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What Are The Characteristics of Innovative People

Innovation and being innovative involves uncertainty, creativity, and specific ideas that not everyone has or is willing to accept. What distinguishes innovative people from others? In a study published in the International Journal of Innovation Management, Esade innovation experts Lotta Hassi and Satu Rekonen of Aalto University investigated how individual traits facilitate experimental behavior. “Errors and unexpected results are unique to practical innovation.

Our research shows that actively adapting to adversity and not overcoming challenges is an essential feature of innovative people. “The author explains the crucial characteristics of creative people.

Innovation is the practical implementation of ideas that result in the introduction of new goods or services or improvement in offering goods or services.ISO TC 279 in the standard ISO 56000:2020  defines innovation as “a new or changed entity realizing or redistributing value”. Others have different definitions; a common element in the definitions is a focus on newness, improvement, and spread of ideas or technologies.

Continuous reflection 

Participants with innovative behavior adopted continuous reflection. In short, they questioned the project’s initial idea and direction. Through constant thinking, participants could recognize new information that might have been important to the project, such as the radar scanning the environment endlessly.

Independent Exploration 

Participants weren’t very open to letting go or trying other things when they stuck to the idea. Innovation-prone people could postpone sticking to ideas and remain open to exploring different possible directions before settling on a single option. More innovative participants were able to wait to stick to the idea.

Iteration between abstract and concrete thinking 

The staff struggled to move from abstract concepts to concrete details in the experiment. Individuals were predominantly strong in specific ideas. However, those who could move fluidly between conceptual and practical thinking and maintain a connection between them were willing to recognize the uncertainty of the concept and design a perfect experimental setting.


Another driving force for innovative people was behavior-oriented behavior. This personality trait allowed them to move from intellectual work to practical ideas. This proved to be fundamental in prototyping and conducting experiments. Action-oriented individuals encouraged teams to move from planning experiment setups to prototyping and early experimentation.

Opportunity oriented 

While some individuals only saw dead ends, opportunity-oriented participants were able to identify opportunities in different situations and share some possible routes of the project with the team. This played an important role in advancing the team to the experiment. This idea encouraged innovative action in the event of unexpected opportunities. People who actively adapt to adversity are more likely to engage in creative behavior.

Mental resilience 

This study shows that those who actively adapt to adversity and do not tolerate challenges are more likely to take innovative actions. Mental resilience enables people to absorb new information with negative feedback, accept it constructively, and maintain their ability to act. It also means letting go of the idea when it proves to have failed and continuing to look for other solutions.

Intellectual Humility 

Field data showed that intellectual humility is also at the heart of innovation. The more innovation-driven individuals had a humble mindset in the face of new information and were open to learning while acknowledging the limitations of their knowledge. Intellectual humility also allows us to openly share discouraging feedback, which can open new avenues for developing alternative solutions.


When running the experiments, the individuals had to submit their unfinished ideas for early evaluation by users or other relevant stakeholders and receive instant feedback. These situations required participants to show courage and step out of their comfort zone, as they did not know what the response would be. The only way to find out was to place themselves in a vulnerable situation, facing the risk of refusal and failure.

Sensitivity towards uncertainties 

In the study, most individuals experienced difficulties with being sensitive to uncertainties. Participants needed constant support from the instructor to identify the delays before proceeding with the experimental design. More innovation-driven individuals were open to learning by acknowledging the limits of their knowledge.

The temptation to go straight to the idea’s implementation was so great that it was impossible to identify individual uncertainties. With the help of the instructor, various delays were discovered, and changes were made to the solution in the following experiment.

Design a valuable experiment 

When designing an experiment setup, participants struggled to create a valuable experiment. In short, I had a hard time keeping the experiment small, fast and focused. In tutoring sessions, participants were trained to develop the ability to identify the smallest and fastest actions to generate and move forward with the learning needed.

Learning extraction 

Field data showed that it was difficult for participants to learn from the experiments. To encourage innovative behavior, individuals need to pay attention to how they use unexpected information and events, meaningful comments, and feedback to improve their original ideas.

Implement learning and adaptation of ideas 

Experiments implement those insights in their projects, adapt their ideas, and move them forward meaningfully.

