Think Like an Innovator

In the Harvard Business Review Channel Management Tip titled “Four Ways to Think Like an Innovator” released April 20, 2012, Scott Anthony, the Managing Director of Innosight Asia-Pacific shares some tips for thinking like an innovator. He states, “To innovate successfully… you need to think differently than you do about your other tasks.”

Anthony shares these four guidelines to help put you in an innovative frame of mind:

Keep an external focus
“Adopting an external viewpoint is crucial to identify opportunities. Instead of thinking about what products your company has to sell, think about what problems your customers are trying to solve…. Inspiration comes from looking outside your company and comfort zone.”

Learn from your mistakes
Mike Tyson once said, “everyone’s got a plan, until they get punched in the face!” There’s no such thing as the perfect plan, “a new idea never survives its first contact with the market unscathed. Assume your first idea is partially right and partially wrong. Go out and learn from the market and make sure to reassess your approach as you learn how you are wrong.”

Embrace your inner Edison
Thomas Edison didn’t just think like an innovator, he was an innovator – “he went out and made things.” Like any other discipline, to really master innovation you must practice innovation!

Resist the pull of the core
“Every company and individual has a set of capabilities. Those capabilities define what the company and its workforce can do, and more importantly, what they can’t do. Strengths define weaknesses.” To be a great innovator, you must “find ways to address hidden weaknesses that inhibit success. If you don’t, you will squelch innovative ideas or subtly shift them so they are closer to how your core business currently operates.”

Anthony concludes by saying, “If you are tasked with innovation at work, you need to adopt a new frame of mind to succeed. Get into the right one by following these four guidelines.”

How about you, are you struggling to think like an innovator? Are you trying to get a project started or are you stuck somewhere in the middle of an important innovation project? Start thinking differently!

Get in the right frame of mind: keep an external focus, learn from your mistakes, embrace your inner Edison, and resist the pull of the core!


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I am a leader, speaker, and author who is passionate about Leadership Excellence and Achieiving Greater Success. I am the author of the books Be An Inspirational Leader(2016) and Presidential Leadership (2013), and deliver keynote presentations on those topics and several others.

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