How to Improve Innovation Skills and Competency [Guide]12 min read

Improve innovation skills

The workplace is changing…

Nowadays, having strong innovation skills is essential to thrive in a technology-driven world. As many jobs have the potential to be automated, people have to find out how they can add value to organizations and learn the necessary mindset and tools to utilize.

In this article, we discuss the different types of innovation skills and how to learn them. 

Let’s get started.

Why are innovation skills important?

Innovation skills are the capabilities that individuals must possess to provide significant value to the company’s innovation performance. These skills are imperative in creating and refining an organization’s products, capabilities, processes, and strategies.

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Innovation skills crucially impact a person’s way of approaching and completing tasks. People with this set of skills want to achieve progress, especially in terms of developing new ideas, solving problems, and discovering new opportunities.

Fundamental Innovation Skills

Learning innovation skills and polishing competency is necessary for teams to do before implementing changes and approaching difficult situations encountered by the business.

In essence, employees must have the skills required to deliver outputs that foster and maintain an organization’s sustainability. Such abilities are incumbent for a company to effectively pursue its innovation activities.

Some of these skills include:

  1. Discovery skills
  2. Communication skills
  3. Ideation skills
  4. Selection skills
  5. Implementation-related skills

1. Discovery Skills

Discovery skills involve finding out facts and obtaining information of utmost worth and importance to the company.

These skills include:


Research involves collecting, documenting, analyzing, and interpreting data about a certain subject.

Businesses allocate funds for research as it is conducted for the purposes of obtaining knowledge or for assessing the plausibility and effectiveness of plans, methods, strategies, activities, and hypotheses.

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The principal goals and execution roadmap of innovations are established through a meticulous formation of strategies and deliberate research. Innovators use the findings obtained to come up with the best innovation strategies.

An effective researcher also discovers problems, factors, and solutions, as well as the trends, possibilities, and opportunities that companies may potentially venture into in the future.


The ability to frame useful, fact-gathering, and relevant questions is essential in acquiring valuable information.

The absence of this skill leads to a series of negative outcomes including:

  • Ineffective customer service
  • Lack of knowledge and growth
  • Unproductive collaboration between teams
  • Failure to establish a connection with your audience
  • Incomplete tasks due to unclear and misunderstood instructions

Moreover, questioning is inherent in establishing successful communication. In order for others to be engaged in a conversation, one must be able to create logical and relatable questions.


Observation plays a significant part in business.

Exceptional observation skills may sound simple to some, but it has contributed largely to the success and survival of various companies. Monitoring your competitors, as well as their products and services, is essential in leading or leveling the competition.

You can also implement significant changes from the things observed in and out of the workplace — including the effectiveness of the organization’s recent processes, regulations, and activities.

Furthermore, a profitable idea does not necessarily have to be somebody’s brainchild. With observation in place, ideas can come from conditions that are already existing in the market. A little tweak here and there and you can make the idea your “own”.


Experimenting is a part of learning and growing as a business. Companies test the products, campaigns, and strategies on a small scale to predict outcomes before even launching them into the market.

This method enables companies to figure out and understand what to stop, continue, or change. In innovation, consider this process to be a part of research and development.

Innovation Maturity Level 3: Managed

Experimenting is expensive. It requires funds — and a portion of the company’s resources will be allocated to this — which is why innovators must perform well to ensure that the money used is worth it.

The findings have to be useful and significant to the organization’s success. Projects must achieve a go or no-go based on the results of the experiment conducted.

2. Communication Skills (Networking)

In business, networking is the ability to create mutually beneficial relationships with other organizations, clients, suppliers, and other entities with business experiences that can significantly contribute to the growth of the company.

Building and maintaining professional relationships with other companies gives organizations access to a roster of expertise. Once you’ve established a network, it would be best if you can also provide something of value to them in exchange for their contribution.

3. Ideation Skills

Innovation is impossible without ideas. That is why the ability to come up with lots of them, especially when confronted with challenges and possibilities, is considered a skill.

Basically, ideation involves creating, developing, and collecting new ideas or solutions as a response to actual problems and opportunities.

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It is a process of figuring out new ideas and solutions by means of brainstorming and mind mapping. The goal is to come up with as many ideas with as diverse a group as possible (members, customers, external parties, and other stakeholders).

The process of ideation alone presents a lot of innovation skills that must be learned.

For instance:

Creative Thinking

Creative thinking means a lot of things. To some, it means thinking outside the box. To others, it involves formulating strategic methods of handling tasks, solving problems, and approaching challenges and opportunities.

A lot of people also see creative thinking as the ability to recognize patterns and systems that are often unnoticeable to some, thereby introducing a fresh and unique perspective of performing work-related processes.

