It takes unique cognitive abilities to get you to groundbreaking innovation

Talents or Soft Skills matters – in some cases, even more than hard skills. One of those cases is with Innovation Development. Creating a groundbreaking innovation, something that changes the way people do things, needs a new perspective, open-mindedness, creativity, courage, and other cognitive abilities that are deeply engrained in a person’s mind. ‘Talent’ is probably a better word than ‘soft skill’ because talent is seen as something in a person’s character and skill is something that can be trained.  For the sake of this post, let’s use talent as something we are looking for when attracting innovation managers or innovation team members.

Key Success Factors of Innovation Teams

About ten years ago, we asked ourselves, what are the key skills an innovative mind should have? After many long discussions, we realized: No skills at all. From startups, we learned that 20-year-old innovators with no developed skills could easily come up with amazing ideas. An early reaction was that age is a key factor for innovators. Startups should be run by young people that are unbiased and can change the world. Later on, we all learned that 50-year-old Elon Musk unfolded his full potential in the mid-30s. But all highly successful innovators have a few things in common, independent of age, skills, or educational background – TALENTS.

Those top innovators are without exception highly curious, very courageous, continuous, or relentless in their execution and exceptional collaborators. While looking deeper into the fabric of the innovator’s talent we discovered eight key aspects: Curious, Courageous, Continuous, Collaborative, Creative, Communicative, Confident, and Connected. You may wonder what about PASSIONATE? We put it consciously out. Passion is not necessarily a specific talent or wiring in one’s brain – it is a result of a specific neurological trigger. Any person can be extremely passionate about something. Passion is certainly a success factor for innovators but not a talent.

The 8 Cs of innovation talent

Curious, Courageous, Continuous, Collaborative, Creative, Communicative, Confident, and Connected

Curious

We learned that new ideas are composed of past experiences. Unrelated experiences to solve a problem or create a new solution are especially valuable. People who are curious above average, obviously have more and wider spread experiences than others. Curiosity is also an essential talent when trying to learn how customers work today and what it may take to make a significant improvement.

 

 

Courageous

When radically new thoughts get created it takes a lot of courage to share them with others. It takes courage to stand your ground, despite others laughing at you. In an enterprise, it takes courage to push for a change and at the same time take the risk to get fired.

 

Continuous

Relentless execution is what makes an innovation successful. Innovation teams, therefore, need to be continuous in their work. Never give up and never surrender.

 

 

 

Collaborative

Sharing ideas, not owning them is part of a key ideation process called Idea Confluence. Working with others to simply extend the brainpower and accumulate more ideas is critical in the ideation process. Also, when ideas are realized or brought to market, the innovation team needs to be highly diverse but also collaborative in every aspect of their work.

 

 

Creative

Creativity has very many faces. In the innovation space, creativity is not only creative ideas but also creative business models, creative ways to produce things, creative ways to finance development, get to the market, and more.

 

 

 

Communicative

One of the biggest advantages of being human, compared to other biological life forms, is the ability to communicate thoughts and visions for the future. That talent is needed in every phase of innovation, every collaborative event or meeting, every ideation session, and every other collaborative engagement.

 

 

Confident

Confidence is needed in communication, motivation, investment phases, and in the interaction with the market. Confidence is derived from very well-thought-out solutions and concepts that have been explored from hundreds of different aspects. Confidence is not about convincing others but transforming a vision into a realistic model that others can adapt as well.

 

 

Connected

And finally, a strong networking ability that connects a person with relevant people but also connects others. Connection skills are especially important when unique skills are needed that are not part of the innovation team.

 

Testing Soft Skills

Unlike well-trained and adopted hard skills, it seems that testing soft skills is not so easy. However, soft skills are not so much in the foreground and therefore there is not as much experience in the market.  Here are a few tips to test a candidate for certain soft skills. Instead of having multiple-choice questions or questions that you expect either a right or a wrong answer, talents are more individual and therefore test the candidate’s personal experience.

  • Ask them how they define curiosity and what was their most impressive experience of curiosity?
  • Ask candidates if their ideas get too crazy and they risk being dismissed, what do they do?

We will publish a separate blog post just on soft skill testing and probing.

When talents meet objectives

Brilliant ideas are the very starting point of an innovation effort. Yet relentless execution makes innovative ideas and concepts a genuine innovation. Missing that duality between ideation and execution is why so many innovation projects failed. Successful innovation is the entire work from pre ideation market observation to a multi-year engagement to scale the new solution in a global market. This is what successful innovation teams need to be of diverse backgrounds and unique talents or soft skills. The above-mentioned soft skills are essential for success. Therefore testing and probing a candidate’s soft skills is a strategic task in the hiring process. Make sure you have tools and methods in place to test soft skills and give them a rating.

Where to find the best talents?

