Finding and grooming breakthrough innovators

Great article in the December edition of the Harvard Business Review by Jeffrey Cohn, Jon Katzenback and Gus Vlak (Finding and Grooming Breakthrough Innovators).

Key points:

  • Truly innovative people are rare – at best 5 to 10% of high potential managers in any organization. 

  • Most organizations develop leaders to replicate rather than innovate. 

  • Innovators propose new ideas. Resident experts within the organization weigh in. And then the innovators hone in on the most critical components, see connections and figure out how to bridge difficult parts, work hard and efficiently and cultivate internal buy-in.

So what's an innovator look like?

  • They have strong cognitive abilities and excellent analytic skills.

  • They don't rest on their laurels.

  • They're "ridiculously socially aware of their surroundings at all times". An independent mind + social involvement and the ability to shift between isolation and a larger group gets great ideas implemented.

  • They're persuasive and charming.

  • And they're extremely curious and always shopping for new ideas.

When you find your innovators, let them work with live ammunition, provide multiple mentors, foster peer networks and replant innovators into the middle of your organization. 

Published by

Jay Robb

I've reviewed more than 500 business books for the Hamilton Spectator since 1999 and worked in public relations since 1993.

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