What are Innovative people’s behavior
What are Innovative people's behavior
Photo by Pavel Danilyuk on Pexels

In reality, most people struggle to be innovative, but these practices lead to lasting inspiration. On the one hand, they innovate – usually not just once, but several times. Steve Jobs isn’t just known for one product. He was known to a handful. Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk weren’t happy with the track record. They have developed dozens. And while this may look like a business to these people as usual, in reality, most people struggle to innovate repeatedly.

They build successful products and businesses, earn rewards, and fight for it again. We in the innovation industry have long wanted to stand out and share the six qualities that all great innovators have in common. These motivated, committed and passionate about constantly pushing the creative boundaries of what other parts of the world consider “possible.”

  • Clarity of vision and the infinite expanse of knowledge 

Curiosity is a never-ending source of inspiration. One of the great qualities of an innovative thinker is curiosity, being open-minded, and being willing to think outside the standard paradigm. If most people feel comfort evenly, innovators tend to reject it. Many other people find it a bit uncomfortable to do so because they want to go beyond what is comfortable. The signal of whether someone is expanding their innovative lead is their attitude towards retirement. For many, retirement is the goal. But for the creative thinkers and problem solvers of our society, retirement is a death sentence. They will be interested in making things as much as possible.

  • Understand that you need help to build your vision 

The greatest innovators in human history were not one man or woman. They were leaders with a team of people who helped realize their creative vision. This is an aspect of innovation that has not been fully discussed. No one can maintain the level of skills and personality types needed to make a product or company as successful as possible. Innovation is an iterative process that benefits greatly from the perspectives and expertise of others. In that sense, other collaborative influences are valuable assets.

This was seen directly in both Hydros and Nottingham Spirk businesses. Surrounded by people from different backgrounds and different abilities and skills, we were able to create products that were far more differentiated than we could ever be. Great innovators know that they can’t and shouldn’t do everything themselves. Innovation is not a “solo sport.”

  • Create excitement and maintain a constant source of inspiration 

New business development is one of the most valuable skills you’ve ever learned as an innovator. Designing a beautiful, memorable, and highly differentiated product is one thing. But you must be able to persuade others to believe in your vision to make it happen. This was one of the reasons Steve Jobs became an iconic leader in the business world. He was more than just a good product designer. It was also confirmed that he had a charisma that made people believe in his vision.

He’s a constant source of inspiration, and in Walter Isaacson’s book, to make others (team members, investors, clients) believe that it’s possible to look impossible at first glance. We have identified Steve’s ability to create practical “real warping fields.” His legendary keynote with Apple is now the standard for introducing any technology company. Another great example is Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Doctor. There is an excellent documentary about their music career.

After reaching the peak of their career, they founded The Defiant Ones, one of the world’s most valuable headphone companies (Beats). After watching this documentary, you can see that Jimmy Iovine worked harder than anyone else. He has the business stamina that Olympic athletes will have in sports.

  • Infinite desire to think big and change the world 

I saw GoPro CEO Nick Woodman spoke at CES a few years ago. The company was just released, and he was asked, “You’re worth more than $ 3 billion.” His reaction was, “Let’s make a better product!” The technology leaders were in the crowd, so we all agreed.

For a true innovator, success is part of the journey, not the destination. When they reach a significant successful milestone, they celebrate for a while and then return to work. They fell in love with “work,” so there was no fixed goal.

  • Openness and readiness to change every second 

Innovation is the strange balance between being 100% confident in what you are building and being 100% willing to change your entire effort as new information emerges. I attended the Innovation Conference, where Pixar co-founder Edwin Catmull was the speaker. He said one of Steve Jobs’ most excellent skills is identifying promising ideas and knowing when others have better ideas. That’s also why it’s so difficult.

You need to trust your vision to move forward, but you must be open-minded enough to recognize when you are wrong or on the wrong path. Of course, this is the only way to learn one of these.

  • Commitment to diligence and self-improvement 

Finally, it would help if you keep committing to the process.
There are no milestones you will reach as a “you did it” innovator—a place where everything you create from this moment is guaranteed to succeed. Innovation and creating new things in society are discovery processes that require hard work. And during each day or time you spend enjoying how far you have come, you must experience hundreds of challenging times, wondering if you are even moving in the right direction.

OnlineMag24 Editorial Team

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