For some people, innovative thinking is innate, while others may develop the skill over time.
Yet, one aspect that all innovators have in common is the ability to view situations or issues from alternative perspectives. Instead of creating what is already in demand, they may invent a product that people did not know they needed; as in the iPhone, for example.
On January 9, 2007, Steve Jobs unveiled the first iPhone. As of July 2016, 13 different iPhone models have been released and approximately one billion iPhones have been sold worldwide since it was first launched.
Before the iPhone was introduced, consumers were quite happy with their traditional cell phones. Yet, despite the hefty price tag that came with the new Apple product, as of June 29th, 2007, thousands of people were reported to be waiting outside of apple stores, awaiting its release. Of course, the rest, as they say, is history.
It goes without saying that innovative thinkers stand out because of the following traits:
1. Innovative thinkers are always curious.
Innovative thinkers are seldom satisfied with the information that is given to them. They always want to learn more. Thomas Edison (1847 – 1931) invented the electric light bulb, the telegraph, phonograph, and alkaline storage batteries. As a teenager, he was open-minded and learned to prove ideas through objective experimentation and examination.
2. Their ideas are fueled by their imagination.
“The greatest scientists are artists as well.” — Albert Einstein
Wernher von Braun is considered to be the “father of the U.S. space program.”His vision for the future paved the way for the present day’s space age. He knew at a young age that man would be able to build space stations and spacecraft styled after airplanes.
3. Innovative thinkers have a sixth sense when it comes to creating or inventing new things.
Innovative thinkers have an instinct for creating life-changing inventions. Nikola Tesla is considered one of the most respected technological scientists of all time. He invented the fluorescent lightbulb, the induction motor, and created alternating current. He proved the current’s safety by passing it through his own body.
4. They have the ability to change ideas or things into new and different combinations.
Galileo Galilei was referred to as the “father of modern astronomy, physics, and science.” He was not the inventor of the telescope but he was the first person to use it well. He made improvements to existing technology at that time and was able to discover the four largest moons of Jupiter. This, in turn, helped him verify that the sun is at the center of the center of the solar system.
5. They are persistent.
Steve Jobs changed the world through technological advancements, but he was not always successful. Although he was forced out of Apple in 1985, he returned in 1996, revolutionizing the company and the entire computer industry into what we know today.
These innovative thinkers became successful because of the traits that they possess. They all had passion for what they did, but in today’s modern world, passion alone is often not enough to become successful without the right career plan.
According to Dr. Heidi Grant Halvorson, individuals should choose a vocation that interlocks with your skills set as well as your values. She continued, there are two basic ways to achieve the right level of motivation to reach your goals:
What is the difference?
1. Promotion-focused people
- They see goals as opportunities for advancement, achievement, and rewards.
- They think about what they might gain if they are successful in fulfilling these goals.
- However, they tend to be overly-optimistic and more prone to error.
- They excel at:
- Innovation and creativity
- Grabbing opportunities to get ahead of the competition
- Embracing risk
- Working fast
- Generating plenty of options and alternatives
- Abstract thinking
2. Prevention-focused people
- They see goals as security.
- They focus on not losing everything that they have worked so hard for.
- They avoid risks and fulfill their responsibilities.
- They are people that others can rely on.
- However, they are usually wary of change or taking chances that they tend to work more slowly.
- They excel at:
- Being detail-oriented and thorough
- Reasoning and analytical thinking
- Anticipating problems
When you have identified what your dominant focus is, you will have an idea of what type of career or occupation you will excel in.
According to Dr. Halvorson’s analysis, innovative thinkers are promotion-focused people. Therefore, we want to know:
What are the top business professions for innovative thinkers?
Although innovation is often used interchangeably with creativity, there is a marked difference. Creativity involves “unleashing the potential” of the mind to think of new ideas, while innovation introduces change into stable systems.
The following are just a few of the best professions for innovative thinkers:
1. Commercial and industrial engineers
Their main focus is on how customers interact with technical products and services, such as cell phones and online shops. They do research and collect data on market needs and customer behavior. Based on their findings, they improve a product’s design and ease of use and they make sure that improvements made are flawlessly integrated with existing products or services.
2. Graphic designers
They communicate ideas visually for promotional or commercial purposes. They make use of words, images, and symbols to create logos, posters, packaging, and other products. They work closely with advertising, marketing, and communications people.
3. Interior designers
They are responsible for planning and furnishing the interior of residential, commercial, and industrial spaces. They make sure that these spaces are aesthetically pleasing, fully functional, and safe. They work with architects, engineers, and builders. Many of today’s interior designers are focused on developing environment-friendly and sustainable spaces.
Editors are responsible for planning, reviewing and revising written material for publication. They work with writers and together they explore new ideas and establish a schedule while maintaining specific style standards. They verify facts, correct grammar, and reorganize content to improve readability. They also make sure that the written content appeals to the target audience.
5. Technical writers
The main responsibility of technical writers is to communicate complex information to a general audience via informative but easy to understand articles. They work with other writers, product designers, engineers, customer support specialists, and editors who help obtain data and offer feedback on the draft and the final product.
6. Multimedia artists
They combine visual art with animation, sound, and storytelling using cameras, computers, and a variety of software. They are responsible for creating video games, music videos, informational videos, commercials, etc.
While there are surely a number of other jobs suitable for innovative thinkers, as seen from the aforementioned careers, each one requires a certain degree of technical skills. These skills can be learned by anyone who is driven toward this type of career.
Generally, innovators are obsessed with making the world better. They want to bring value to the market and they are focused on improving human life.
It is only logical, therefore, to encourage innovative thinking in school and in business.
At SC&C we offer Career Analysis to help senior decision-makers from all walks of life identify strategies and tactics to increase their value-add employment potential.