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What are the traits of an innovative thinker?

By Pacific National
Innovative ideas don't have to be overly complex, they just have to make a workplace process better.

Gathering ideas from our employees is at the heart of what we do at Pacific National. We think it’s best to capture the thoughts and feelings of those who are dealing with issues in their day-to-day roles, and channel them into innovation.

But does everyone have the potential to be truly innovative? Are there things the average person can do to think creatively?

What is innovation?

Well, answering both those questions involves going back to basics and garnering an understanding of what innovation actually is and why it’s relevant. Research published by Princeton University explained that in essence, their are two types of innovation:

  • Product: In business, this involves bringing a new product, service of offering to market.
  • Process: A process innovation is essentially something that streamlines an organisation’s output, be that internally or externally.

The same research also gave a broad definition of innovation as any new ideas or activities that can ultimately add value. This is something we want to encourage at Asciano. Innovation isn’t necessarily reserved for vast teams of designated thinkers; it’s actually far more effective when it comes from those on the ground solving the issues that are most important to them.

‘Applying Innovation’ authors David O’Sullivan and Lawrence Dooley found that innovation is also directly related to growth in the business world. Consequently, if an organisation is to consistently better itself, must rely on harnessing bright ideas.

Innovation: Nature or nurture?

Thinking innovatively may come naturally to some, but it’s certainly a skill that can be learned over time. In essence, some of the best, truly special ideas are relatively simple, and it’s merely a case of identifying them in your professional or personal life.

Innovative people look at issues from alternative perspectives.

“The characteristic of great innovators and great companies is they see a space that others do not. They don’t just listen to what people tell them; they actually invent something new, something that you didn’t know you needed, but the moment you see it, you say, ‘I must have it,'” explained former CEO of Google Eric Schmidt, as noted by Forbes.

As the quote suggests, one of the most effective traits of innovative people is the ability to look at things from an alternative perspective, even if others believe that the endeavour may not be necessary.

Naturally, this doesn’t mean that you should consistently waste time pursuing fruitless projects, but it does show that it’s best to think a little differently, and ask questions in the face of problems.

Getting creative

So, how can those in transports and logistics jobs unlock their inner-creative genius? Well, we can’t make any promises, but there are certainly a few examples of traits possessed by those who regularly manage to ‘think outside the box’.

In fact, a study from the Norwegian Business School and published by Science Daily explained that innovative characters have one or several of these personality traits:

  • Associative orientation: Have a wealth of ideas and are able to commit to them.
  • Ambition: Desire to be an influencer of change
  • Originality: Consistently aim to defy convention.
  • Flexibility: Adapt to the problems at hand.
  • Motivation: Determined to tackle difficult issues.

Ultimately, the study found that creative people may need a helping hand to get their projects off their ground, and we believe it’s our job as a company to do just that. Capturing innovation is by no means easy, but if you have one of these five traits, you may already be on the right path without even knowing it.

It’s all about mentality. Psychology Today found that the most creative people tackle issues head on, and have a genuine energy for problem solving. At a personal level, it’s a case of trying to capture playfulness yet discipline.

After all, anyone who works in rail freight, car transport or even a field outside the transport and logistics sphere will have to prioritise getting the job done. However, there’s certainly a balance to be struck.

While innovation may seem like a concept that’s out of reach, it’s essentially a case of looking around your workplace and identifying things that can be done more effectively. This can not only make your day-to-day life that much easier, but it also has the potential to make your company better, too.

Innovative thinking doesn't have to be complex. It's a case of looking at issues at finding ways to solve them.Innovative thinking doesn’t have to be complex. It’s a case of looking at issues and finding ways to solve them.

At Pacific National, we believe that fostering and maintaining an innovative culture isn’t something that can happen overnight. It takes work and everyone involved needs to be pulling in the same direction.

We are continually looking to progress, and aim to be a market leader in innovative solutions and services. Achieving that goal will be down to our people, and how they can recognise their own creative traits, problem solve and make the workplace that much better for everyone.