A common misconception is that innovation can’t be taught. Similar to how some people believe that artists are born, not made – innovation has often seemed to be the purview of the great thinkers, the elite, people whose creativity is given, not a matter of practice…

The good news is that in a recent study by the authors of the Innovator’s DNA, researchers put sets of identical and fraternal twins through creative thinking tests and discovered that only 25 percent to 40 percent of creative performance could be attributed to genetics alone, which means that the majority of creative thought can be cultivated.

But how?

Well, when it comes to teaching innovation, surprisingly the thing that people rate as the most underdeveloped in their innovation programs…

Innovation metrics. Either companies don’t have a good way of measuring innovation at all or even if they do have metrics for measuring their innovative skills, they aren’t included in the leadership’s KPIs. This is an oft-overlooked aspect of innovation programs: metrics. Teams should start with this idea more: how do we know what success looks like? How can we measure it? Having answers to those questions makes for a successful innovation initiative.

Company training. Most companies have great ideas about innovation, but they are not communicating those ideas out to their workforce. It’s a great idea to offer training in creative thinking, innovation processes like design thinking or six sigma, and training on how to develop ideas and pitch them so that they become business proposals. The good news? This is an easy problem to solve. There are lots of great partners who can offer this sort of training and scalably increase the efficacy of your workforce in innovation.

To learn more about the skills needed in innovation teams, download our infographic on the subject.

By Rob Hoehn

About the author

Rob Hoehn is the co-founder and CEO of IdeaScale: the largest open innovation software platform in the world. Hoehn launched crowdsourcing software as part of the open government initiative and IdeaScale’s robust portfolio now includes many other industry notables, such as EA Sports, NBC, NASA, Xerox and many others. Prior to IdeaScale, Hoehn was Vice President of Client Services at Survey Analytics.