New INSEAD study reveals the business innovator’s DNA

This article, based upon research by INSEAD professor Hal Gregersen, Jeffrey Dyer of Brigham Young University and Clayton Christensen of Harvard, provides a look at business leaders and what makes them great innovators.  It outlines the five key discovery skills you ‘need’ but points out that leaders do not necessarily excel in all skills.

The five discovery skills defined and exemplified are:

– Associating: the ability to ‘connect the dots’ to make connections
– Observing: the ability to intensely observe the world
– Experimenting: the mindset of ‘trying this and that’ to find solutions to challenges
– Questioning: the inquiring attitude that continuously asks questions
– Networking: the acquisition of a diverse set of people and skills who view things from a different perspective

In order to explore the concept of Disruptive Innovation, researchers interviewed CEOs and founders of companies that innovated entire industries.  In this study, they identified that many innovators are using the same skills, challenging the way things are currently done, and then initiating change.  Interestingly, the discovery skills are those that many businesses have discouraged their teams to engage in.

Gregerson suggests that we start acting like children again to engage the five discovery skills.  Note taking, observing and asking questions will help us all better understand how we can streamline processes, come up with new ideas and, who knows, maybe invent the next big thing.

Though it would be interesting to see the response from your team when you tell them to ‘act like children,’ wouldn’t it be great to see what the leaders within your team could do by engaging these simple but profound skills?

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