You spot an innovation genius if you see 10 of these characters in a person.
1. Know something of everything – micro to macro across different industries and subjects. This requires strong learning skill and a growth mindset. Innovation required an open mind and constant connect with external changes.
2. Know everything about something – innovation specialist would be best to have a deep knowledge in 1 or 2 aspects of subjects, for example in product development and marketing. This ensures the specialist is experienced in doing the execution of the integrated innovation initiative.
3. Organise thoughts and making connections – innovation is about connecting the dots, so strong analytics skills, and people insights skills are very important. The specialist also needs to avoid personal bias to develop objective insights.
4. Strategic and visualization skill – innovation is a highly complex process, the wider and deeper your investigation, the better the final solution! To understand each of the insight is important, organising and connecting them into a bigger strategic vision is the most difficult part. A great innovation specialist will have skillful visualization and storytelling skill to explain those complex insights in an inspiring and easy to understand way!
5. Concept Prototyping – well, if you can’t tell it, prototype it! An innovation is as good as its Experienced! Many time, an innovative idea will require prototypes to best externalize the power, let stakeholders to experience the idea is the most effective way to pitch your ideas.
6. Commercialisation – technical and financial are another critical skills that a good innovation specialist should have. If you want to launch the innovation, no matter it is a personal device, a smart home system, a brand retail experience, or launch of a new government service, there are always technical issue needed to address and make sense of the investment and ROI.
7. Speed to market – speed is king when it comes to innovation. Best innovation team should keep in small size and lead by an experienced innovation leader that understands how to convert conflicts into synergy during the development process, and make bold decisions in time to shorten development time then reiterate.
8. Storytelling and marketing – great innovation deserve great stories to spread the words. A good innovation specialist will retain the accent of the big ideas and tell a compelling story to attract and convert ideas to sales!
9. Embrace uncertainty – the innovation process is always messy and full of uncertainty, it takes courage and long-term vision from the whole innovation team to embrace the unpredictable nature of the process, and always thinking out of the box and ready fail fast and improve! This is probably the most difficult part, and for a company to be successful in driving innovation, you need a visionary and courageous leader who embrace the process!
10. Love Technology & People – all innovation specialist must love both technology & people, great technology provides new opportunity to do things better, faster and cheaper, so keeping updated with the latest technology is a must for all innovation. And he/she must also truly love people (customers), with a great sense of cultural, social-psycho awareness, and a very very deep sense of empathy! A great innovation specialist will always remember the technology is only tools to better serve people!
Above are few key characters that I’ve learned throughout my 20+ years passion in driving innovation to markets, and this is by no means the complete list to identify your innovation team. One thing for sure is that the list will expand and innovation is getting more and more important for Companies to stay ahead of the game!