CR4 - The Engineer's Place for News and Discussion ®


The Engineer's Notebook Blog

The Engineer's Notebook

The Engineer's Notebook is a shared blog for entries that don't fit into a specific CR4 blog. Topics may range from grammar to physics and could be research or or an individual's thoughts - like you'd jot down in a well-used notebook.

Previous in Blog: Innovation, Part I: What Does It Really Look Like?   Next in Blog: Toilet Seat Covers and You
Close
Close
Close
11 comments

Innovation, Part II: What Makes an Innovative Individual?

Posted March 24, 2017 3:00 PM by MaggieMc

On Wednesday, I told you about a paper in Vol. 18 of Technology and Innovation, written by Victor Poirier and a whole slew of his colleagues, specifically the process of innovation that they outlined. However, the deeper you get into the process, the more you realize that all individuals are not equally equipped to proceed along that path.

So, what skills do you need to be innovative? And how can you develop those skills?

When we consider of our favorite geniuses and creative minds (e.g. Albert Einstein or Sigmund Freud), we’ll find that they have certain things in common; namely that they come from locales separate from their respective “centers of excellence,” they gain dominance in their domains in an average of ten years, and then they move to their center of excellence in order to interact with the other great minds in their fields.

Unsurprisingly, those factors aren’t very easy to replicate in ourselves, regardless of how ambitious we are. Luckily, Poirier and his colleagues provided us with a much less circumstantial list of characteristics of innovators:

  1. They are abstract thinkers and superb problem solvers.
  2. They have depth of knowledge in one subject, and a breadth of knowledge across others.
  3. They want to fill the gaps in their knowledge base.
  4. They have strong intrinsic motivation and they find inner satisfaction in working for the greater good.
  5. They are creative and imaginative.
  6. They have an innate and insatiable curiosity.
  7. They take risks because they aren’t afraid of failure; they’re challenged by it.
  8. They have a positive outlook that allows them to be receptive to new possibilities.
  9. They combine persistence and passion into a desire for excellence.
  10. They have a dissatisfaction with settling for the way things already are.
  11. They are open-minded and are capable of considering limitless possibilities.
  12. They appreciate cross-fertilization, and understand the benefits of an outside discipline’s perspective on their ideas.
  13. They communicate their ideas and concepts in a clear and precise fashion.
  14. They have an excellent sense of timing, understanding when to present a given idea.

This laundry-list of interlocking skills is rather daunting to consider, but it’s qualified by the fact that “innovators can also have any combination of these traits, but some of the traits and characteristics may be thought of as being more conducive to innovation than others.”

As I read about each of these traits, I couldn’t help but evaluate my own skills on those terms—an interesting exercise to say the least.

To cultivate these innovative traits, the authors speak first of working against the idea that inspiration is solely a spontaneous occurrence, instead shifting the focus to the idea that inspiration can be worked toward and innovative skills can be grown. In addition, the authors suggest a high level of individual involvement and independence, as well as “the ability to confront failure and grapple with ill-defined problems.”

Gaining skills comes much more easily to most people than changing our thinking. Learning to accept contrary ideas—for example that failures are not necessarily failures—is not an easy task. Then again, neither is innovation.

Image credit: Bashaier Said

Reply

Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.
Guru
Hobbies - DIY Welding - Wannabeabettawelda

Join Date: May 2007
Location: Annapolis, Maryland
Posts: 3926
Good Answers: 212
#1

Re: Innovation, Part II: What Makes an Innovative Individual?

03/24/2017 6:27 PM

I tend to agree with everything that's on that list and can't think of anything else I would add.

Reply
Guru

Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 4989
Good Answers: 473
#2

Re: Innovation, Part II: What Makes an Innovative Individual?

03/24/2017 8:58 PM

This would make a good resume!

Reply
Guru

Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: Hemet, Land of milk and honey.
Posts: 939
Good Answers: 20
#3

Re: Innovation, Part II: What Makes an Innovative Individual?

03/24/2017 11:26 PM

15. They are meticulous.

16. They are detail oriented.

Reply
Guru

Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: South of Minot North Dakota
Posts: 7931
Good Answers: 732
#7
In reply to #3

Re: Innovation, Part II: What Makes an Innovative Individual?

03/25/2017 10:25 PM

Not me!

I got way better things to do with my time than nitpick perceived cleanliness issues.

Reply
Guru

Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: Hemet, Land of milk and honey.
Posts: 939
Good Answers: 20
#4

Re: Innovation, Part II: What Makes an Innovative Individual?

03/24/2017 11:30 PM

17. They believe in sorting things out and making the necessary corrections regardless of the time and effort required.

Reply
Guru

Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Earth - I think.
Posts: 1929
Good Answers: 148
#5

Re: Innovation, Part II: What Makes an Innovative Individual?

03/25/2017 4:43 PM

The 14 point list of characteristics of innovators, sounds a lot like an INTJ engineer.

__________________
TANSTAAFL (If you don't know what that means, Google it - yourself)
Reply
Guru
Hobbies - DIY Welding - Wannabeabettawelda

Join Date: May 2007
Location: Annapolis, Maryland
Posts: 3926
Good Answers: 212
#8
In reply to #5

Re: Innovation, Part II: What Makes an Innovative Individual?

03/27/2017 12:26 PM

That's how I tested out back in 1985. Haven't done a Meyers-Brigg in a very long time. Not sure I'd still be an INTJ though. Hard to say, don't want to take the time to find out.

Reply
Guru

Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Earth - I think.
Posts: 1929
Good Answers: 148
#10
In reply to #8

Re: Innovation, Part II: What Makes an Innovative Individual?

03/28/2017 9:18 AM

I didn't even know about the test until last year.

I/E - 15/1 (I have 1 extroverted bone in my body, and I'm pretty sure that's my funny bone!)

N/S - 11/4

T/F - 21/0

J/P -13/6

I'm not borderline.

__________________
TANSTAAFL (If you don't know what that means, Google it - yourself)
Reply Off Topic (Score 5)
Guru

Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: South of Minot North Dakota
Posts: 7931
Good Answers: 732
#11
In reply to #8

Re: Innovation, Part II: What Makes an Innovative Individual?

03/28/2017 6:01 PM

ENTP here.

Reply
Participant

Join Date: Mar 2017
Posts: 1
#6

Re: Innovation, Part II: What Makes an Innovative Individual?

03/25/2017 5:03 PM

This is a well written piece. Please continue to share your insightfulness. Thank you

Reply
Participant

Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: India
Posts: 1
#9

Re: Innovation, Part II: What Makes an Innovative Individual?

03/28/2017 6:32 AM

The book 'Daily Rituals' by Mason Currey is also a good starting point. Cal Newport's blogs and books are also good resources to refer for relevant examples.

__________________
SDR
Reply
Reply to Blog Entry 11 comments
Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.
Copy to Clipboard

Users who posted comments:

Brave Sir Robin (2); Cliff Evans (1); Kilowatt0 (2); Rixter (1); shreyasr (1); tcmtech (2); tonyhemet (2)

Previous in Blog: Innovation, Part I: What Does It Really Look Like?   Next in Blog: Toilet Seat Covers and You

Advertisement