innovator, entrepreneur

7 Habits to Unleash the Innovator Within

Productivity is based on actions and nurtured through habits/routines. Innovation is based on new ways of viewing existing problems. Achievement is the result of actions applied to thoughts and ideas.


Here are some of the things innovative and productive people do every day — and how these habits spur innovative thoughts and meaningful actions.

These 7 habits will help you to develop mental and behavioral habits that increase innovation and productivity. We can train ourselves to think with an enhanced sense of awareness, spot opportunities and leverage our ideas to constantly improve the way things are done!

  1. “Think like a traveler” When you think like a traveler, you are in a hyper state of awareness (noticing differences in clothing, money, shoes, hair, service). You will spot more opportunities if you are in a hyper state of awareness. Having a more up to date view of human behavior gives you an advantage, similar to the way market demand should drive product development. We must meet people where they are and provide products, features and solutions that customers want to use.
    • Capture ideas, and have a develop a habit for recording your observations and lessons to use them in organizational settings.
    • “The real act of discovery comes not in discovering new land, but seeing with new eyes”
    • “Track your thoughts and organize them to present later, when you have the ear of the stake holders”
    • “Spot and notice what you see, and see it as an opportunity, it will bring value and give you power as an innovator”
  2. Be a change champion. As practitioners, we need to adapt. For me, it’s more fun to be the change champion, imagining how things could be done differently and in completely new ways. As an innovator, you must try better ways of doing familiar tasks.
  3. Record your observations, lessons and reflections. Make small discoveries and question the assumption of development and process. Use it as a tool to recognize opportunities and put yourself in a position of power within an organization.
  4. Have an Attitude of wisdom. Find the balance between confidence in what you know and distrusting conventional wisdom (resting on your morals). What gets you in trouble is not what you don’t know; it is “what you think you know, that isn’t so.”
  5. Be passionate. Blur the line between work and play. Blend family, recreation, health, and volunteer causes into your business. Then you’re willing to put in the extra mental energy because you love what you’re doing.
  6. Use your whole brain. This can get technical. But I will keep this at a 10,000 foot view. The analytical skills/left brain develops during High School/College, right brain/intuition develops as we get older. Learn to trust your gut. —
    • Use your tortes mind — contemplation mind, growing an idea from seed, processing in the background until an “a ha” moment occurs. Compare to Long term projects. Take some time to daydream and discover your muses (most productive times, Realize what circumstances allow you to be most creative, and leverage them). —
    • Find you hair brain — fast, active thoughts like focus, concentration, under your direct control. Compare to short term tasks.
  7. Take risks and be prepared for failure. Treat life as an experiment, but assume everything will not work out. It’s TRUE, everything won’t work out! Be ready to take loses, but be smart in the risk you assume. Find ways to step outside your comfort zone and minimize risk while committing to execute a plan and evaluate the opportunity. If you learn from every experiment and every failure, you are failing forward.
    • Take Thomas Edison for example, the inventor of the light bulb and GE, but failed thousands of times throughout the process.
    • WD40 — named because the first 39 formulas were failures
    • “James Dyson –states in his book that he had “5128 failures/prototypes before reaching his successful product.”

If you practice these habits, you can nurture your own creativity, stay young at heart, and impact change at the personal, organizational, or product level.

Innovation doesn’t require reinventing yourself over and over; it requires you to learn to view the same things through different eyes.

This post was inspired by Jeff Haden’s, article 9 Awesome Things Entrepreneurs Are Too Nice To Brag About, and Tom Kelley, the top selling author and partner at IDEO. This content resonates deeply from my experiences with a variety of start-ups and large corporations. Regardless of company size, organizational productivity and growth can be directly attributed to employee engagement. Engaged employees are active contributors which foster a culture of innovation, productivity, and customer service. At an individual level, if you remain curious and young at heart, you will find opportunities to impact change.

To see upcoming posts from Mike Spence follow his LinkedIn news feed, connect to his account by clicking the “Follow” button at the top right of the page.

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