Most business managers tend to hire their innovation dream team from the outside. Reasons may include that they don’t trust their own culture, don’t know anybody who has the right profile, or fears that they are already blinded by the organization. If that is the case, it would be important to improve the internal collaboration and management style to prevent new hires from getting absorbed into the old system too quickly. Moreover, our research indicates that most enterprises with a desire to innovate have the top talents already in-house. We have seen amazing creative and ingenious people in all kinds of departments within enterprises. Attracting talents from within the organization has various advantages. You should not fear that they may already be blinded by the way things work in the company. If they have the 8 C’s as soft skills they will make a better organization and culture faster and with more intensity than newcomers.

Summary

  • Make yourself familiar with the value of the 8 C’s
  • Look inside your organization first
  • Make sure you have a very compelling offering
  • Be aware that you will deal with exceptional talents that other companies will try to hire away.
  • Don’t protect your talents, give them a dream environment
  • It takes teamwork to make a dream work

Looking for a career in the fast-growing innovation space. Take the Innovation Talent Test to see if you have the 8C’s to start your innovation career opportunity.

400 Million businesses (OECD) may look for a total of 100 Million Innovation Managers during this decade.

100 Million Innovation Managers

Of course, at first sight, it sounds ridiculous. Yet if you take the number of registered businesses around the world plus the enormous growth rate of new businesses it is relatively easy to imagine that 25% of those companies, no matter how small they are, will want at least one person that works on innovation concepts. The fortune 20,000 however, is more like hiring Millions on their own. Of course, there is room to debate the number in both directions. If we consider a 3% investment in innovation, the numbers could also move further up. Who would have thought just 10 years ago that in 2020 we will have 1.5 Billion websites live? And an estimated 100 Million webmasters are handling them.

Gameover for romantic ideation dreams

Now, since we know how the brain is actually composing, processing, and fine-tuning ideas, we can begin strategic innovation management. We know that no idea ever composed was by accident. We know that brainstorming can’t create a single disruptive business model. We know that disruptive innovation takes on average 6 weeks to create. It will not happen in a week nor will it take longer than 12 weeks. With amazing predictability comes manageability but most importantly readiness to invest. Constructing an innovative idea is no longer much different from architecting a new skyscraper. Both have a predictable outcome. All that is opening up new investments. 100 Million Innovation managers become more and more a realistic number.

Now is a good time to build up your experience.

BlueCallom launches its Innovations Management Academy with an orientation webinar on Jan 7 and Jan 18. https://bluecallom.com/certified-innovation-manager-orientation/ We will help innovators, managers, and executives to get their arms around the many counter-intuitive aspects of an innovation lifecycle. It’s already hard enough to find top talents. And that will get even harder in the next few years. Having experience will remain to be a top value in an innovation career. “How many innovation projects did you complete?” “What methods did you use?”. To compete with 100 Million others for a job is equally challenging as trying to get top talents competing with 100 Million other businesses. We interviewed shrimp farm owners in Vietnam, street dealers in Cambodia, car repair shops in Nigeria, and 50+ more businesses. The owners are on average 25, graduated from their local University, and are smart enough to understand that our world is changing very fast. The shrimp farmer considers an AI system to manage the population, the car repair shop an e-commerce system for parts sale, and the street dealer a mobile app to push their daily harvest of ultra-fresh food to sell it the same day. Each one of the innovative concepts is simple at first glance, yet powerful enough to force all their competitors to follow.

Starting January 25, the new BlueCallom Innovations Management Academy will offer four major programs:

Deep Innovation Design Champion – learning all about the methodology
Deep Innovation Design Specialist – applying the acquired knowledge in a project
Innovation Manager – learning to run a full-size innovation project
Innovation Executive – knowing what you can expect from your team

You will find all details here: https://bluecallom.com/imacad/

100 Million Innovation Managers

When applying for a job at BlueCallom, you will find the same behavior in the World Innovations Forum and our previous companies. We ignore CVs for more than 15 years now. Interestingly enough, you find the same with Facebook, Google, and many others: “Your CV is of no value” to us. And since not only applicants but also peers are asking WHY, here is a more detailed answer.

Your CV is of no value to us.

  1. People can write in their CVs what they want.
  2. Some applicants even use a professional CV writer to do it for them.
  3. Employee references can even be legally enforced to be “positive” in some countries.

When lying is not only OK but enforced by law, the value gets down to zero. It’s even worse. We no longer can help applicants why we rejected them due to  “Political correctness” or worse, lawsuits due to XYZ discrimination (replace XYZ with virtually any reason) have turned employee protection into employee disadvantage.

Your skills are not mission-critical to us.

Skills are things you can learn. And well-developed skills are all too often hard to unlearn. We are an innovative company and a thought leader in the innovation space. What we do today was unthinkable yesterday and is of less value tomorrow. At BlueCallom, you will need to be a lifelong learner. In the interest of our future development, lifelong learning of our team is essential. To make that easier, we make learning part of your job. Whatever you did in the past is clearly important and is part of your “experience collection,” which gives you the repertoire for ideas and ingenuity. But any repeat job you did in the past is of no value to us. But ONLY if you are up to par with every aspect of today’s world. Hence, your CV is of no value.

Your decade-long experience is counterproductive.

