How Innovators Think

IBM has a reputation for corporate precision and blue suits. It also has a well-earned reputation for innovation. The reason can be traced to IBM’s single-word mantra, “Think.”

Innovators think. Furthermore, they think about thinking, and they think in certain ways.

In a great article in Fast Company entitled “Lessons in Innovation From Six of the World’s Most Creative Thinkers,” authors Ali Rushdan and Alrick Pagnon describe how some of the world’s best innovators think, including Hayao Miyazaki, Maya Angelou, Jeff Bezos, Ferran Adrià, Bunker Roy, and Sangeeta Bathia.

Here are three

How to Innovate Without Fear

Innovation is challenging. However, for larger, established businesses, innovation is more than challenging. It's scary. Innovation is considered to be risky, and risk is to be reduced at all costs.

Entrepreneur Magazine recently posted a short “Hangout” video entitled "To Manage Innovation, Manage Failure Better," discussing how larger businesses can advance beyond the fear that holds them back and move on to new levels of innovation success.

This quick 5 minute video is packed with strategies for banishing the fear of innovation, including:

  • Culture and mindset
  • Managing the fear of failure

Larry Page's Innovation Mindset

Google’s visionary CEO, Larry Page, may not be as much of a charismatic leader as Steve Jobs, nevertheless, Page and his team are, in Jobs’ words, “denting the universe.” In fact, Fortune Magazine recently described Page as “The most ambitious CEO in the universe.”

Page is an engineer and researcher, more like Thomas Edison than Steve Jobs. He revels in knowledge, and applies it to everything, including robotics, self-driving cars, and connecting the world with balloon-based Internet.

Page’s success as an innovator is largely due to his mindset:

  • Page repositions the goalposts to create an

How to Get the Innovation Mindset

In this classic Harvard Business video, Vijay Govindarajan explains the innovation mindset–how to get it, and how to keep it. In just seven minutes, Vijay masterfully treats a rich array of subjects, including:

  • Change
  • Mindset
  • Listening to new voices
  • Encouraging mavericks
  • Performance metrics
  • Innovation vs creativity
  • Collaboration
  • Toleration for failure
  • New markets

 Because it's so short, and the content is so good, I recommend listening at least three times. If you do, you will be well on the way to getting, and keeping, the innovation mindset!

The Most Important Thing a Leader Must Do

“So is there a way to encourage routine strategic thinking throughout the organization? I would say yes – and that it’s the most important thing you can do as a leader.”

That's what Robert Kabacoff wrote in a very popular piece in the Harvard Business Review entitled: "Develop Strategic Thinkers Throughout Your Organization." 


He describes strategic thinking as taking “a broad, long-range approach to problem-solving and decision-making that involves objective analysis, thinking ahead, and planning."

Furthermore, he states that it also means "thinking systemically.