Chapter 3

Leveraging Multiple Skill Sets

In The Innovator's DNA, authors Jeff Dyer, Hal Gregersen, and Clayton M. Christensen list five “discovery skills” of disruptive innovators.1 The five skills are associating, questioning, observing, networking, and experimenting.

It is interesting to note that none of those skills involves any special forms of technical expertise, experience, or even intelligence. Essentially, the critical skills listed in The Innovator's DNA are social skills. The authors seem to be saying that communication and interaction are fundamental parts of the modern innovation process. The authors write that “innovators are consummate questioners who show a passion for inquiry. Their queries frequently challenge the status quo.”

Moreover, successful innovators act with courage. “First, they actively desire to change the status quo,” according to the authors. “Second, they regularly take smart risks to make that change happen.”

The authors found that innovative CEOs “spend 50 percent more time on discovery activities (questioning, observing, networking and experimenting) than CEOs with no innovation track record.”

Innovative CEOs and entrepreneurs actually walk the talk. They are not just instructing the people around them to be more innovative; they are doing it themselves.

From my perspective, the takeaway is that innovation requires a combination of soft skills and hard skills, and a blending of multiple processes across several disciplines.

Networking and Connecting ...

Get Leading the Epic Revolution: How CIOs Drive Innovation and Create Value Across the Enterprise now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.