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We keep throwing the word ‘innovation’ around but do we really understand what it means?

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We live in an era of globalisation, sudden business market turmoil, continuous technology evolutions and rapid scientific advances. Things are always changing rapidly and in this new business reality, the one thing that separates champions from losers is innovation.

Organisations that continue to pursue innovation weather difficult economic times better and position themselves for more rapid growth once the economic climate improves.

The undeniable power of innovation

You see, innovation allows businesses and individuals to increase their ability to generate different possibilities – which increases productivity. Enhanced productivity in turn increases the possibilities of higher income and higher profits.

Essentially, innovation is the key to your success no matter what your business is. The minute you stop innovating is the minute you become irrelevant. Innovation isn’t something you do once and then sit back and forget about it.

In fact, the most successful organisations and individuals choose to innovate every day, not weekly or monthly or annually, but daily. They have embraced the simple truth that perpetual innovation is the best way to sustain financial prosperity.

What are the qualities of innovative people?

If you study the lives of the world most innovative people, you will find that innovation started with their willingness to be different and to never conform.

Innovation cannot co-exist with conformity; they are like water and oil. Innovators are typically nonconformists even in the face of unfavourable consequences.

They all share certain traits: intense awareness, ability to see things differently, unyielding curiosity, tenacious pursuit of knowledge, and constantly being the question.

They push the boundaries of the known world. They have the ability to see beyond the contextual system and determine what they would like to generate.

They have the courage to stand alone, follow their own knowing, and take what others would regard as the risky options while everyone else selects the safe route.

In fact, that’s a big chunk of what makes them successful. They are change agents who are relentless in making things happen and bringing ideas to fruition.

How can you embrace innovation better?

The point is this: to achieve success in today’s business environment, you need to become an insatiable innovator. You have to let go of the business-as-usual paradigm.

When you move beyond that, a whole new universe opens up to you. It’s just a choice! Here are five tips for cultivating the skill and ability of an innovator.

  1. Be open and intensely curious about everything you encounter. Insatiable curiosity is the key to innovation.
  2. Cultivate the courage to stand alone, even in the face of unfavourable consequences and be willing to be a nonconformist.
  3. Expand your awareness and be persistent and relentless in your search for insight, inspirations and ideas.
  4. Change your focus. Let go of the fixed points of view, assumptions and conclusions that based on your past experience. Stretch your perception beyond reality to possibility.
  5. Cultivate a full-spectrum perspective. Stop functioning from a linear perspective. Start looking at things from different standpoints and be willing to embrace and deal with complex and diverse ideas.

Chutisa and Steven Bowman are internationally renowned advisors on strategy, risk, leadership, governance and creating a culture of strategic awareness at Board and senior executive levels. Together, they have authored Leading from the Edge of Possibilities and No More Business As Usual.

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