Years ago, Arnold Glasow, an entrepreneur and humorist, concluded that “improvement begins with I.” We couldn’t agree more when it comes to becoming an innovative leader. Our book, The Innovator’s DNA, distills the results of our research on how the most innovative leaders at the most innovative companies in the world develop disruptive ideas. Our interviews with over 100 high profile innovators (like Jeff Bezos at Amazon ) and surveys of over 5,000 executives and entrepreneurs uncovered five powerful discovery skills.
Innovators question the status quo, observe like anthropologists, network for new ideas, experiment by trying out new things, taking things apart, and testing out prototypes. Then they engage in associational thinking by connecting the unconnected to get innovative solutions. In short, innovators consistently act differently to think differently.
To start, we suggest three steps. 1) Assess your discovery skills strengths. 2) Identify a compelling innovation challenge that matters. 3) Practice your discovery skills ruthlessly. When combined, these steps can help you—and your team—build the relevant innovation skills required to make a bigger, better impact at work and beyond.