How Do Innovators Think?

Posted By: Petey Parker
November 20th, 2009

Thinking Child

Jeff Dyer of Brigham Young University was quoted in the Editors’ Blog of the Harvard Business Review: “The first skill (humans learn) is what we call “associating.” It’s a cognitive skill that allows creative people to make connections across seemingly unrelated questions, problems, or ideas. The second skill we learn is questioning- an ability to ask “what if?” “why?” and “why not?” questions that challenge the status quo and open up the bigger picture. The third is the ability to closely observe details, particularly the details of people’s behavior. Another skill is the ability to experiment – the people we studied are always trying on new experiences and exploring new worlds. And finally, they are really good at networking with smart people who have little in common with them, but from whom they can learn.”

I love the question, “Why?” It leads into so many different directions and solutions:

  • Why can be the prologue to “Why not?”
  • What happens if you do vs. what happens if you don’t?
  • Why can be the resistance to good and bad ideas?
  • It is a skill of its own to be able to evaluate and create a positive spin on even the logic of why it’s a truly bad idea.
  • Why can be the inquisitive mind of a child?

By the way, someday you will be old and perhaps have a little loss of memory and YOU will be asking that child (grandchildren) WHY? Be as patient with them now as you expect them to be with you later. Eh?
Why can be the drill digging deeper to the REAL reason for decision making.
I use this one word relentlessly when I’m in a consulting mode with my incredible clients; I always dig for the core reason and motivation before settling for a stock answer or vague objection:

Why can designate that status quo is NOT good enough

Leaders and innovators inspire us to think beyond the obvious. Good is never enough for them. Is it enough for you?
Innovators ask these questions on their way to finding imaginative worlds for the rest of us to live and work in. Let’s hear it for these courage folk!!!

What about you?

  • When do YOU ask “why?”?
  • Why do YOU ask “why?”?
  • What do you do with the answers you get?
  • Are you intimidated or innovative with new thought processes?

“All effective innovations are breathtakingly simple.” Peter Drucker

Petey says…
Read anything by Peter Drucker. Those of us who’ve been in management for a long, long time consider him the Big Daddy of all knowledge and he still remains “Right On” in the world of innovative business..

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Categories: Leadership

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