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From Pontin, 2006, Attributes of successful innovators --

  1. Successful innovators are famously untroubled by the prospect of failure.
  2. More profoundly, many innovators appreciate failure.
  3. Innovators commonly recognize that ""problems and questions are the limiting resource in innovation,"" says Ed Boyden, a Stanford University neurobiologist. He means that difficult questions are thrilling: ""If we take a really hard question, like 'What is consciousness?' or 'How do we store memories?', it's not even clear how we should even approach the problem.""
  4. Innovators find inspiration in disparate disciplines.
  5. Innovation flourishes when organizations allow third-party experimentation with their products.
  6. Fragility is the enemy of innovation: systems should boast broad applications and be unbreakable.
  7. Real innovators delight in giving us what we want: solutions to our difficulties and expansive alternatives to our established ways.
  8. Innovators are sometimes perplexed by our ignorance of our own needs.
  9. Successful innovators do not depend on what economists call ""network externalities"" (where a system, like a fax machine, has little use to its first user, but becomes increasingly valuable as more people use it): ""Ideally, the system should be useful for user number one,"" says Schachter. Hence, innovators can divine needs by applying a utilitarian imperative: they ask, Would the innovation help someone now?
  10. Many innovators become technologists because they want to better the world.