9 Traits of Highly Innovative People

Team of business people collaborate holding up jigsaw puzzle pie

I’m a big believer in people playing to their strengths, and this includes product team members and others involved in innovation. Not everyone has the same strengths – if we did, that would be a bit boring. Realizing how people approach innovation and their strengths is something Tamara Kleinberg accomplishes. She created a tool, the Innovation Quotient Edge, for identifying your innovation strength, which is why I interviewed her to learn more.

Tamara is known for her ability to innovate from ideation to implementation and has brought to market products for very large brands. For the past 18 years, she has advised companies such as Disney, Procter & Gamble, General Mills and Otterbox on fostering innovative ideas and people.

From the discussion with Tamara, she shared nine traits of innovators and how to identify the trait(s) that is your strength. The traits are:

  1. Collaborative
  2. Experiential
  3. Futuristic
  4. Fluid
  5. Imaginative
  6. Inquisitive
  7. Instinctual
  8. Risk Taker
  9. Tweaker

Also, you will learn the two most important things to say after you present a new idea.

Below is a summary of questions discussed followed by a link to the interview.

How did the Innovation Quotient Edge come into existence?

The Innovation Quotient Edge (IQE) is the culmination of 20+ years of work and experience. I started my career in brand strategy and innovation in New York City in a big firm and in advertising on Madison Avenue. Then I branched off, with most of my work being in new product development for Fortune 500 consumer goods companies—Procter and Gamble, General Mills, Clorox, etc. Time and again I would hand innovative ideas to these brilliant people in these great companies. Yet a lot of them wouldn’t make it to market. Their ability to be innovative and drive change they needed to get the results was suffering. So I stepped back and thought about what was occurring. I always believed that if we did one or two things, we’d all be innovative. But in my work and research, what I actually discovered blew my assumptions out the door, about how innovation works. What I discovered is that we’re all innovative, but how we innovate is unique to each of us. In fact, there are nine human triggers of innovation and the combination of your top two triggers make your unique innovator profile.


What are the nine innovation traits?

The image below provides a good summary of the nine traits. Listen to the interview to hear details about each.


9 Innovation Triggers of The Innovation Quotient Edge

What questions should you ask after presenting an idea?

When we present ideas we often force people into a yes or no vote to assess the ideas. We share the idea and ask “What do you think?” Most people hate ideas that are new. We are programmed to poke holes in them. Instead, when presenting a new idea, follow-up with two questions:

  • “What would you do to strengthen this idea?” and then
  • “What holes do you see and how would you fill them?”


ListenListen to the interview with Tamara on the Everyday Innovator Podcast.



image credit: depositphotos.com
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Chad McAllisterChad McAllister, Ph.D. is a product innovation guide, innovation management educator, and recovering engineer. He leads Product Innovation Educators, which trains product managers to create products customers love. He also hosts The Everyday Innovator weekly podcast, sharing knowledge from innovation thought leaders and practitioners. Follow @ChadMcAllister

Chad McAllister




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