Six Innovation Skills Everyone Needs

What are the innovation skills needed to be successful in creating new ideas and products? Many people often find themselves void of creativity in the innovation world. This stems from a deeper issue. On today’s show, we will go through in more detail what innovation skills separate those that have limited success to those that have continual success. The core set of skills to be successful and to win regardless of your organization type, size or geographical location are the same.

Innovation Skills

Self-Confidence in Creativity

The number one skillset I have discussed many times over the years is self-confidence that you are creative. We were all born highly creative. Watch kids with the creative things they say, do and come up with. The problem is creativity is driven out of us from an early age. Children learn conformity from grade school through college. We are brainwashed into thinking that it is vital to act the same in order to be relevant. When we move into a professional career we are asked to be more creative, think differently and come up with solutions, after being taught conformity for 16+ years. It’s no myth that CEOs recruit creativity. Creativity drives innovation. It's a catalyst for growth in a business. If you are not exercising your creativity and unlocking its potential you could become irrelevant.


Another key skillset is bravery. The opposite if innovation bravery is conformity. You have to go out and apply your creativity. Share your thoughts and ideas. Take some risks. Try something you haven’t done before. The fear and feeling of failure holds us back and kills the bravery. You have to get over the fear of failure to be brave. Step out, get permission or give permission to go and fail. Go out and experiment, test the limits, break the norm and be brave.

Seeing with Fresh Eyes

One important skillset that gets harder to use as you get more experienced is your perspective. Seeing with fresh eyes and having a beginner's mind will guide you to develop breakout products and services. Don’t let your area of expertise cloud your vision, but have an attitude of openness. Every year of experience in an expertise or capability area you become more and more closed to different approaches or new opportunities. No matter how many times you have seen and worked a type of initiative/project you need to put aside your expertise and come in with a new mindset to each initiative. Adopt an approach with many possibilities and avoid getting caught in the trap of an expert mindset with fewer possibilities and being categorized as a naysayer.

Ability to Craft & Ask Great Questions

How does one get the creative thoughts and ideas flowing? The answer is by asking questions. Questions hold great power. They get people thinking. There are simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions, leading questions and questions you craft to discover. The power of creating and collecting your own questions is critical in the innovation world. It will help you create new ideas and eliminate problems. Coming in as a new leader I crafted four questions to gain a unique insight. Developing these questions is vital to deriving input from your team, vendors, partners, leaders as well as potential beneficiaries of your idea.

Continually, coming up with different ways of asking a question can generate discoveries that are unique. For instance, if I ask you the question of what is half of thirteen and you respond six and a half. I would give you an ‘A ‘on a math test, but in innovation, I would give you a ‘C’. Why, because you stopped at the first obvious answer. Now if I craft the question slightly differently and ask you how many different ways can you convey half of thirteen? There are more ways than one, and it would surprise you how creative you can get.

To help out I’ve crafted a card deck that asks questions with a variety of angles to challenge you to think differently. Learning how to come up with ways to ask questions and reword them to ask differently, will give you a skill that generates new insights. The power of questions is absolutely critical in the innovation game. Begin creating and collecting your own questions today.

Dealing with Innovation Antibodies

One skill we need, but tend to overlook is dealing with innovation antibodies. When operating in the world of innovation, opposition often occurs. People may feel threatened by your idea for one reason or another. These people act as innovation antibodies, attacking your idea. How do you deal with this issue? No matter where you are in innovation, you will encounter different responses, and will have to work through them.

Here are the types of responses you will need to work through:

  • Ego Response – The jealousy of your idea coming from position of authority. Share some of the idea/give credit to get around these people
  • Fatigue Response – “I’ve tried that before.” Treat them as an adviser to help your idea
  • No-Risk Response – “That’s too risky.” Empathize with them and take risk seriously
  • Comfort Response – “We don’t need change, we're doing good.” Show them that things will not be good forever

Do you know an innovation antibody in your organization? What category would you put them in? Do others call you an innovation antibody? If so, what type are you?

 Innovation Attitude

A key skillset that is vital to success in innovation is to have an innovation attitude that permeates your culture. This based on a term I use called CARE to help push

C – Candor – freely share your creative thoughts and ideas with others. Be respectful, but be honest and encourage candor among yourselves and others. Invite them to act as an innovation antibody even on your ideas. If you don’t share your thoughts and ideas they don’t become real innovations—they have zero value.

A – Action – Act on ideas that will impact your organization. Take charge to enable progress and lean in. Provide solutions to issues both big and small regardless if it is your idea. Don’t let good ideas become stale because it wasn’t your idea, take action to drive them forward.

R – Risk – Understand the uncertainty and risk associated with trying new ideas. Take calculated risks or act on perceived risks. Get rid of perceived risks—many are not real risks. Learn from experiments and calculated risks. Understand how to manage risks and push forward.

E – Empower – Trust yourself and others to make a difference. Feel like you are empowered and have permission. Empower others and encourage leaders to empower—enable permission.


Let’s connect; I am on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. If we do connect, drop me a note and let me know. The email address is or you can go to and drop me a note there. If you are looking for innovation support go to TheInnovators.Network or want to be challenged to develop the next big idea, check out our Disruptive Ideation Workshops. Don’t forget to join our Innovators Community to enjoy more conversations around innovation.

To learn about the skills needed for a successful innovation, listen to this week's show: The Six Innovation Skills Everyone Needs.


RELATED:   Subscribe To The Killer Innovations Podcast


Zoom - 2017 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Meeting Solutions - Is a sponsor of the Killer Innovations Show

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.