In general, creative thinking helps departments achieve their objectives in a productive manner. It speeds things up, inspires employees to turn over high-quality outputs, and produces valuable ideas that are worth exploring by the organization.

Design Thinking

Design thinking is a concept and a skill that focuses on the application of innovation and creativity in processes like problem-solving and decision making. It is the ability to solve other people’s problems by devising creative and innovative solutions that are applicable to them.

Empathy and Connection

Empathy enables individuals to understand the sentiments of others — a phenomenon achieved when we start to perceive things through other people’s points of view.

Empathy and Connection

Seeing situations from a customer’s perspective allows organizations to come up with the best solutions that people can use to solve their problems.

Associating Past and Present Situations

In ideation, being able to associate past and present situations saves time. Setting precedents solves issues a lot easier when similarities are observed between two situations occurring in different circumstances.

It uses previous circumstances as a guide in solving present problems. Solutions may be used all the same, or ideas may be modified and modernized.


Facilitation is the process of devising and overseeing meetings. Facilitators run group assemblies with a certain objective at hand, such as ideate, plan, brainstorm, and many others.

Those who are skilled at facilitating also help teams resolve conflicts. They know how to handle interpersonal dynamics and are in charge of:

  • Organizing group meetings
  • Establishing a unified mindset
  • Formulating idea-generating questions
  • Overseeing that objectives are met after the assembly
  • Introducing and structuring information for easy absorption
  • Reporting results of group meetings to concerned stakeholders
  • Drawing possible solutions and other relevant information in a cohesive manner

4. Selecting

Determining which ideas are worth pursuing is an ability that organizations need to develop to save time and resources.

Understanding what initiatives to implement and what plans to execute involve the following skills:

Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is key in making decisions.

It helps organizations examine and assess data to choose the best plan of action to implement. It weighs the pros and cons of proposed measures before deciding to do something and uses analysis to identify key elements in the business. 

Critical thinking is also useful in handling crises and reviewing financial reports.


When presented with a lot of options to consider, a choice has to be made based on logical reasoning and intuition.

This is what decision-making is all about. It’s a process that involves selecting the best ideas and studying the best course of action to pursue, including possible alternatives and emergency measures.

5. Implementing

Overseeing how ideas are brought to life includes breaking down the project into actionable fragments and developing a detailed plan to follow. Aside from taking responsibility and accountability from start to finish, implementing ideas also include the use of business thinking.

Business Thinking

Business thinking refers to the productive and effective application of business principles in the company’s business model, including leadership, culture, organizational understanding, and design.

It strives to create a solid response to various business situations and create decisions that foster strategic impact. It aims to encourage trust and confidence with business partners, customers, and other parties that the business has a professional relationship with.

How to Learn Innovation Skills

These are the four steps that you can take to learn innovation skills:

  • Audit current innovation skills: Assess yourself. Know which innovation skills you need to develop and understand what actions you can take to learn them. You can also take an aptitude test to have a concrete basis of the skills that you need to obtain.
  • Engage more in the creative process: Participate in brainstorming sessions and other ideation challenges. Take every opportunity that you have to tap into your creative side. Write down your ideas and explore how you can implement or develop them.
  • Practice problem-solving skills: Approach challenges and constraints innovatively. Find out creative solutions and prepare alternative ways to address the problem in case a crisis appears.
  • Keep learning and improving: Once you have experienced the first three steps, reflect on everything that happened and understand where you need to make improvements.

Participate in the same activities again and apply what you have learned this time. Do this continuously to maintain a cycle of learning and improvement.

Improve Your Innovation Skills

Here are three simple ways for you to improve your innovation skills and competency:

1. Be open and willing to change.

It’s easy to envision yourself as somebody who’s skilled and competent when it comes to innovation, but this kind of change doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and hard work.

Improvement comes with openness, willingness, and discipline. It would be hard to improve your innovation skills without fully committing to it.

2. Join a community of innovators.

Joining a community of innovators enables you to:

  • Meet innovation experts
  • Encounter useful information and other educational materials and opportunities about innovation
  • Participate in discussions regarding innovative activities
  • Work with others on developing innovative ideas
  • Get answers to innovation-related questions

3. Go for an innovation training.

Accept Mission offers innovation training for those who want to gain a thorough understanding of effectively managing innovation and creating real value.

With us, you will become proficient in:

  • Innovation management
  • Idea management
  • Sprint facilitation
  • Digital innovation management

Next steps: Learning innovation skills might be challenging, but Accept Mission can help you out with methodically structured training that fosters innovative thinking and abilities. 

Learn more about how Accept Mission’s consultancy services could help you.

Published On: June 2nd, 2021Categories: Innovation management

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