Innovator’s DNA – has Israel discovered the code?

“How do I find innovative people for my organization? And how can I become more innovative myself?”

Thus commences a fascinating read from The Harvard Business Review. The authors ask what is the common link between “visionary entrepreneurs like Apple’s Steve Jobs, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, eBay’s Pierre Omidyar, and P&G’s A.G. Lafley”. And they come up with 5 skills that set apart such people from us ordinary types.

We found that innovative entrepreneurs (who are also CEOs) spend 50% more time on these discovery activities than do CEOs with no track record for innovation. Together, these skills make up what we call the innovator’s DNA. And the good news is, if you’re not born with it, you can cultivate it. 

Imagine that you have an identical twin, endowed with the same brains and natural talents that you have. You’re both given one week to come up with a creative new business-venture idea. During that week, you come up with ideas alone in your room. In contrast, your twin (1) talks with 10 people—including an engineer, a musician, a stay-at-home dad, and a designer—about the venture, (2) visits three innovative start-ups to observe what they do, (3) samples five “new to the market” products, (4) shows a prototype he’s built to five people, and (5) asks the questions “What if I tried this?” and “Why do you do that?” at least 10 times each day during these networking, observing, and experimenting activities. Who do you bet will come up with the more innovative (and doable) idea?

So what? Well, there has been much talk recently about Israel’s ability to use innovation skills in order to lead the economy away from recession.

Here’s the thing. Israel has not fared well in the past decade with its eduction standards, particularly at primary and secondary levels. And yet, the products of the system are entering economic life well prepared for the challenges.

As I parent, I am amazed. I cannot describe how many times I feel distraught at the lack of homework and poor attitude, sloppiness.  BUT….

But the article says you can learn to be innovative. I can see how the methodology is similar to how my children cope with their projects at school.

Wierd, yet it’s worth asking. Is the breakthrough to finding the code of “innovator’s DNA” hidden by the muck of a failing education system?

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2 Comments on “Innovator’s DNA – has Israel discovered the code?”

  1. […] than most. Innovation has helped Israel to reach the levels of OECD membership. I have wondered if Israel has discovered the DNA of […]

  2. […] With the ability of hindsight, we can pick out a few wise pundits who foresaw how to get through the meltdown, at least at the micro level of company management. In particular, I recall several articles from “The Economist” and “The Harvard Business Review” which called on CEOs to invest in marketing and growth activites. […]

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