5 Personal and Organizational Traits that Prevent Innovative Thinking

Posted by InnoCentive on Jun 19, 2018 10:07:52 AM


Innovation requires a certain mindset, one that is open to new ideas from people you don’t know and can't imagine might have the Solution you need. When mixed with creativity, an appreciation for diverse perspectives and intellectual humility, this mindset is a formula for success. Many people know that curiosity, vision, determination and a few other traits create a successful mindset for innovation.  There are however a few personality traits that, if left unchecked, can stifle innovation and solutions you need. What’s worse is that these are traits many people don’t even know they have, nor that these traits are potentially preventing innovation success. It’s to critical to identify these antibodies to innovation as the first step towards cultivating a more innovative mindset, culture and diverse solutions.

These are five identifiable personality traits that routinely inhibit real innovative thinking.

#1: Agreeableness - Go along to get along

Agreeable people are generally pleasant to be around, nice to work with and easy to get along with. This sounds like a great employee to have on a team, and this may be the case, but agreeable people are not the best innovators.

Agreeableness is inhibitive to innovative thinking primarily because it lends itself to accepting the answer that is presented to you, rather than looking for a better solution. Disagreements, when presented respectfully, can be one of the most productive forms of finding solutions because it allows for the entry of new thoughts and approaches to solving a problem. A team full of agreeable people will simply follow the strongest personality, resulting in a single idea or approach running the show, while a team of disagreeable people will have a healthy debate about the best way to approach a problem.

#2: Methodical - We’ve always done it this way

Methodical people may be highly productive, but this personality trait prevents new ideas from entering the equation. Consider this: a machine is methodical because it can replicate a certain process with efficiency. This makes machines highly useful in a manufacturing setting. But a machine cannot paint an original painting on its own. It cannot create because it does not possess innovative or original thoughts and critical thinking that prepared human minds can.

In order for a person to innovate, they must break from the normal methodical characteristics that dictate their actions. To find new ways of doing things, they must improve upon old habits, no matter how productive they may have been for years or decades.

#3: Closed Mindedness - Not Invented Here and only people like me can solve this

People who are skeptical and suspicious of new ideas are doomed to a life of narrow-minded thinking. This “set-in-your ways” lifestyle is inherently detrimental to innovation. Innovation requires a bit of faith and vision. When theories are created, researchers are acting on faith that they will work and, through rigorous testing, they are able to either prove or disprove them. But it takes a bit of open-mindedness and vision, without constraints of “we’ve always done it this way,” for a theory to be created in the first place. Without the ability to open your mind to new ideas, new people unlike you and new ways of thinking, there is no place for new ideas.

#4: Predictability - It’s always been safe in the past

Predictable people are valuable and will have new ideas, but those ideas are rarely considered disruptive or innovative. This is because predictable ideas often lack creativity and diversity of perspectives. They often are the obvious solution to the problem has been predictable over time. While obvious answers could be the solution to the problem you face, they often aren’t the most efficient or groundbreaking without diverse perspectives to challenge predictability.

If you are trying to find the best way to traverse between two points, the predictable answer would be to draw a straight line between them. While this may seem like the best route to take because it is simple and predictable, it is ignoring the other obstacles that may be between the two points. These variables must be taken into account when finding the best solution to the problem. The unpredictable person will try any number of other pathways between the two points, often arriving a better solution than the obvious predictable answer.

#5: Risk Avoidance - Reservations

Having reservations will limit your risks, but the greatest rewards often require a certain amount of risk in order to be obtained. Innovation is achieved by taking risks, not by playing it safe. Charting unknown territory may be risky, but it is the only way to find new ideas, places, things, etc. Only those who are brave enough to take these risks will truely innovate, they will discover, and these critical thinkers will find new solutions to any problem with fewer reservations.

Break from your daily habits, be unpredictable, and open your mind to what open innovation can do for you. Contact InnoCentive to learn more about challenge-driven innovation today.

Topics: Innovation Insights, Solvers, Seekers

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