Unfortunately, if you have 10+ years of experience with anything, we cannot afford to untrain your neuro pathways. Untrain and train new things is a massive effort, and we are not yet big enough to have the resources to take care of such a process. You may call it age discrimination because you know this is a great way out of needing to change, but it won’t help you here.  And therefore, the list of all the jobs and with it your CV is of no value.

We know, in the past 200 years, all the above, very much like your educational degrees, had been essential for your career. But not for us and maybe soon for other businesses. Your education trimmed you to learn and repeat, become good at something, and then develop it to perfection. In the last 50 years, knowledge has multiplied thousands of times, and right now, global knowledge doubles every 24 hours. Learning all that “knowledge” is obviously impossible – all you can learn is where to find it.

What are we looking for if the CV is of no value?

The next two decades will bring major employee advances.

In the next 20 years, we will experience office automation progressing as much as we have seen industrial automation in the past 50 years. Today there are rarely production facilities where thousands of workers march into the plant in the morning and out in the evening. Instead, today, we see long lines of cars leaving the office in the evening and going in, in the morning. Yet this is only because organizations have been evolving that way. In fully automated offices like ours, where customers automatically get their products and pay automatically, no office workers are needed.

We are looking for creativity/ingenuity.

We train our sales force to maximize individuality in customer interaction. They need to be creative, have an amazing attitude, a broad understanding and constantly help get our offering as close as possible to our customers’ dream solution. There is nothing to automate. Our marketing teams are constantly learning about the needs and dreams in the market, new tools, and new techniques. Our marketing needs to be as unique as it can get every day. We don’t repeat campaigns. Even though our product needs to be suitable for millions of innovators worldwide, each configuration, each function, each episode in the process needs to be a perfect fit for a perfect outcome. Each of our products will be definitely unique without being custom-made, which would make it unaffordable.

Talent, attitude, openness, and passion for making it a reality are what we are looking for. Everything else, every skill, can be learned by any average human. We know you can become what you envision to become, no matter what it is. A degree, CV, or deep experience wouldn’t make a difference. Please send us an email about why you are interested in joining the company, how you will make a difference, and share your LinkedIn URL. That’s it.

If a job at BlueCallom is not your absolute dream job

More than 50% retire with a bittersweet view when looking back. Sweet because they got used to what they do and are kind of ok. Bitter because they never had a chance to fulfill their dreams. Never had a chance? You have the chance to get your dream job but most likely have never been educated on making it a reality. We had let go of people or never hired them in the first place if we recognized such a situation. And we always helped them to pursue their dreams – as we did.

Our Career Opportunities

 

How about Innovator or Innovation Design Manager or Innovation Paradigm Executive?

Find out what suits you best:

The pressure to be more innovative is big. This pressure comes from various sources at the same time. Customers want better, easier, more useful solutions. Investors want to see the company they invested in more agile and more innovative. The board simply amplifies the pressure from the market onto the executive bench. Top talents want to work in innovative companies and the competition from fast-growing and scaling young companies on top of all that. A CEO of a global enterprise cannot be the same innovator as the CEO of a startup. But the enterprises can look for innovative talents who may perform that role without taking the entrepreneurial risk of starting and driving their own business.

The Innovator

The title says it all, the person innovates. However, in our today’s complex business organizations, we need to not only think of innovative solutions for customers but also innovative solutions internally. Many marketing departments conduct their business in more or less the same way, with the same KPIs and the same methods as 25 years ago. Marketing innovation can have extremely positive effects on a companies market presence. Innovation itself is another even more dramatic challenge. How can a perfectly organized company with a top-level employee utilization craft out time for innovation? Whether for internally or externally faced innovations, the innovator is a top talent that has a wide-open mind, is a stellar listener, and amazing observer. That person has lots of experiences with which they can compose new ideas and are trained to “play” with their brain and produce groundbreaking ideas. The innovator is the person who literally produces innovation without being the expert that actually builds the product or service that will rock the market. The developing and building process remains in the engineering or other specialists’ hands. The innovator typically would report to a Deep Innovation Design Manager.

The Deep Innovation Design Manager

We all learned that the value of an idea is zero. The value of innovation grows with its distribution throughout global markets. The Deep Innovation Design Process needs managers with a 360° view of all aspects, steps, processes, stakeholders, and activities who can navigate and moderate the process with whole teams, partners, contributors, and other stakeholders. He or she is the Innovation Success Manager and would typically report to an Innovations Paradigm Executive or directly to the CEO in smaller organizations.

The Innovation Paradigm Executive

In large enterprises with different business units, countless departments and many products need an executive-level person to craft a corporate-wide innovation strategy, work with the C-Level of the company, coordinate the innovation engagements across all business units and ensure the financial engagements and capital distribution throughout the various projects, run by the Deep innovation Design Managers.

In the new world of Innovation Paradigm Models and Deep Innovation Design methods, innovation is demystified and turned into predictable and manageable activities that can be planned, budgeted, and managed. And to do so, businesses need talents to perform these new jobs.

If this should become your career path, join one of our free online events.