Teague's Tech Treks

Learning Technology and other Tech Observations by Dr. Helen Teague


Its In You: The Innovators DNA

In The Innovator’s writers Jeff Dyer, Hal Gregersen, and Clayton Christensen conducted 100 interviews over eight years to assess successful behaviors from leaders at Amazon and Apple to those at Google, Skype, and Virgin Group, entrepreneurs and executives. They differentiated five behaviors among this achieving group. The writers contend that these habits can be learned and practiced by anyone with the desire to learn them. They are not inherited traits resulting from a cosmic role of the hereditary dice.

The five “discovery skills” that distinguish the most creative executives and, the authors assert, can help anyone to become more innovative are associating, questioning, observing, experimenting, and networking Moving progressively from idea to impact through 5 skills: associating, questioning, observing, experimenting, and networking.  There are many connections between The Innovator’s DNA and Tim Brown’s Change by Design. For example, the behavior of “Experimenting” in The Inventor’s DNA matches Brown’s prototyping in chapter 4.

Teague rendering of principles in Innovators DNA
I think there is overlap among these skills…What other books on innovation also reflect or reference these attributes?


The Innovator’s DNA by Jeff Dyer, Hal Gregersen, and Clayton Christensen



Solve or Navigate

Brown and Katz offer 3 criteria for successful idea generation in Change by Design (p.18).

These are:

1. Desirability
2. Viability
3. Feasibility

In a significant semantic emphasis, they write that Designers “resolve” these criteria to solve problems. In contrast, Design Thinkers “navigate among” these criteria in more of a process orientation (p.21). Further, they write that Design Thinkers shift their thinking from problem to project.

Which describes your methodology?

In Chapter 2, the Brown and Katz list 3 Elements of Successful Design:

1. Observation
2. Empathy
3. Insight

Elements of Successful Design

Created with IdeaSketch App

The Innovator’s DNA (Dyer, Gregersen, and Christensen profiled Scott Cook, founder of Intuit. Cook credits the design of his software titles Quicken and QuickBooks to his penchant for observation.

The authors summarize observation as the result of two main attributes (p. 96):

1. Watching people at work to see what they really what to accomplish
2. Watching for interchangeable solutions among different people, groups, or processes

I wonder, are these elements deserving of equal attention or does one or two nudge out the others in importance?




Brown, T., & Kātz, B. (2009). Change by design: How design thinking transforms organizations and inspires innovation. New York: Harper Business.

Dyer, J., Gregersen, H. B., & Christensen, C. M. (2011). The Innovator’s DNA: Mastering the five skills of disruptive innovators. Boston, Mass: Harvard Business Press.

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