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The result of a six-year study, the team at HBR observed 25 innovative entrepreneurs and surveyed more than 3,000 executives and 500 individuals who had launched innovative companies or invented new products. The result? To discover what attributes beyond entrepreneurialism contributed to the special sauce, found in the make-up of individuals like Apples’ Steve Jobs or Amazon’s Jeff Bezos.

HBR found that most top executives aren’t trying to personally come up with strategic innovations, so much as to *facilitate* the innovation process. In contrast, C-level executives at innovative companies (making up 15% of the study’s spread) do the creative work themselves, embodying a trait called “creative intelligence.”

HBR’s research categorized five “discovery skills” that elevate creative executives:

  1. Associating connects seemingly unrelated questions, problems or ideas from different fields. “Fresh inputs trigger new associations; for some, these lead to novel ideas.”
  2. Questioning challenges assumptions imagines opposites to generate new alternatives and original insights and embraces constraints that service as catalysts for insight.
  3. Observing as a methodology for gaining careful, intentional and consistent information around customers, suppliers and other marketplace participants’ behavior.
  4. Experimenting fosters a destabilized culture of innovation construction of interactive experiences with the goal to provoke “unorthodox responses to see what insights emerge.”
  5. Networking provides innovators an opportunity to seek out others with varying ideas and perspectives that ultimately help extend their own knowledge domains.


I read the article mentioned above ( and thought it was interesting. While I am not offering an endorsement of a strategy, tactics, thoughts, service nor a company or author, the information was intellectually stimulating and thoughtful and worth a review.