I was recently asked what were the three most important traits of an innovator. Before I could provide an answer to this question I paused to firstly consider the definition of an innovator. To most people an innovator would be someone who comes up with something new and novel, typically an invention or a new concept that may also be protected by a patent. These types of innovators that come to mind include Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein, Michael Faraday and Thomas Edison. However, I challenge the traditional view of an innovator and present a revised definition as someone who applies creative ideas or innovative concepts to create something of value in the market, which could be a new product/service, a new process or organisational system. True innovators include Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Richard Branson who all have built successful businesses through their creative ideas and opportunities.
Therefore, if an innovator is defined as someone who comes up with something new and novel such as a new invention then three major traits (there are numerous) required are CURIOSITY (open minded, asking why? or challenging the status quo), THINKING CREATIVELY (using imagination, intuition and lateral thinking) and EXPERIMENTATION (the power of observation, scientific method, analysis, deduction and recording outcomes). A good example of this type of innovator was Leonardo da Vinci, a great inventor but never applied any of his inventions to create true innovations. Conversely, if an innovator is defined as someone who applies creative ideas to create something of value in the marketplace, in society or in an organisation the traits for a true innovator would then include VISION (the ability to see opportunities before anyone else), PERSISTENCE (the discipline and commitment to see things through) and ENTREPRENEURSHIP (the ability to convert ideas into successful commercial outcomes that create value). A recent example of this type of innovator would be Mark Zuckerberg who created Facebook.
Dr John Kapeleris