Guiding Innovators

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How to identify an Innovator

How to identify an Innovator

There was a time when the thought of a flying machine that could shoot films from the air was a crazy idea. Today a drone is a flying machine that can easily shoot films and is small enough to fit in a sports bag! What’s my point? These machines were invented by people.  People with ideas, people with courage, with approaches to answering questions that others were concerned with. Or people who asked questions differently so that others could answer them. Innovators.

One characteristic that unites great innovators and successful entrepreneurs is that they see room for improvement, new solutions and potential that others don’t see. Or don’t see yet. Intelligent innovators listen carefully to understand what others are thinking about. They create something new and unique that other people feel that they need to solve their problems with.


Innovators versus founders – what are the differences? Are there any differences at all?

An innovator is a person who creates a new idea, product, service, process or model. In contrast, a founder turns an innovative idea into business opportunities.

Founders bring leadership, management, and planning skills. On the other hand, innovators need creative thinking and expertise in experimentation. Founders are known as risk takers, innovators arer often risk averse. Once an innovation has reached the stage of market introduction, the innovator’s interest dwindles and they move on to develop a new idea or product. From then on, founders bear the costs and strive to make the innovation successful.

In a nutshell: Innovators develop a solution from a novel idea, then founders develop it into a marketable innovation.


Do you believe that innovators can also be founders? We do! They can be, but they don’t necessarily have to be. Learn more about the characteristics of an innovator:


Thinking differently

Many people see a wealth of ideas, but can’t fully grasp them. For example: “The future lies in personalized medicine” or “there is so much potential in e-mobility”. Innovators focus on a single idea and relate it to others. Innovators don’t look for a single correct answer, but for possibilities beyond the status quo. Let’s take a well-known example: Elon Musk. While the world talks about electric cars as the individual transport of the future, the co-founder of Tesla Motors, PayPal and SpaceX has been convinced for a long time that space travel is the next step for all mankind.


Fulfilling a task in different ways

To be successful in an innovative scenario is to be creative and to approach things differently, to do them in a new way — that’s what distinguishes an innovator. Intelligent leaders use this strategy and encourage their employees to explore new techniques and approaches. This adds value to the organization and brings the strength and confidence to master challenging situations.


Innovators as leaders

Having an innovator in the company is an advantage. Having an innovator as a manager can be a bigger advantage. Starting with the process of hiring new employees who are selected according to how much passion they bring to their job, up to team development. Innovators often offer their team more freedom to explore new paths. An atmosphere of appreciation and respect is encouraged.


Insatiable curiosity

Successful innovators don’t create links between thoughts, ideas and solutions “out of thin air”. They are driven by curiosity and always ask themselves seemingly simple questions: What would be the result if I put these two things together? How could I get from A to B more easily?

Clever innovators have the iron will to implement projects and achieve positive results. They check everything they encounter for the first time and often ignore the preconceived ideas of others about how the world works.


Seek and accept help

Clever innovators know that groundbreaking solutions are not possible without the help of others. In the current world of digital innovation, building an active network of experienced individuals, assets and organizations is a great benefit for the realization of an idea. After identifying the weaknesses and threats of an idea, the great innovator collaborates with others because collaboration fosters innovation.


Add Diversity

Innovators know – whether as a team leader or even as a company founder – that promoting and living diversity in the company is the key to successful business management. They know that it’s an enormous advantage to have a variety of ideas from people with different backgrounds and different expertise.


Innovation is constant

Innovators know that innovation is not something that happens just once. It must happen continuously. The company will only achieve its goal if the organization doesn’t stop growing beyond itself over and over again, always going one step further. The persistent search for new solutions and identifying business ideas can make an essential long-term contribution to organic growth.


Overturning traditional business practices

A striking habit of innovators is that they care very little about traditional business norms and metrics. They know that sticking to old habits and traditional measurement parameters doesn’t lead to a business breakthrough.


Do not take shortcuts

So, who deserves the title of innovator? A person who is not afraid to choose and tackle even the most complex solution. The innovator does not need to take shortcuts, but approaches problems with great attention and care. But if a sensible shortcut is found, all the better.


Have numerous ideas

Innovators have an endless pool of new ideas, and they’re always flipping through these new solutions for the future. Being innovative is not a closed task like an “innovation workshop”. It is a never-ending process with different factors acting on the person or team constantly. In order to lead the innovation process in the company and to have it “under control”, great leadership is required. That’s why it can make sense to have an innovator as a close advisor to the managing director.



Innovators don’t run away from challenges.  They face them with a brave heart. Writer Margaret Mitchell’s book, Gone with the Wind, was rejected 38 times before it was published, and Stephen King’s Carrie was rejected 30 times. The rest is film history that we all know.


Respect for other innovators

It would be too easy to follow your own ideas and lose other sources of ideas along the way. A strong innovator should respect other people who help to realize an idea.


Now WE are curious

Now that we have given you a brief insight into the personality of an innovator, have you thought of one while reading this? Maybe it’s someone from your company that you have not thought of before. Or even yourself? The interdisciplinary team of experts at Guiding Innovators will help you unleash the potential for innovation. We turn innovators into founders. We support you in translating your idea into a business opportunity. An innovative idea can become an organically growing company. We guide innovators to success.

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