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Skill: Innovativeness

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In some jobs it is important that you are constantly working on innovations. As a sales manager or product manager, for example, you cannot afford to sit back and leave everything at the same level. The company you work for can only stay ahead of the competition if it keeps coming up with the newest of the newest. You can play an important role in this.

When is a focus on innovation important?

Companies that operate at the forefront - that is, companies that see it as their role to be the first to come up with something new - cannot do without innovative talent in their organization.

People with innovative talent are capable of:

- forward thinking and opportunities to see
- to think that people in the future need to will
- to think outside the box
- successfully transfer ideas for something new so that they become reality.

In what kind of companies is there a need for innovative people?

They are often young, fast companies where a focus on innovation is important. They were established to put something new on the market and do their best to repeat this process more often. They often take considerable risks in trying to make their idea a success.

But make no mistake: large, established organizations, too, must be innovative from time to time to ensure that they don't end up in a downward spiral and can no longer enter the market. Often large companies like this have a separate 'testing ground' to give new ideas a chance.

In addition, there are organizations that by their very nature are always concerned with innovation because they are focused on the future and new developments. These are not necessarily always very fast organizations. Examples are scientific institutions, think tanks and research agencies of political or social organizations.

The company itself: chance or failure factor?

Having innovative people in an organization is not enough to ensure that innovative ideas are actually realized. The organization itself must also meet a number of conditions. Nothing is so bad for creative and innovative minds as a syrupy organization that wants to keep everything the same. The following aspects are important in the organization:

- Being able to decide quickly. If an idea comes up for a new product or service, it doesn't have to take years before it comes on the market. The competitor is probably earlier. The organization must be able to quickly decide whether or not to implement a new idea.
- Short lines. Short lines of communication are needed for quick decisions in the organization. If six departments first have to be consulted for a new idea and allowed to have their say about it, then too much precious time passes.
- Being able to gain support. New ideas can only succeed if there is support, both within and outside the organization. The more people who can agree with the idea from the outset, the greater the chances of success.
- Have a testing ground or experimental environment. New ideas entail risks for existing products. An environment in which experiments can be carried out without existing products being compromised can help to minimize the risks. Sometimes something can fail in a test garden.
- Being open to young talent. Young people often have an open mind and easily come up with new ideas. It is important that the organization is open to this. An attitude of 'we have already done everything once, the idea is not really new' or 'the way we have it now works best' is deadly for innovation.

If you yourself are an innovative spirit and you want to use that competence in your work, then it is important to take a good look at your orientation and your applications to see whether the organizational culture offers enough room for innovation. View examples of innovations at the company that interests you and ask how the process to make them work went smoothly.

How do you become innovative?

Whether you are innovative mainly depends on your attitude:

- Your eyes are constantly focused .
- Your attention is focused on the future .
- You don't keep your ideas in front of you, but share them with others. In this way ideas develop further.
- You are energetic. You need energy to convince people and to remove resistance. A portion of organizational sensitivity is also important.

You can develop innovation orientation:

- Learn to see market opportunities. Consider what people will need in the future. Use SWOT analyzes to identify opportunities and threats. The trick is to turn threats into opportunities.
- Be creative and inventive. Remember that basically anything is possible. Don't let yourself be limited by the reality of everyday life.
- Have courage and perseverance. Many people are not that willing to change, so your ideas often encounter resistance. Create support for your ideas by involving people at an early stage in your ideas.
- Work together. Make sure you are not calling in the desert. You need others to realize your ideas. Make an effort to convince them of your plans. But take feedback seriously. Your plans will only get better.
- Keep developing yourself. By keeping abreast of what's going on in your field and in the world, you ensure that you can continue to work at the forefront.

It depends to some extent on your personality whether you really are an innovator in heart and soul. People who are introverted, seeking security will often be less innovative in nature than extrovert, action-oriented types. You need the necessary self-knowledge to know whether you can really 'go' for innovations, also in the longer term.

In which professions does innovation need to be focused?

Specially in very commercial environments it is important that you are innovative, specially if you hold a commercial position yourself, for example if:

- sales manager
- product manager
- technical account manager

Organizations that deal with the future as a subject need innovative people in functions such as:

- policy officer
- researcher
- designer

Finally, companies that focus on marketing and advertising cannot do without innovative talent. For example, they need people with the function of:

- creator of commercials
- copywriter
- marketer
- director
- designer

Of course there are many other professions where your innovative powers can come in handy. Every change in an organization requires innovation-oriented people, and that even applies to very boring, conservative organizations. Maybe as an innovative project manager you can work wonders at a dusty archive service that wants to set up a futuristic multimedia archive.

How do you show that you are innovative when applying for a job?

If a job vacancy text states that you have to be innovative, then the trick is to show that you are in your cover letter and the job interview. You do this by giving concrete examples of previous projects and plans in which you were involved. Use the STAR method for this.

For example, if you are a sales manager at a telecom company, tell how you have ensured that the special mobile phone has become a success for the elderly. What did you do to get the idea to land with the rest of the organization? How did you know there was a need for that cell phone? Which resistances did you have to overcome and how did you tackle that?

You can answer these same questions if you are a director, or copywriter, and looking for a new job at an innovative and progressive advertising agency.

The best proof for innovation talent is naturally the focus pull with all original application!

Examples of questions about innovation during the job interview:

- Give an example of an innovation that resulted from your initiative. How did you convince others that your innovation was good?
- What do you see for our organization for opportunities for new products or services?

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