Executive + Artist: The Dual Role of a (Business) Innovator

As a business innovator, you don’t quite fit in predefined boxes of expertise.

You’re swaying somewhere between the business, the creative, and the technical domains. You may work in different industries, mingling with different groups, taking on different roles and speaking in a different ‘language’.

Although it’s probably this natural disposition that led you to the field of innovation in the first place, this dual role continues to pose a mental challenge as we grow into our talents, join teams and drive projects.

Being a business innovator demands you to strike a fine balance between the critical method of a business executive or VC, and the creative mind of an artist.

It asks you:
.. to be sensitive and perceptive to inspirations all around you, yet be strictly analytical about selecting which ideas to move forward with.
.. to form vibrant visions on the future of your business, yet bring this down to actionable tasks that can be done today.
.. to solve problems with creative, out-of-the-box thinking, yet be highly pragmatic in implementing solutions.
.. to be immersed in flow-states and deep thought, yet be diligent and rigorous in getting them out there.
.. to align behind your ideas strongly, yet keep an open mind to feedback from your users and stakeholders.

The practice of innovation is as much an art as a science.

Equalizing this balance will remain a challenge. We must be able to switch from the creative thinking hat to the polarizing critical in a matter of minutes. Sometimes we may have to make choices, holding both in mind simultaneously. And we keep developing our abilities in both hemispheres instead of excelling in one. It is this mind fluidity that allows us to do our jobs well.

Ultimately, it is even more of a treasure. Instead of limiting ourselves to applying one method in our career, and keeping the others “for our own time”: we are able to integrate all these different facets of our mind, of our personalities, of our being, into our work. Training our brain for such mastery keeps us from settling in a static way of thinking and ensures we’ll never get bored.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

It is the integration of the two that I love. Allowing my business-minded analytics to not only co-exist alongside my lateral creativity bursts but to combine their forces to create value in a way that neither of them could alone.

Do you experience this split in your work as an innovator? Or in what other places do you encounter this challenge of mind fluidity? I’d love to hear if your thoughts on this challenge, and how you make it work in your favor.

With love,

Posted by Nadia Piet

New Zealand-born, Amsterdam-bred terrestrial being, practicing the art of living in a digital age, and help others do the same. Passionate about shaping the future of work, education and life and helping people and organizations navigate the many challenges and opportunities of the 21st century. Because I believe “the best way to predict the future is to create it”.

  • Catalina Catana

    Couldn’t agree more. I guess the challenge of the future innovator is to find the right formula to balance the two and be flexible enough to switch depending on the situation. Personally still exploring how to find this equilibrium. I strongly believe however that the real challenge is in our attitude and behaviour. Because for such a long time it has been a given to choose one field, one area, on job, one industry and so on, we feel nowadays that this is what we need to do. However it’s not true. We are so lucky to be born in this age where we have the freedom and flexibility to shape our own future, create new roles around the duality we experience as professionals. We just need to accept the fact that we can combine our skills and create something unique out of it.

    • Thank you for your elaborate and beautiful comment! I couldn’t have said it better. Let’s keep on creating and making our own unique contributions to the field of innovation and beyond 🙂 and supporting one another on the journey