What do Great Innovators Have in Common?


Albert Einstein once said, “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.”

Coincidentally enough, curiosity and risk taking comprise one of the most imperative qualities of great innovators: the ability to encourage risk taking. Einstein, Marie Curie, Thomas Edison, Nellie Bly, Henry Ford: these pioneers in their fields all had at least one if not all of the ten qualities of great innovators. Perhaps the great innovators of today took a lesson from the playbooks of revolutionary innovators of the past.

In order to become a better innovator, it is necessary to have an idea of what those great innovators do that makes them great. In addition to risk and curiosity, there are several other more common sensical qualities. For example, it is necessary to start somewhere. Sounds easy enough, but it is a bit harder to put into practice if there are failures along the way. It is hard to persevere in the face of failure. Will your first attempt always be a success? Not likely. Will your second? Probably not. Will your tenth, even? It is still possible to fail then.

However, some of the best ideas come directly after the worst idea. But you can’t get there without going through the process. As Edison once said about his prolonged path to creating the lightbulb—and his many failures along the way—“I have not failed 700 times. I have succeeded in proving that those 700 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work.”

In the face of failure, it is often difficult to continue innovating, but staying positive is another good indicator of successful innovators and innovation. Don’t get discouraged! That winning idea might be right around the corner, or right after one of the least successful ideas. Stay the course! Innovation is not something that can be endeavored upon alone. The best innovators are team players, which also goes hand in hand with the teaching of others. These are two more qualities that are great signs of a successful innovator.

Two of the remaining qualities have to do with appreciating and valuing various aspects of the organization and the contributions of the team. One of the biggest is valuing culture. It’s very difficult to be innovative in an environment and organizational culture that is not conducive to that aim. 57% of CEOs believe the most important factor for successful innovation is the culture. Along with that, recognizing the innate worth of innovation itself is absolutely essential.

A great place to find a culture that values innovation is IdeaScale. Become part of a community where ideas can live because they are transparent and can be shared with others who can help them grow. Click here to sign up.

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