analytical skills be combined with strategic thinking and empathy for real consumer problems so that you can apply them in your industry or business area where you have expertise. This will help ensure you are able to identify relevant areas for improvement or opportunity within your organization or industry before you start gathering any data from consumers at all.
Skill #5 Simplification – understanding and taking apart and simplifying complex ideas and concepts
The ability to break down a problem into its component parts can be invaluable in innovation. A great innovator knows how to take apart and simplify complex ideas and concepts, as well as make them easy for others to understand. Innovators must also be able to simplify complex problems, issues or situations so that they become more manageable for others. For example, an innovator who has just been given a difficult assignment might ask: “What are we trying to do here? What problem is this solving? How will it affect the business if we don’t solve this problem?”
Skill #6 – Embrace change, even if it means failing again and again until you find the right solution
You’ve heard it before: fail fast, learn from your mistakes, and move on. But what does this mean for you as an innovator?
As an entrepreneur and innovator, you need to be ready to embrace change and adapt quickly if your idea isn’t working out the way you want it to. It’s important for you to remember that failure isn’t the end—it’s a new beginning! The key is learning how to use failures to your advantage by trying new strategies or changing up your game plan altogether.
Innovation is a process. It doesn’t come from one moment of inspiration, but from lots of small moments that add up to something truly special.
The key to innovation is in the process, not the product or service itself. While it’s important for leaders to consider potential risks and rewards when considering new opportunities, they must also take time to consider how they will create an environment where their teams’ creativity can flourish before they begin making decisions about whether or not they should move forward with an idea or project.
Innovation is a complex and ever-developing process. The skills required to make you an innovator are not always easy, to come by but they will give you a competitive edge. If you have any of these skills in your business, then it’s time to embrace them and get those team members focused on what comes next. Otherwise, this is your chance to start learning how to be an innovator like no other.