It takes unique cognitive abilities to get you to breakthrough innovation.


C-Abilities for Innovation Dream Teams

Critical 8 Cognitive Abilities for Innovation Team Assembly

C-Abilities why they are critical for innovation success

Cognitive Abilities or C-Abilities are often more critical to success than conventional skills that most people can learn after a while. The 8-C abilities for Innovation Teams, consist of Curious, Courageous, Clairvoyant, Confident, Creative, Collaborative, Communicative, and Continuous.

Learn more about C-Abilities

To learn more about the cognitive abilities and how to develop an Innovation Dream Team attend our next Innovation Dream Team Assembly Workshop.

Success is all about people – more precisely TEAMs

The top investors in the world, putting billions into Unicorns (Companies that have a valuation above $1 Billion), have all three key aspects when investing in new businesses: Team – Team – Team. The SUCCESS of an innovation team is EXCLUSIVELY dependent on a perfect, and solve selected team assembly. Really “exclusively”? Isn’t the enterprise and its organizational structure, rules, regulations, limits, and culture equally important? Not really. When exploring each of the C-abilities very carefully, you will notice that there is a certain type of people who simply do not care – they are also known as not really “Konzernfähig” a German term that made it also in other societies and meaning the ability to work and succeed in an enterprise environment. But if Konzernfähig or not the key ist not about the fact that somebody comes from a startup or from an enterprise – the key is the person’s C-Abilities.

C-Abilities Explained

The magic of cognitive abilities is no magic at all

Those eight C-Abilities are “exclusive”, meaning if one ability is missing it puts the success of an entire innovation team at risk. AND it is also inclusive. Meaning it does not matter what education a person has, what background they are from, or what society, country, or ethnic group they are coming from.

1) Curious

C-Abilities Curiosity is a key for every innovator, researcher, creative mind, or similar engagements. It’s the first in the list of C-Abilities we suggest exploring with innovation team candidates. An innovation team member needs to be deeply interested in every aspect of what the current situation is that needs innovation, they need to know as much as possible about how their customers have a need or dream for different solutions or what may be painful for users without even recognizing it. Curious people try to dive deep – yet they may be lightyears away from being an expert in the field. Interestingly enough, being an expert in the field is usually one of the biggest disadvantages because it reduces curiosity and openness. 
2) Courageous
C-Abilities A new solution, in particular, a breakthrough, needs extreme courage to make decisions against all odds and courage to stand their ground. An innovation team in large organizations will quickly learn that the executives that need to give approval will most likely reject the concept. Not because they are too conservative, too closed-minded, or just don’t get it – they have just not yet been convinced. It takes courage to oppose an opinion from an executive and to continue it takes extreme communication skills, confidence, and creativity. During the innovation project, the innovation team will constantly make major decisions. Deciding who to call if they need rare knowledge, what to drop and with what to continue in ideation processes, It’s often easier to reject an idea than investigating time to understand it. Fighting for an idea takes intelligence communication talent and courage.
3) Clairvoyant
C-Abilities Clairvoyant is a rarely used term but a great way to explain an ability that has no other word. With clairvoyance, we mean that far-sighted instinct with fast decision-making ability to see a new opportunity. An interesting business opportunity, an interesting opportunity to use technology in a completely different way of seeing potential in an idea, a person, a solution, that can only somebody see who can envision where it can be taken. Clairvoyance is the ability to be visionary but also the ability to construct the future around that ability. If innovation team members lack such an ability, it may tier down the motivation of the entire team as it takes a lot of communication talent, collaboration talent, creativity, and continuity to work on such visionary ideas and concepts until everybody in the team can “see” it as well. The higher the clairvoyance level of all team members is, the faster is the inter-team communication. We consider Clairvoyance the C-Ability that needs unique attention because this ability is the least researched.
4) Confident
C-Abilities Team members need to be confident in everything they say or do and open enough to share thoughts that are just far from being substantiated. Confidence shows best when one is confident enough that he or she is completely unclear about their idea. On the other hand, confidence is important when explaining a construct or solution that has never been built before but all data and tests indicate that it will work and if not the team will be able to make it work. Every team member needs to be confident about at least the part they contributed in the innovation. Lack of confidence is a sign of not being sure because there are too many factors that have never been considered. Then consider them instead of trying to be artificially confident. Whoever will see or hear about the innovation – no matter in what state – will always be very cautious anyway. And confident people will know they can’t promise or guarantee anything and they will say so. 
5) Creative
Creativity is an interesting beast. It appears that we all have it, yet we realize that we lose it once we are adults and on the job. We also learn that we have ideas every other day. Some are simpler others are getting quite interesting, in particular when the experiences are very rare. Brainstorming typically creates very modest ideas, nothing extraordinary – and if so most get rejected because they are not understood. These are cases where creativity needs a lot of communication abilities, confidence, and courage. Creativity however gets extremely interesting when the composition of past experiences is using experiences that have been not real experiences such as Scifi Movies. Then it looks like we hit the borderline of true ideation. But since also the Scifi ideas are based on past experiences, we will realize that there are simply a few innovations between today’s reality and visionary thoughts. All in all, creativity is something that most people have from birth. But if we don’t develop it like a muscle in our body it will deteriorate. as such, it needs unique attention within our C-Abilities.


