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5 Ways to Be More Innovative in the Digital Age

Across the globe, from Kansas to Kuala Lumpur, there’s an increasing awareness that our future depends on our ability to spur further innovation. While innovation has always been a de facto part of the business world, there’s been a recent shift in the conversation and an emerging sense of immediacy about the importance of innovation for our future. Innovation is what will solve some of the most complex challenges we’ve ever faced as a society and as a global community. Individuals, organizations and even countries are recognizing innovation as the driving force for economic improvement, and they are identifying technology as the driver. In order for innovation to occur, there must be a cultural ecosystem in place which rewards curiosity, encourages learning from failure, and promotes diversity in choices.

Let’s examine the current global landscape.

On one hand you have countries such as Kuwait where the majority of citizens go into the oil business or join the public sector. On a recent trip to Kuwait to mentor young entrepreneurs, they explained how jobs are more or less guaranteed to those who qualify under the current system, which is dependent on the industries and institutions that have historically driven their economy. They shared my concerns that although the current system created opportunity for past generations, this approach is hardly sustainable in the long term due to changing markets and an increase in supply and is not a system built to adapt to the ever-increasing pace of change in the digital age. And, Kuwait isn’t alone. Countries such as Switzerland, where banking is synonymous with cultural identity, are also facing the same dilemma. How to encourage innovation when it is far less risky to join the masses and stick to a tested…and promised route?

On the other hand, you have countries like the United States where an inherent part of the American dream is the ability to make choices. However, recent economic conditions have drastically narrowed some of those choices. Industries such as automotive which attracted and promised well paying careers for generations have all but disappeared within the last few years. Most college graduates consider themselves lucky if they can just land a job. “We need more jobs” has become the battle cry of everyone from educators to politicians.

In both cases, the markets are changing but technology today affords us a fighting chance to create opportunity in the midst of eroding business models and massive industry shifts. Ironically, innovation and embracing change are the keys to future stability. And, while innovation has long been part of the business vernacular, today there is a need for a more strategic and mindful version of innovation. Luckily, innovation isn’t magic. It can be taught and cultivated with practice. Here are five ways you can develop your mindset and ability to be more innovative.

1) Become a better curator of ideas and content. Curation requires filters and organizers, and strong curation skills lead to more innovative ideas. Just ask any librarian! Every day you read and filter more and more information. Create a mental filter so you can choose what’s relevant to you, and then organize key information within a context. Essentially, approach your daily consumption of content as a researcher would – with awareness and strategy.

Finish reading the other 4 ways on Forbes.