What Makes an Idea Innovative? 6 Characteristics to Consider

Career Wisdom
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Consider these characteristics as you evaluate your idea for innovation.

In the modern business world, there’s seemingly a constant push to come up with innovative ideas that transform the way we live. The problem, however, is everyone thinks their idea is pioneering, making it even harder to achieve true innovation. If you think you’re on the cusp of the next “disrupting” business, product or service, ask yourself these questions to determine whether your idea is actually innovative.

Is Your Idea Original?

The first requirement of an innovative idea is originality. And that doesn’t mean improving on an existing idea by adding your own flavor. It means a coming up with a unique idea that introduces a new way of thinking to the market.

Is Your Idea Feasible?

For an idea to be innovative, it must be doable. As such, coming up with the idea is only half the battle — if you can’t figure out how to make your idea a reality, it’s not truly innovative. Uber upended taxis. Postmates transformed food delivery. In both cases, though, the smartphone made it possible.

Does Your Idea Address an Issue or a Challenge?

One of the most important characteristics of an innovative idea is that it solves a problem. True innovation adds real value to those who use it. In other words, an innovative idea helps improve people’s lives.

Does Your Idea Redefine the Status Quo?

An innovative idea transforms the way people think and, thus, shifts how the entire market operates as a result. It also helps to introduce new customers to the market because it profoundly changes the way people live.

In the age of technology and rapid innovation, it’s hard to tell if an idea is truly innovative.

Is Your Idea Something People Actually Need?

Oftentimes when we think of innovation, we think of things that are just simply neat — like a microwave you can control with your voice, for example. The difference between cool ideas and innovative ones, however, is that innovation provides something that people actually need — whether they realize they need it or not. In many cases, this can be measured by whether your idea will make people’s lives easier and more efficient. If your idea will help people get more done or improve the quality, accuracy or ability to do something, then it’s one step closer to being innovative.

Does Your Idea Will Keep the World Moving Forward?

Your idea might seem groundbreaking on the surface, and it could even improve people’s lives. But it’s also important to consider whether it’ll have a negative effect on something else, such as the environment, for example. If your idea makes things easier for people but will destroy something else along the way, it’s not innovative — nor is it sustainable, for that matter.


Get a Second Opinion

Do you think you have an innovative idea — but you’re not really sure? A professional mentor can help. Find a professional mentor who can guide you on the path to innovation on the Bear Down Network, a professional networking platform for Arizona alumni.