It has been said that we are entering the decade of the female entrepreneur with one in ten women now wanting to start their own business.
Yet, we all know that having an idea is often the easy part, in fact, those that are good at having new ideas can effortlessly generate thirty or forty before breakfast. The harder part is how do we move from idea land into creating something that has a tangible and sustainable value and outcome?
From my research, I have found that there are six types of innovators, all critical to the success of generating ideas and practically making them work. What I call the 6 ‘I’s® of Innovation. These 6 ‘I’s® are both a process, albeit a circular one, that help to give a framework for the journey that an idea takes, and a set of distinct skills. Whilst people have an innovation style – or a mixture and combination of capabilities – one or two of the 6 ‘I’s® are likely to be more dominant.
So what kind of innovator are you?
- IDENTIFIER – are you CURIOUS and good at understanding trends and potential areas of growth? Can you spot where a new opportunity might be emerging to do something new?
- IGNITER – are you CREATIVE and good at generating ideas and novel solutions? Even better can you generate ideas that will address an opportunity, or solve a problem or challenge?
- INVESTIGATOR – are you good at being CRITICAL, standing back and appraising whether an idea might work? Are you good at prototyping, testing and researching ideas with potential customers and stakeholders and able to shape an idea into a valuable proposition?
- INVESTOR – are you COURAGEOUS and able to persuade others to back ideas? Can you raise funds, gather the right resources and develop business models that will work?
- IMPLEMENTER – are you resilient and COMMITTED and good at making ideas happen? Can you build teams, create partnerships and manage associated risks?
- IMPROVER – are you CLEVER and good at optimising and scaling ideas into other areas of opportunity? Can you see where something can be done better or differently?
The starting point is to know your innovation strengths. Are you an IGNITER or IMPLEMENTER, or an IMPROVER or INVESTOR and how can you use your skills to create value out of new ideas? Understanding this will help you to realise that innovating requires not only great ideas, but access to a diverse set of skills that can be harnessed towards achieving a common PURPOSE. Why are you doing what you are doing and what do you hope to achieve? Secondly, what are the gaps, between what is important to you in achieving success with the idea you are working on and you your current set of capabilities? Thirdly, do you personally need to develop these skills, or are there people or organisations that you can collaborate with to help address the gaps?
Whilst one in ten women want to start a business, we also know that that only one in ten new businesses survive. It is hard work. Broadening out the concept of what it means to be innovative is important as it will liberate you to play to your strengths whilst being fully aware of what else you need to do to improve your likelihood of success. The IGNITER, with a CREATIVE mindset – the profile that we often consider as the innovative one – is just one of six profiles needed to make innovation happen. It takes diversity of skills, background and experience to make it work.
Published in We Are the City on May 23, 2018.