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The Five Characteristics of Successful Innovators

There is not much agreement about what makes an idea innovative, and what makes an innovative idea valuable. For example, discussions on whether the internet is a better invention than the wheel are more likely to reveal personal preferences than logical argumentation. Likewise, experts disagree on the type and level of innovation that is most beneficial for organizations. Somestudiessuggest that radical innovation (which does sound sexy) confers sustainable competitive advantages, butothersshow that “mild” innovation – think iPhone 5 rather than the original iPhone – is generally more effective, not least because it reduces market uncertainty. There is also inconclusive evidence on whether we should pay attention to consumers’ views, with somestudiesshowing that a customer focus is detrimental for innovation because it equates to playing catch-up, butothersarguing for it. Even Henry Ford’s famous quote on the subject – “if I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said fast…

Five Signs You're Too Smart For Your Job

Human beings are creatures of habit. We can fall into ruts very easily.

One of the easiest ruts to fall into is to stay in a job too long, way past the point where the job holds any new challenges or learning experiences.

We can see why people stay in their jobs too long. It’s a pain in the neck to change jobs for one thing, and we also wonder “If I take a new job, is it going to be a move out of the frying pan and into the fire?”

The problem with that thinking is that we forget one vital point. The process of looking for a new job and getting it is an important learning experience in itself. Staying put in a job that requires nothing of you intellectually or creatively is not a disservice to your employer (as long as you’re doing your work) but it is a disservice to you.

You deserve a lot more from a job than just a paycheck and a place to go during the day. You deserve to have meaty problems to solve and smart people around you to collaborate with. You deserve something fun and creative to do every day at work.

If you’re not getting those things, you’re not standing still — you’re slipping backwards, because time keeps marching on.
Here are five signs you’re too smart for your job.

You Can’t Remember the Last Time Your Brain Got a Workout
If you try unsuccessfully to remember the last time you got to wrap your brain around a thorny problem at work and solve it, you’re working in the wrong place. The right job gives you a steady stream of mental puzzles to solve.

If you’ve tried to innovate and problem-solve at work and you’ve been stomped on for your efforts, why stick around and keep dimming your flame?

You See No One Around To Learn From
Tennis players and chess players know that you have to play with better players than yourself to advance. If your workplace doesn’t offer you collaboration opportunities with people you can learn from, why are you there? Your next assignment may be to take what you’ve learned at your current job upstream to a place where you can keep your mental edge sharp!
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You’re Tired of Trying to Sell Good Ideas
It’s frustrating to see ways that your company can improve and innovate, suggest improvements and be shot down time after time. It’s very odd that companies hire smart people and then ignore the ideas those smart people come up with, but it’s a problem everywhere you look.

If you’re sick and tired of trying to sell your ideas upstream, maybe you’re casting your pearls before swine. After all, you  need not only the affirmation that the implementation of your ideas would give you, but also the resume fodder that their deployment would create. If the people you work for can’t see the talents you bring, then those talents are going to waste.

You Can Feel Your IQ Dropping
Some jobs are so routine that they become mind-numbing after time. It happened to our client Fred. He said “I got a call from a vendor who was in a jaunty mood and wanted to chat.
“The vendor told me a joke and I didn’t get it. He had to explain it to me. I told my vendor ‘This job is literally making me stupid.’ The vendor said ‘I can see that. You should get your resume out on the street.’”

Sometimes we all need a nudge from the outside world to tell us “Move on — you’ve sucked all the juice out of that job that the job had to give!”

You’ve Given Up Explaining Your Ideas
When you get to an advanced state of wasting your brain cells in a job you could do in your sleep, something terrible happens. You stop trying to explain your good ideas to the people you work with, because they wouldn’t understand them and they also don’t care.

You’ve heard “But this is the way we’ve always done it!” so many times you can’t stand to hear it anymore, and you give up.

Mother Nature has a message for you, and the message is “Sweetheart, you’re wasting your talent!” The job market is getting better all the time. You can shake off the cobwebs and find a job that deserves your talent instead of one that sucks your mental and emotional energy away until you go home a dry husk every day.

You can launch a stealth job search and be out of there and into a new environment with new things to learn and people who are intellectually curious just a few months from now. You’ve got nothing to lose — why not take a step on your path and see where it takes you?