Summary of “The Innovator’s DNA”
The article is titled “The Innovator’s DNA” because it draws its conclusions from a study of successful innovators and establishes the issues that make them different from other people. The study conducted over a period of six years entailed examining innovative entrepreneurs such as Apple’s Steve Jobs, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, eBay’s Pierre Omidyar, Skype’s Niklas Zenntrom among many others. The examination was aimed at establishing the unique traits “DNA” that are common in all these phenomenal entrepreneurs.
The study found out that successful innovative entrepreneurs employ five discovery skills in their quest to create business empires. These skills are associating, questioning, observing, experimenting and networking.
The first skill is associating. Associating is said to be the “backbone structure” of the Innovators’ DNA. It is the “structure” upon which the other four skills are founded. Association entails “the ability to successfully connect seemingly unrelated questions, ideas and problems from different fields” (Dyer, Gregersen & Christensen, 2009). Association is vital in helping innovators identify needs and potentials a case exemplified by eBay’s Pierre Omidyar.
The second skill is questioning. In this case all successful innovator entrepreneurs constantly “ask questions that challenge common wisdom” (Dyer, Gregersen & Christensen, 2009). This helps the innovators such as Marc Benioff who founded salesforce.com to identify all the loopholes and ways to prepare adequately.
The third skill found in successful entrepreneurs is observing. In this case the innovators scrutinize common phenomena and particularly the behaviors of potential customers. As such they are able to come up with innovations that respond to humanitarian needs. Intuit founder Scott Cook is mentioned as having used this skill perfectly when he founded his company.
The fourth skill discussed in the article is experimenting. In this case innovator entrepreneurs behave like scientists where they “actively try out new ideas by creating prototypes and launching pilots” (Dyer, Gregersen & Christensen, 2009). These innovators provoke unorthodox responses to see what could happen. Apple’s Steve Jobs and Starbuck’s Howard Shultz are mentioned as having experimented greatly before they got their breakthrough.
The fifth skill important to innovator entrepreneurs is networking. In this case, all successful innovator entrepreneurs devote time and energy to find and test ideas through a network of diverse individuals.
Once innovator entrepreneurs have acquired these skills they master them over the years by rehearsing over these five behaviors to the point of these skills becoming automatic.
Dyer, J. H., Gregersen, B & Christensen C. M (2009). The Innovators DNA. Harvard Business Review. Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation.