London, England (CNN) — Coming up with brilliant, game-changing ideas is what makes the likes of Apple’s Steve Jobs so successful, and now researchers say they have identified the five secrets to being a great innovator
Professors from Harvard Business School, Insead and Brigham Young University have just completed a six-year study of more than 3,000 executives and 500 innovative entrepreneurs, that included interviews with high-profile entrepreneurs including Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Michael Dell, founder of Dell computers.
In an article published in December’s Harvard Business Review the researchers identified five skills that separate the blue-sky innovators from the rest — skills they labeled associating, questioning, observing, experimenting and discovering.
One of the men behind the study, Insead’s Hal Gregersen, told CNN, “What the innovators have in common is that they can put together ideas and information in unique combinations that nobody else has quite put together before.”
The researchers describe this ability to connect ideas as “associating,” and say it’s key to innovators’ ability to think outside the box. But they add that the secret to how the great innovators think is the way they act.
“The way they act is to observe actively, like an anthropologist, and they talk to incredibly diverse people with different world views, who can challenge their assumptions,” Gregersen told CNN.
“For them, everything is to be experimented upon — for example, if they walk into a bookstore and they’re used to reading history they might try psychology. All these behaviors are powerfully enhanced by a capacity to ask provocative, challenging questions of the world around them.”
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- How Do Innovators Think? (blogs.harvardbusiness.org)