If you want to innovate in your work, you’ll have to do more than simply have bright ideas. At least, that’s according to research by Harvard Business School alum Clayton Christensen, Jeffrey Dyer of Brigham Young University, and Hal Gregersen of INSEAD. From their research, Bruce Upbin gives us the five traits of highly innovative leaders, defining characteristics of leaders like Jeff Bezos and Steve Jobs.

  • Questioning, which allows innovators to challenge the status quo and consider new possibilities.
  • Observing, which helps innovators detect small behavioral details — in the activities of customers, suppliers, and other companies – that suggest new ways of doing things.
  • Networking, which permits innovators to gain radically different perspectives from individuals with diverse backgrounds.
  • Experimenting, which prompts innovators to relentlessly try out new experiences, take things apart, and test new ideas.
  • Associational Thinking, drawing connections between questions, problems, or ideas from unrelated fields, which is triggered by questioning, observing, networking, and experimenting and is the catalyst for creativity.

Read all about the research behind these traits, and catch an exclusive video interview with researchers Dryer and Gregersen, over on Forbes.com.

  • Dibyendu De

    Agree. All essential skills worth honing for years.

    • http://www.creativesomething.net/ tannerc

      You’re absolutely right Dibyendu, these traits can often take years to get right. Though it doesn’t hurt to start today, right?

  • Lloyd

    Good list it should include spiritual guidance. Many create folks have talked about hearing or seeing their work before it became a reality. I believe many musicians have said they just wrote down the music he heard in his head.,

    • http://www.creativesomething.net/ tannerc

      Thanks for reading and commenting Lloyd. It could be argued that the feeling os “spiritual guidance” is simply a result of the first two traits: observing and questioning.

  • dope melrose

    photographer: observing & questioning (24/7/365) …..inspiration & experimentation = inspired work or NOT……..inspired work – continue…network…. or NOT – return to observing & questioning.

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