Here’s what innovators do differently that imitators don’t

the innovator's key skillsAre all innovators alike, and can we all learn and develop the skills to become innovators? Yes.

I’m big on fundamentals, and though you can’t create a Mozart or David Bowie, you can unleash your innovation capability by applying the skills necessary to be creative and innovate.

For me, innovation is a mindset.

The definition of mindset is the following: “a habitual or characteristic mental attitude that determines how you will interpret and respond to situations.” The really insightful word in that definition is “habitual.” And habits are developed and determined by regular practices.

So, if innovation is a mindset, and a mindset is defined by habits, then creating processes that encourage the right practices or habits can provide a powerful foundation for innovation.

So, what do innovators do differently from non-innovators?

I get asked this question a lot, and was even asked to do a full episode on The Big Bang podcast (I’m working on something :), so here’s what people with high levels of creativity do differently:

They ask more interesting questions

Innovators instinctively understand that better questions lead to better answers. Not simply asking more questions, but questions that lead to insights. Thus it all starts with a wild question, as innovators ask challenging questions that provoke the status-quo to get their thinking flowing in a different direction.

They observe more

Being insightful isn’t a question of talent, it’s a question of awareness. With that said, the most powerful innovation technique available to innovators is observation. It means you take the time to live in the customer’s shoes, not just simply ask them questions, but really immerse yourself in their lives.

Observing is making distinctions, noticing things, seeing something that’s not obvious.

They are infovores

Simply put, innovators have a voracious appetite for information; more importantly insights. Because they read widely, they have more information available to make interesting connections between unrelated sources, and that is the source of creativity.

They cultivate a cognitively diverse network of collaborators

Most people have a deep network of people who are just like them, innovators cultivate a wide network of diverse people. The intent of innovators is to learn widely, their objective for networking is to connect and develop new ideas. They understand that serendipitous exchanges, the random collision of unusual suspects, fuel innovation.

They try more new stuff

Without experimentation their is no innovation, and innovators experiment more than the average person does. Call it failing fast or whatever you want, the point is that you need to try more new stuff to find the path to innovation.


That’s it in a nutshell. Using recent research on the innovator’s skill-set, I’ve created a bespoke workshop to help individuals and businesses develop their innovation skill-set.

Let me know if you want to make that happen and we’ll set it up 😉