An Innovation Agent's 9 Essential Skills

Posted by Scott Underwood on 9/25/14 9:00 AM

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The capacity to innovate comprises a set of skills that are learned, and earned, through rigorous practice and expert mentoring. Skilled individuals — we call them Innovation Agents — use their new knowledge to instigate a revolution. Below is an excerpt from our booklet Building Agents of Innovation, that discusses their essential skills.


innovation skills

Innovation Agents spread the word that something new is happening. They bring a new perspective, different thinking, and new ways of doing.

No less important, they introduce ongoing reflection and learning into the work process, finding optimal ways for integrating design thinking into your organizational culture. Their presence inspires others to learn, change habits, and discover new ways to be creative.

What Innovation Agents learn

  1. How to define the design challenge

  2. How to learn from people, through empathy and insight

  3. How to ask the right research questions

  4. How to use synthesis to identify opportunities for innovation

  5. How to brainstorm and ideate in collaboration

  6. How to prototype, test, and iterate

  7. How to build stories and scenarios of use

  8. How to communicate useful, usable, and delightful ideas 

  9. How to reflect, learn, and improve the process

Through a learning program that includes active practicing and mentoring, Innovation Agents learn to integrate the design thinking approach into existing work processes, and to adapt the process to fit organizational culture and business innovation goals. 

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Topics: Leadership & Organization, Innovation Capacity