Cooking up innovation - Part 2 - The core ingredients

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Our ability to transform as individuals and as a bank is crucial to our future success. So in this alphaBeta content series we are exploring what it takes to be continuously innovative - what are the qualities needed? Is it something you are born with or can an innovative mindset be nurtured?

Following up on Part 1, where we shared our recipe for creating innovative ideas, now we’re dishing out some of our top lessons on the innate qualities of innovators.

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What qualities make an innovator?

In the debate between nature and nurture as the foundation of an innovative mind, we’ve found that it is a mixture of both that is crucial, with the common thread being an individual with a growth mindset.

That means someone with the ability to face failure and a level of comfort with ambiguity. Someone who is always willing to learn and change. Someone who can leave their mind open enough to make connections that others might miss.

Part of serving ATB customers with an open mind is the ability to ‘hear’ beyond words. Whether we are conducting user tests for internal technology products or creating happiness through banking for ATB customers on the front lines, our ability to listen gives purpose to innovation. For any innovator, listening to the environment and people around you is a powerful guidepost. Listening ensures that you’re chasing truly meaningful and impactful ideas, avoiding the pitfall of innovating for the sake of innovation.

At ATB, we are proud of the diverse backgrounds and experiences of our team members. Just like there is no clear and defined path to become an innovator, there is no single set process to become a Transformer; but here are some of the innate qualities that we look for in our team members:

Grit. Someone with grit is not afraid to roll up their sleeves and leave ego at the door, they work outside their comfort zone and regularly do things that are ‘beyond’ their knowledge or ability, when it will create positive change for ATB customers.

Passion. Being driven by a bigger purpose brings a certain kind of energy that is not otherwise possible. ATB is driven by the mission to create happiness for Albertans through banking, that’s what drives everything we do.

Perseverance. Someone with perseverance has the ability to get back up when they get knocked down over and over (and over) again. When training your physical body or your mind, there are steep inclines and long plateaus. Perseverance means having the determination to power uphill through the difficult parts and the patience to continue when fighting through a plateau. Every time you feel a new challenge, know that if you stick it out one day you’ll look back and think ‘wow, when was I ever not an expert on this?’ It doesn’t necessarily get easier, but every time is less scary.

While many of the qualities of an innovator are inherent, there are also plenty of soft-skills that make the difference between having a creative idea and actually bringing that idea to life.

Innovation = creativity + execution

Communication and leadership skills will often make or break the ability of a creative person to execute on an idea.

How will your crazy idea positively impact your organization? You must be able to listen without bias or judgement and communicate the vision to management to get buy in. You must inspire your team members in order to leverage their talents and successfully carry out your crazy idea.

So whether you’re a natural born innovator, a creative-type building the soft-skills to turn ideas into reality, or a career minded individual looking to nurture your creative side - if you have grit, passion, perseverance, and the ability to truly listen, we’re confident you’ll get there. And we hope you’ll think of joining us.