What It Takes to Be a Serial Innovator INSIDE established companies | Innovation & Institutions, Will it Blend? | Scoop.it

"Researchers discuss the characteristics of people who successfully develop significant innovations in established companies."

Why serial innovators are fairly rare:  The low percentage make sense as the qualities needed are difficult to nourish in many corporate cultures.


Serial innovators, whom the authors define as people who develop and bring to market at least two successful breakthrough products in an established company, are not all that common.

Griffin, Price and Vojak estimate that they represent anywhere from one in 50 members of an R&D and engineering staff at a smaller organization to one in 200 at a larger organization — and perhaps as few as one in 500 at most Fortune 200 companies.


   ...willingness and ability to “cross the bridge,” ...taking on the organizational politics required to convince others ...of the value of their innovation


Typical characteristics of serial innovators:


  • a track record of technical excellence (which helps them gain freedom to innovate within their organizations) and 
  • a strong focus on solving important problems for customers (which helps them choose commercially relevant problems to tackle). 
  • They also have a willingness and ability to “cross the bridge,” as the authors put it, from merely inventing a good solution to taking on the organizational politics required to convince others in the company of the value of their innovation. 


  • curiosity and 
  • systems thinking => integrate disparate data and information, creatively connect the dots in logical and powerful ways.