Is it passion and belief in what you are doing? Or perhaps that hunger and desire to do everything possible to keep your customers happy? Maybe it’s the understanding that everyone in your business has to be part of the same innovation journey?
In most cases, it is probably a mixture of all these factors, with a sprinkle of fairy dust on top. However, one thing that unites innovators is that they have no fear of failure.
When I chaired three innovation seminars for Scottish Enterprise last year, this came through loud and clear.
Alison Nicolson, of fatframe (‘the kid-friendly iPd super-protection system’), put it like this: “It’s about having a go, keeping having a go and learning from your mistakes.” The same message came through loud and clear from innovators working in fields as diverse as space technology, interior design, precision engineering instruments and business management software.
Mark Evans, of NomadiX Media, pioneers in wearable technology, said: “It’s about seizing the opportunity – if it comes, jump on a plane and go. You won’t do it from your armchair.”
What all the businesses at the innovation seminars also shared was a terrific ability to tell stories about their innovation experiences. None of them had a precise definition of innovation, but they had all found out, both instinctively and through experience, how to do it. And they were all great storytellers who had the ability to inform and inspire others. They had all overcome challenges, and seized opportunities.
I look forward to hearing similar stories of inspiring innovation journeys at Venturefest Scotland 2016, from businesses in fields as diverse as engineering, tourism, renewable energy and product design.
Part of the programme will also examine how to avoid innovation ‘killers’ but in my experience, innovators have some kind of sixth sense when it comes to skipping around the roadblocks. To return to my original question, successful innovators have no fear and they tell good stories. That ability – to tell the story of your successes, and how you overcame failures – seems to me to be hard-wired into innovators. Perhaps that is what makes good innovators great.
* David Lee will chair a Scottish Enterprise discussion session themed on ‘How to Identify Innovative Opportunities and Avoid Innovation Killers’ at Venturefest Scotland 2016 at Glasgow Science Centre on 1 September. Register FREE now.