In Christensen’s book The Innovator’s DNA he points out that approximately two-thirds of our ability to innovate is acquired with experience.
Innovative thinkers connect different fields, problems, or ideas that others consider to be separate, and commonly put into practice the following behavioral traits:
Question: They constantly question their surroundings and feel a strong passion for investigation
Observe: They are intense observers, and carefully examine the world around them, including their clients, products, services, technology, and organizations, and their observations help develop new ways to do things.
Work in networks: They invest a good amount of time and energy extracting and testing ideas with a diverse network of individuals.
Experiment: They permanently are testing new ideas.
Work in networks
Focusing on the specific ability to work in networks, the basic principal comes down to ideas—how to form new bridges to areas of knowledge that are different from an organization’s habitual interactions. How can you achieve this connection?
1) Make a list of names of ten people you are most interested in talking to in order to find or perfect an idea. Go one step further and write that list right now. How many of those people have backgrounds or perspectives different from your own?
2) At least one time a week, organize a meal with someone who works in a different industry than your own.
3) In the next 12 months attend at least two conferences: one related to your professional activity and another that is completely outside your area. Make an effort to meet people and discuss your worries/troubles/doubts/etc.
4) Become part of a creative community or form one yourself. Identify a couple of people you consider to be open and who have an affinity for new ideas. Choose an interesting place to meet with them on a regular basis in order to exchange perspectives and discuss new technologies.
5) At least one time a week invite a talented person who belongs to a completely different professional area than yourself—different position, profession, country, age and/or socioeconomic group—to eat with you and your team. Ask their opinion on challenges that you face in terms of innovation.
6) Put into practice a diverse, unique training program. Select experts from different areas, industries, or geographical regions to attend meetings about training. For example, the managers from Google and P&G did an exchange of positions to learn key aspects of their distinct environment in order to discover new ways to approach challenges from the point of view of different industries.