So, we want people to innovate. Can anyone do it? Are some better than others? Who excels at it? Who is not so good? What are the characteristics and attributes of a ‘good’ innovator?
We think that innovation is inherently collaborative. So, perhaps the answer to the primary question isn’t
a list of personal characteristics and attributes of the super-innovator but instead it’s a set of group characteristics? If so, I’m not so sure that makes the question any easier, as group dynamics and ‘personalities’ of crowds can be just as difficult to understand and predict as individuals. As a first step towards answering this question, I think it’s worth considering what bonds a group together and allows it to exist and function – and ultimately, innovate – in the first place?
Trust, common purpose, communication, listening, respect are all words that spring to mind when thinking about successfully functioning groups that have any kind of longevity and aren’t transient in nature. So perhaps ‘good innovators’ are simply those individuals who can help the group to develop these attributes and encourage these sorts of behaviours to thrive within the group?
“So the group exists. What makes it able to innovate? What about all of the other skills that are required such as creativity?”
I would suggest that all of the other attributes and qualities that are required for successful innovation are derived from the group diversity. It’s the different perspectives, skills, interests and experiences of individuals that is key. As long as individuals are conducive to the existence and functioning of the group and as long as the group is diverse enough, it’s the group that has the potential to be ‘a good innovator’.