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Open Access Thoughts on Improving Innovation: What Are the Characteristics of Innovation and How Do We Cultivate Them?

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This paper will review current thinking about innovation and identify key innovative traits as initial steps in exploring the feasibility of teaching innovative thinking. While education may not be able to create innovative traits in individuals, education may improve the ability of individuals to utilize the traits they already possess. Therefore, we begin by defining innovation and identifying the characteristics, traits, and thought processes of innovative individuals or groups of individuals and the environments that they exist in using the existing literature and personal experience. This information will help formulate a process to educate individuals to better utilize their innovative traits. If we can envision a curve depicting the utilization of traits, where on the left of the curve we would place individuals with a low utilization, on the right of the curve would be individuals with a very high utilization rate, and in the middle a distribution between the two extremes, our goal would be to develop an educational process whereby we could show individuals how to fully utilize the traits they have, awaken traits that are dormant, and, in so doing, shift the distribution toward fuller utilization. With greater utilization of innovative traits, we could then expect to increase the number of innovations that individuals or groups of individuals contribute to our society.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2017

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  • Technology and Innovation, edited and published by the National Academy of Inventors, is a forum for presenting information encompassing the entire field of applied sciences, with a focus on transformative technology and academic innovation. Regular features of T&I include commentaries contributed by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and in-depth profiles of Fellows of the National Academy of Inventors in every issue.

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