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  • Writer's pictureArtemis Canada

Can You Spot an Innovator?

The success of innovative companies depends largely on an ability to identify and engage the unique individuals who can create brilliant new products and bring them to market. Companies do not innovate. People innovate.

Technology start-ups are often founded by innovators, and as these companies grow they need to round out the team. To sustain growth and survival in any quickly changing market, companies big and small need to continually attract the innovators who will keep them relevant. So the question looms, “are there tell-tale signs that will help you identify an innovator?”

I was excited to read this piece, How to Hire Innovators by New York’s Fahrenheit212, a successful innovation consulting firm, that provides some insight into how they select and hire their team.

“Money and Magic”

The Fahrenheit212 team has coined this term for an ability to marry creativity and commercial strategy. In Designers, Product Managers, Engineers, and Architects, it is the ability to not only innovate but to deliver big ideas that someone will pay for.

While it is tempting to simply choose someone who has innovated in the past, it’s not that easy. You need to find someone who can be innovative in your environment, as part of your team. But just how do you see that in a resume, or listen for it in an interview?

These tips go beyond the qualifications on a resume, and get to the qualities that define an innovator:

  • Ask about interests and hobbies, passions beyond what is on the resume.

  • Are they passionate, interested, curious? Innovators love to ask questions. They devour new information, constantly seeking insights, stimulation, and opportunities.

  • Look for travelers. Restless people take holidays in unusual places and come back to share what they’ve learned.

  • Have they lived abroad? Ex-pats are, by definition, confident risk-takers who share that ex-pat sensibility of looking to see what’s around the corner. Understanding different cultures fuels an ability to understand what people might want.

  • Are they an omnivorous eater? People who explore new foods, restaurants, and concepts are curious seekers.

  • Find constructive critics. Folks who are fascinated by and opinioned about films, architecture, fashion, hotels, and web sites are interesting and important to conceiving innovative solutions.

  • Hire readers. Look for those people who walk down the street reading. They know stuff you don’t, but should.

  • X-Factor. Be alert to the unusual quirk that catches you off guard and suggests that the box you might expect them to be in is not all it seems. A passion for acting, bagpipes prowess or being a leading expert on poodle behavior indicates commitment.

Whether you are a consulting firm looking to deliver innovative solutions to your clients, a tech start-up looking for the next break-through, or an established company looking for the sparks that will keep you competitive, unlocking the secret to hiring for innovation is critical.


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