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Essential Skills for Innovation

Essential Skills for Innovation

Big Ideas Summary

This featured topic is designed to help young people cultivate competencies necessary to social innovation but equally transferable to all areas of life, work and community.

So what are those essential skills? Arguably all skills and knowledge will add value as you embark on your journey as a social innovator. That said, we are offering you a list of five high-yielding essential skills that we believe can help you make this year one of social prosperity.


Integrative Thinking


Financial Literacy


Ownership is the key to leadership and the starting point of all innovation. Ownership is empowerment that is self-determined. It is not a title or a deed but rather this very liberating notion that you influence the end result to happen. Whether it is your vision, a goal, or an entire social venture, without ownership, no one is responsible and nothing happens. Cultivate the skill of taking ownership.

Take Ownership of Your Actions by John Coleman

Are you waiting for someone else to act, take initiative, take charge of your idea? Dream? Future? Coleman writes about the scary yet exhilarating truth that YOU are the person you have been waiting for.

Integrative Thinking is the 21st century successor to the all-important skill of Problem Solving. F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote: “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function. One should, for example, be able to see that things are hopeless yet be determined to make them otherwise.” Integrative Thinking is all about taking opposing perspectives or ideas and strategically crafting a third choice “that contains elements of both but improves on each”.

How Successful Leaders Think by Roger Martin

Conventional thinkers settle for “second best” because they only see trade-offs. They prefer to accept the world as it is. On the other hand, integrative thinkers keep their options open. They welcome the challenge of shaping the world for the better. Roger Martin, author of The Opposable Mind, has found that brilliant leaders excel at integrative thinking. Learn more about how successful leaders think in this Harvard Business Review article.

Self-Development is the act of self-guided improvement. If we are to make the world better, we must first begin with ourselves.

An Incomplete Manifesto for Growth by Bruce Mau

In 1998, the incomparable Bruce Mau put pen to paper and crafted a manifesto for his multi-disciplinary design firm. This manifesto articulates the principles, intentions and process Mau envisioned and cultivated over his note-worthy career that continues to guide him and his team in their work.

10 Resolutions for Social Entrepreneurs in 2013 by Eli Malinsky

Each January, millions of people undertake the ritual of creating “resolutions” in a collective effort to improve ourselves as individuals. This attention to growth and the corresponding actions we take to achieve it - is an essential skill for any social innovator. Read these 10 resolutions that social entrepreneurs should consider as they embark on this new year of change-making.

Financial Literacy continues to top the list of all the skills and knowledge that social entrepreneurs desire to develop. Whether you are managing the finances for a Fortune 500 company or your own piggy bank, understanding money is a necessity for any young person and all social entrepreneurs.

Money & Youth

This guide was developed by the Canadian Foundation for Economic Education in conjunction with Investors Group and seeks to fill a gap by talking about money in a personal and accessible way. Check out Chapter 7 of this guide which focuses on the key attributes and skills of entrepreneurs or turn to Chapter 15 for some hands-on tools to help you get acquainted with basics of budgeting.

It’s Her Business

This handbook was originally designed to aid at-risk women in developing the necessary framework and understanding to become entrepreneurs. Using this as a more general resource, you will find that Chapter 10 on the Fundamentals of Finance for a Beginning Entrepreneur will provide any aspiring innovator with basic knowledge and terminology invaluable in both the planning and management of personal and project-related financial goals.

Execution may be the most undervalued of the myriad skills human beings can develop and hone. But without execution, the pyramids would not have been built, the internet would not exist and the greatest books would never have been written.

Without Doing, Dreaming is Useless by Rilla Alexander

In her highly-original talk at a recent 99 Percent Conference, Rilla Alexander tells the story of the classic struggle many creatives and innovators experience as we transform idea into reality.

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Financial Literacy is an essential skill for innovation. In this HP Life on cash flow you will learn how to make decisions about how to manage cash, and use spreadsheet software to track your cash flow.

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