Are You an Innovator?
by Mitchell Ditkoff
The word "innovate" can be traced all the way back to 1440. It comes from the Middle French word "innovacyon," meaning "renewal" or "new way of doing things". Exactly what innovations actually happened in 1440 (rounder oxcart wheels?) is anybody's guess, but whatever they were, it's likely they improved the quality of life for more than a few people.
These days, the "innovation thing" is something of a no-brainer. Indeed, it seems that any company worth its low-salt lunch has identified innovation as a core competency worth developing. Who in their right mind (or is it right brain?) can deny the value of improving things? Isn't this what human beings - those grand inventors of the microchip and the chocolate chip - are supposed to do? True. But who has time? And so begins the search for the so-called magic pill - systems, formulas and blueprints.
Unfortunately, INNOVATION, unlike audits or reengineering, is not given to systems, formulas and blueprints. It is given to people - restless, inspired, fascinated individuals with an almost cellular need to change. And while it can be supported by systems, it can never be reduced to systems. "Innovation," as Tom Peters so aptly put it, "is a messy business."
If you want to spark innovation, forget about slick formulas for a minute and pay attention to what's happening on the inside. Because that's where it starts. With the innovator - the inspired individual who sees a better way and goes for it. And the key to the innovator - the special blend of inner qualities that allows him or her to succeed when others have long since gone home? Is it tools? Techniques? Experience? Sure, they're useful. But without the user of them having the right stuff, they're merely decoration - not unlike having a new set of jumper cables, but no car.
And so, if you are one of the self-chosen few willing to stop blaming your organization and start taking personal responsibility for innovating now's your chance to get an insight into the DNA of what it takes to be an innovator on-the-job. To get started, all you need to do is rate yourself, on a scale of 1-10, for each on the following qualities. Notes which ones are your strengths and how can you build on them. Notes which ones are your weaknesses and how can you strengthen them. And don't forget to floss.
20 Qualities of an Innovator
Top News & Offerings
Storytelling at Work
Storytelling at Work is Mitch Ditkoff's newly published book about the power of personal storytelling in business – why it matters and what you and your organization can do to leverage the impact of storytelling in the workplace.
Workshops & Trainings
Highly engaging learning experiences that increase each participant's ability to become a creative force for positive change
High impact certification training that teaches committed change agents how to lead groundbreaking ideation sessions
Your "best and brightest" are the future leaders of your company, but unless they know how to foster a culture of innovation, their impact will be limited. A one-day workshop with us is all they need to begin this journey.
Our Blog Cabin
Our Heart of Innovation blog is a daily destination for movers and shakers everywhere — gleefully produced by our President, Mitch Ditkoff, voted "best innovation blogger in the world" two years running.
The Hero's Journey
Innovators are known for their ability to move forward. But sometimes, the best way to move forward is to retreat – especially when it's time to reinvent yourself. That's why Idea Champions is now offering 5-day immersive retreats in beautiful San Miguel de Allende. Reboot! Refresh! Renew!
Innovation is a team sport. Brilliant ideas go nowhere unless your people are aligned, collaborative, and team-oriented. That doesn't happen automatically, however. It takes intention, clarity, selflessness, and a new way of operating.
Webinars Powered by
Idea Champions University
If you enjoy our blog, you will love our newly launched webinars! Our training is now accessible online to the whole world.
If you're looking for a powerful way to jump start innovation and get your creative juices flowing, Awake at the Wheel is for you. Written by Mitch Ditkoff, Co-Founder and President of Idea Champions.
Guy Kawasaki's Alltop "online magazine rack" has recognized Idea Champions' blog as one of the leading innovation blogs on the web. Check out The Heart of Innovation, and subscribe!
The world's first interactive business blues band. A great way to help your workforce go beyond complaint.
"In tune with corporate America." — CNN