The Habits of Innovative People

In their book, The Innovator’s DNA, Dyer, 
Gregersen and Christensen state that “…innovative thinkers connect fields, problems, or ideas that others find unrelated’. The authors have identified four discovery skills that ‘trigger associational thinking by helping innovators increase their stock of building block ideas from which innovative ideas spring” (Dyer et al., 2011, p. 23). The four key skills are:

  • Questioning: innovative people always ask “why” and they love to challenge the status quo.
  • Observing: innovative people pick up on the smallest of details in how people behave and the ways in which things are done, giving them food for thought.
  • Networking: innovative people invest time in linking up with people from different backgrounds and with different expertise and they learn from them.
  • Experimenting: innovative people constantly explore new ways of doing things and new experiences.

These four key skills together have a mutually reinforcing impact on the fifth skill: associative thinking. They stretch and develop the ability to be creative and to make connections that may not be obvious to others, thus strengthening the process of associative thinking.

Originally published in
Coaching for Innovation – Tools and Techniques for Encouraging New Ideas in the Workplace
2014, Palgrave Macmillan