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Since Darwin first published his findings on the Galapagos tortoises, the nature vs. nurture debate has raged. Fast forward 150 years and the argument has permeated corporate culture. Mainly, are the Richard Bransons, Elon Musks, and Oprahs of the world born with an edge or do they create it for themselves? Take a closer look at both sides of the argument, how innovators stoke their creativity, and how collaboration brings it all together.

The case for nature

According to Forbes, innovators possess a few key traits that come naturally to them:

  • Being different is better than OK, it’s necessary. Innovators think and act against the grain, creating environments and workplaces that challenge the norm.
  • Risk doesn’t scare them. It excites them. Conventions and shortcuts have no place in an innovator’s business. They embrace complex solutions—even if it means taking on more risk.
  • Change is part of their DNA—keeping pace is, too. Innovators rarely rest on their laurels. With every accomplishment comes another goal, especially as more start-ups compete for market share. As a result, innovators manage change well, navigating resistance to their ideas.

The case for nurture

Innovation takes plenty of work, and leaders know the importance of investing in the following practices:

  • Group-thinks are critical. Great ideas may be unique to an individual, but it takes a village to put them in motion. Innovators sharpen their skills by recruiting a forward-thinking team.
  • Relinquishing control for the greater good. The best innovators lead from the center of their organizations, encouraging employee creativity and career development.
  • Every opinion matters. Solutions to challenging problems come from diverse perspectives. Innovators focus on facilitating dynamic, highly productive conversations and creating values-based organizations.

The verdict: Innovation isn’t elite. It’s earned.

Like exercise and healthy eating habits, creativity requires dedication. Todd Henry, a creativity guru, advises his high-profile clients to take an hour every day to sit and think—scheduling time to let their thoughts take them to new discoveries without limitations. This is a prime example of how innovators combine their natural instincts with environmental parameters to set themselves apart from their competition. By blocking out time to think, innovators stoke their innate desire to create something new.

Support for every innovator

You’ve got the gusto and the skills—now all you need is the platform to advance your goals. Here at Microsoft, we’re working with partners around the globe to ensure their innovative products reach the right audiences. We’ve made it our mission to support partners and empower their customers to work together to grow their businesses. Check out our Microsoft Partner Network site for more information.

Learn more about Microsoft Innovation Centers How to empower innovation Join a network of innovators