What Makes Someone an Innovator?
With an ever-evolving business environment, innovators are becoming increasingly important. They are at the forefront of burgeoning markets for bringing a long change. Because of their key role in business, any organization would like to bring in more innovative members. Spotting an innovator is difficult, but there are some character traits that these types of individuals possess. When thinking of innovators, many people may come to mind but a single individual stands out: Elon Musk. Creator of Paypal, Tesla, and now SpaceX, Elon Musk embodies many of the characteristics of an innovator. So what makes Elon Musk and others an innovator?
Create Stretch Goals
Innovators set goals that go beyond the scope of a single project. These types of goals are difficult to achieve as they set an extremely high bar. With strong ambitions, innovators are forced to find new ways to achieve these goals. Much of Elon Musk’s recent work with SpaceX, a space exploration company, is a shining example of an innovator who stretches goals. Both figuratively and literally, Elon Musk is reaching for the stars.
Innovators Push Boundaries
Innovators tend to do things differently in both their work and personal life. They disregard conventional norms to achieve growth. Many innovators are not afraid to push boundaries and are often held back by the others around them. In the leader position, they will challenge employees to accomplish things that have never been done before.
Understand Innovation is Constant
Innovators understand that the process to create something new and unique is constant. Innovation is not a one-time event, but instead a continuous process of learning and evolving. This allows innovators to reach beyond what anyone has done before. Elon Musk once said, “I think that’s the single best piece of advice: constantly think about how you could be doing things better and questioning yourself.”
Demonstrate Exceptional Strategic Visions
Innovators carry the ability to look ahead and understand the best pathway for the company to take. Not only will innovators maintain a strategic vision, but they will articulate this clearly to others. Strategic views create a distinct direction for the organization and its employees. Elon Musk has demonstrated this type of character with his endeavor between Tesla, an electric car manufacturer, and SolarCity, a solar energy service company. He showed a clear strategic vision as the merger was designed so that old Tesla batteries can be used as batteries for solar panels to both maximize efficiency and lower costs.
In many cases, innovators prefer accelerated programs and prototypes over lengthy studies. Through emphasizing speed, innovators can push themselves and their team to achieve more. In such a competitive business environment, speed in both development and learning is crucial. Now, consumers expect this characteristic for new products or services in the age of instant gratification.
Understand the Importance of Employees
Innovators look at their team as the cornerstone in their innovate process. In many workspaces, innovators challenge traditional business with new management techniques. They work from the core of the company instead of a top-down approach. Elon Musk has said “The path to the CEO’s office should not be through the CFO’s office, and it should not be through the marketing department. It needs to be through engineering and design.” As an engineer himself, Elon Musk understands the importance of working with team members closely.
While these characteristics are essential, they are not requirements. Innovation comes in many different forms, and some of best breakthroughs go unnoticed. Stemming from this, many different qualities go into an innovative individual. No two people are the same; therefore, no two innovators are alike. On a broader scale, it boils down to leadership. Companies that can identify leaders that also possess the innovate characteristics discussed above experience the most success.