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Creativity and Risk-taking Competencies for Innovation

Creativity and Risk-taking Competencies for Innovation

| On 18, Feb 2010

Ellen Domb

Can you teach other people to be innovators?   Or can you teach yourself to be more innovative?   TRIZ practioners learn to generate innovative ideas, but they don’t always get their ideas adopted in their organizations.

Sarah Miller Caldicott is co-author of Innovate Like Edison and author of a very good blog on innovation:    This month she combines some of her experience and Edison-based research with the work of Dr. Jacqueline Byrd on innovation in 14,000 organizations.

I won’t repeat the full research discussion — see Caldicott’s blog or Byrd’s book for more details, but some of the exercises may help TRIZ Journal/Real Innovation readers see why I think this is research that will help.

Byrd finds that there are 8 corporate competencies that interplay with each other in the course of innovation, that can be defined on a two-axis matrix of Creativity vs. Risk-taking, with the 5.1% who are high on both parameters identified as the Innovators.

She finds that there are 4 ways to encourage creativity and 3 ways to encourage risk-taking.
Creativity increase exercises:   Encourage the ability to deal with ambiguity, to work independently, to be inner-directed, and to be unique and value uniqueness in others.  I would personally add development of TRIZ tools and methods here, to give people a WAY to use what these attitudes encourage.
Risk-taking increase exercises:  Encourage authenticity, expand resilience, and strengthen self-acceptance.   I need to learn more, since there seems to be a lot of overlap between authenticity as a risk-taking element  and the independence and uniqueness elements.

The other corporate competencies have their own ratios of creativity to risk-taking (for example, the Challenger is high on risk-taking but low on creativity, and the Synthesizer is high on creativty and mid-level on risk-taking.) Future issues of the newsletter will look at ways to improve these competencies, and the interplay between them.

Weaving Caldicott’s research on how Edison brought new people into his research lab with Byrd’s research on 14,000 companies should give us all some new insights into the process of learning innovation.