6) Collaborative
Opportunities The creativity of a single brain is already enormous. But when multiple brains work on the same thing and all brains have the necessary cognitive abilities, it can only be imagined how powerful such a team can get. Collaboration has a few important rules: everybody is at the same level but nobody is equal to another. Having more of the same is usually very powerful in most cases of collaboration, not really in the case of innovation. Innovation teams live from a high diversity of backgrounds and experiences. Unlike an R&D or Research Center where almost everybody is an expert, in Innovation Teams an expert is just one of many other backgrounds. What if you have somebody with you who is below average intelligence and only asks “stupid” questions? You may quickly learn that “Stupid Questions” and lack of what we admire as “intelligence” is a stupid concept of modern society and we can learn from absolutely everybody. The key aspect of innovation collaboration is the willingness to see an interesting aspect in anything anybody says. If 10 people, all with very different backgrounds explain the value of the Internet, you have a 90% chance that you have 10 fundamentally different answers. That variety in collaboration drives massive contributions to breakthrough ideas.
7) Communicative
As already mentioned in different ways and shapes, in the other abilities, communication is a strategic ability to share and communicate ideas, concepts, reasons, purpose, values, and benefits of a given innovation to others. If an innovation team needs executive approval and funding it not only needs a meeting with a stellar presentation and convincing arguments. It needs to build up the executive mindset far before even an idea is born. Buy-in is a process and not an event. Communication is the most strategic vehicle to transition ideas and concepts from one brain to the other. It is a key C-Ability that is needed in conjunction with all other C-Abilities. If a highly passionate innovator with the boldest ideas on earth meets the CFO for the first time and explains that the innovation he is going to present will bring the enterprise to a global market leader position, the innovator will have lost without even mentioning what the investment may be. Knowledge communication between ‘like-minded’ brains is hard enough. But when differently wired people meet it takes a mediator and a lot of training and preparation. A breakthrough innovation will never be understood in the same way by any of the team members who brought it together. Each person’s synapses contain different relations for each part of the innovation. And we have never enough time to communicate it all. The key reason why handing an innovation over from the innovation team to the regular sales, marketing, and production teams has failed in over 90% of the cases.
8) Continuous
Innovation teams hit the wall a hundred times during the lifetime of an innovation project. The big tagline for all of them is “Never give up = never surrender”. Without continuous effort a project will fall apart and if the team members don’t have the ability to stick to what they started, no matter what, it will fail in the end. Having that ‘Continuous’ talent is a key cognitive ability to test with every team member. It starts already with selecting the team. It is so much easier to decide to start anyway with the excuse that it will be too hard to find an Innovation Dream Team, the whole innovation effort is already in danger before it even started. During an innovation project people may want to give up when they don’t get the right feedback from the market, then when they don’t find the right idea to solve a given problem, then when the first interviews indicate that the idea is that compelling, then when funding is not given. Further in the process when growth is not as expected, the market feedback is not as hoped, the product is not as stable as expected, and so forth. And it all that went well, the solution is most likely not a real breakthrough innovation. Multi-billion dollar breakthrough innovations don’t grow on trees. And even it is often explained as a napkin idea that was funded with millions and grew into billions overnight. There is no known case from the past 5,000 years where that happened. 

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