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The Emotional Journey of Innovation: The Potential of Lone Innovators in the Creation of Breakthrough Innovations
Matt Collins & Leon Williams
Cranfield University, UK
Lone innovators could be the most valuable individuals within an organization but are increasingly incongruous within today’s corporate environments. Companies usually attempt to foster innovation through ‘creative thinking’, based upon positive affective experiences and group col laboration. However, historical evidence suggests that breakthrough innovations have frequently been associated with solitary individuals and mood disorder; the model for creative thinking, based upon positive affect, does not work for these cases. Although mood is widely associated with creativity, which is in-turn thought to underpin innovation, there are, to date, no longitudinal studies in which this link has actually been demonstrated or proven. In our longitudinal study (744-days), the changing mood-state of a lone innovator was captured, as they conceived and developed a major technological innovation for a leading Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) organization. A repeating cycle of emotion, driven by a fear of failure, was observed, which appeared to link the innovator’s emotional state to their measurable real world creative efficacy. The observed phenomenon (innovation waves) could represent a distinct form of cognitive creativity (innovative thinking) that is particularly well aligned to real-world innovation.
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Collins, M., & Williams, L. (2018). The Emotional Journey of Innovation: The Potential of Lone Innovators in the Creation of Breakthrough Innovations. Business Creativity and the Creative Economy, 4, 19-31. https://doi.org/10.18536/bcce.2018.10.8.1.03