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Are Experts Better Innovators? Part A

expert innovatorThe Expert

It takes 10,000 hours to become an expert, but do these 10,000 hours of learning also help you to be more innovative?

Teresa Amabile finds that creativity is linked to domain skills, creative thinking and working skills, and intrinsic motivation. Everything else being equal, experts should thus be more creative, and creativity is the source of innovation, right?

… or the Generalist?

However, to innovate, you not only need a great idea, you also need to develop this idea, and get it implemented and/or find a customer. You may also require experimentation, information technology, marketing or sales skills—in short, skills that are not necessarily aligned with your area of expertise.

Do you have to become a generalist to be successful at innovation? No, not necessarily, but you do have to collaborate with others, and that will require you to have at least some interest in these other areas and basic knowledge of them. For example, you don’t need to be a statistician to write a research paper that requires it, however, you do need some knowledge of research statistics in order to collaborate with a statistician. The same is true for innovation. You don’t need to be an expert in all domains, but some knowledge is helpful. The rest of it you will learn on the go.

To summarize, your expertise will help you identify opportunities that others have not yet seen. You, as the expert, will have to champion these ideas to get them developed and implemented. However, to be successful in your innovation endeavors, you will need the help of others in domains outside of your expertise, and such collaboration is easier said than done.

Interested in knowing more about how you as a professional expert can successfully lead innovation efforts? Please visit our website at or contact us by e-mail: info “at” organizing4innovation “dot” com.


Amabile, T.M. 1998 How to Kill Creativity, Harvard Business Review (September/October), pages 77-87

Gladwell, M. 2008 Outliers, The Story of Success, Back Bay Books, New York