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Becoming a better innovator


By Leadership - Posted on 25 November 2012

Innovation can be disruptive or incremental. By disruptive innovation, completely new behaviours are unleashed. Internet shopping (what amazon.com did to shopping) or letting consumers choose product features using a channel like facebook are great examples of discontinuous innovation.

I recently attended a global conference hosted by HCL for its customers. I heard two schools of thought on what makes an innovator.

First was about the process of innovation. Innovation requires developing a healthy dissatisfaction about current imperfections in the given context. We say 'healthy dissatisfaction' because negativity it not the right attitude that fuels innovation. One also needs the ability to have a vision for the future. If this vision is built on the foundations of the current context, the innovation mostly becomes incremental. An innovator also needs small and bold experiments to progress towards the vision. As simple as that!!

The other school of thought was about who can be a better innovator. Somebody who operates at the fringe of a context has better ability to see the imperfections and dream discontinuously. Someone who gets soaked in the context will try to adjust, adapt and conform. The ability to take social risks is the next critical success factor to be an innovator. Many a times communities are very hard on people who try to deviate from the widely accepted normal. The normal human tendency is to go with the crowd and remain in a comfort zone. Innovators have a natural tendency to avoid comfort zones.

The questions is how to stay an outsider in any given context? How do innovators manage to remain outside?

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