009: Innovation • Skill & Habit

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Innovation • Skill & Habit

Developing your innovation skill and making it a habit is critical to your success.

Are you an innovator?  Are you frustrated by others who should be innovative but they rarely think or act that way?

A well-known innovator of our time is Steve Jobs, but innovation is not restricted to CEOs.  It is important at work and useful in daily life as we grow and adapt to change.  Individuals and managers need to break from traditional ways of thinking and create and nurture an environment of innovation.

What is Innovation?

Simply, an innovation is a new idea, method, or device. As a process, it can be described as bringing any new, problem-solving idea into use. Innovation is often viewed as the application of better solutions that meet new requirements, unarticulated needs, or existing market need.  Pulling together multiple innovation experts, Idea to Value developed the following definition: "Executing an idea which addresses a specific challenge and achieves value for both the company and customer."

I have been blessed to work for companies who support innovation through training and practice. When participating in a course many years ago one of the examples of innovation that stood out to me was how to solve the problem of transporting and storing watermelons.  The innovation was to grow the watermelons in boxes so they were square and did not move around.

I also participated in and won a Hackathon hosted by Yale University, Yale New Haven Health and MIT. A Hackathon is a structured multi-day process to address a specific problem with a diverse team leading to a creation of a prototype and pitch of the idea to investors.

I have a few favorite books on innovation. The first is The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs by Carmine Gallo.

"Innovation- the ability to see change as an opportunity - not a threat"

- Steve Jobs

7 Innovative Principles:

  1. Do What You Love.
    Think differently about your career.
  2. Put a Dent in the Universe.
    Think differently about your vision.
  3. Kick Start Your Brain.
    Think differently about how you think.
  4. Sell Dreams, Not Products.
    Think differently about your customers.
  5. Say No to 1,000 Things.
    Think differently about design.
  6. Create Insanely Great Experiences.
    Think differently about your brand experience.
  7. Master the Message.
    Think differently about your story.

Innovation vs Disruptive Innovation

The other book on this subject that is related to healthcare is called the Innovator's Prescription: A Disruptive Solution for Healthcare by Clayton Christensen.  Clayton coined the phrase disruptive innovation as an "innovation that creates a new market and value network and eventually disrupts an existing market and value network, displacing established market-leading firms, products, and alliances".

Types of Innovation:


An innovation that does not significantly affect existing markets. It may be either:


An innovation that is an expected improvement of a product in an existing market (e.g., fuel injection for gasoline engines, which displaced carburetors)


An innovation that is unexpected, but does not affect existing markets (e.g., the first automobiles were too expensive and very few were sold)


An innovation that creates a new market by providing a different set of values, which ultimately and unexpectedly overtakes an existing market (e.g., the lower-priced, affordable Ford Model T which displaced horse-drawn carriages). In healthcare, the Electronic Health record is definitely a disruptive innovation.

Innovation can also be adopting new ideas faster. How long does a new idea take to be implemented broadly? In healthcare this can be called the Evidence-Practice Gap.  Evidence suggests that it sometimes takes more than a decade to implement research results in clinical practice.  The adoption of the Electronic Health record was sped up through American Recovery and Reinvestment Act which included an incentive.


Developing Innovation Skills

Build your knowledge and skills by reading on innovation from experts.  Some supportive skills that are also beneficial include persuasion, people management, and change management skills. There are useful tools and methods that support innovative processes.  Some of these tools include Design Thinking, Creative Problem Solving, Lean, Agile, and The Innovation Cube™.  See the Innovation Do's & Don'ts in this week's bonus blog download for a checklist.

Putting Innovation Into Practice - Making it a Habit

Making innovation a habit is no different than making other habits such as brushing our teeth or practicing self-reflection. Following a process for innovative thinking and resulting behaviors will lead to a habit.  Habit forming comes from incorporation of key triggers, conditions, and words into your daily routine daily.

Tips for Innovation Habit:

  1. Constantly Connect the Dots
  2. Commit to Asking Questions
  3. Actively Try New Things
  4. Find Points of Intersection with Others
  5. Have a Sense of Purpose
  6. Cross-Pollinate Ideas
  7. Make Innovation a Daily Routine


While many companies may believe they are committed to innovation but do not invest in the time, people or money to support innovation.  To support incorporation of innovation into our culture, we added innovation to our department commitment statement and it is part of our values.

“Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice,” Jobs once said. “And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.”  I love this quote and it reminds me of why I chose my word of the year as BOLD.

So much of this relates to your mindset and having an intrapreneurial and entrepreneurial spirit. Join the blog next week when I discuss Mindset - The Right Attitude.  If you are interested in more growth in innovation, I recommend you join my course Pharmovation.

Join the ongoing conversation at and subscribe to my email list so we can connect regularly and you will receive content I don't share anywhere else.

In this week's blog post at, you will also be able to access the Bonus Blog Download - Innovation Mistakes •  The Do's and Don'ts Checklist.

Now it's your turn:

Identify how you will develop your innovation skill and make it a habit! Share the what action you will take in the comments section at 

Be bold, be a connector, and excel your life.  Invest in your career development!

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