(E) What do engineers, product managers, entrepreneurs who started with a few ideas, a few tools, and a few dollars have in common in generating a tremendous amount of value for their companies? Simply said, all of them started by identifying exciting problems, and then relentlessly working to solve them by challenging common assumptions with, in most cases, very scare resources.
Innovation starts first with observation. Business and technology problems are abundant for those willing to investigate them. Defining the right problem to solve is often more difficult than solving it.
Second, innovation grows in places where people can share their thoughts. Creativity requires trading ideas. That is the reason why students at Universities or engineers in Silicon Valley can innovate: there are many venues around them to explore their ideas.
Third, innovators challenge existing assumptions. Innovators will foresee if common solutions can be improved, common solutions are not addressing the right problem, or if the problem is not properly defined.
Fourth, space and time are critical for teams to innovate. Surroundings need to accommodate team interactions. And, deadlines pressure the team to come up with a working plan.
Sixth, with well defined and tight rules, teams work harder to achieve their goals. Teams that have loose working rules, lose over time their senses of purpose. Innovative teams need to balance in their work enjoyment with discipline.
Seventh, innovative teams experiment a lot of options, willing to learn from their mistakes in the process until they find the only path that will result in the best solution.
But at the end (eighth), the most innovative teams are the ones that always carry the attitude to endlessly overcome any barriers toward a successful outcome. That is very often how you can recognize if you have a creative team or not and if you should invest or not in that team.
Tina Seelig, Ingenius Levers for Unlocking Creativity, Stanford 2011 Entrepreneurship Week
Peter Drucker, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Harper & Row Publishers
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