In business, innovation is essential. When entrepreneurs innovate, they invent new products, create new marketing strategies, and find new solutions to age old problems.

In fact, studies have shown that the more new ideas a company develops, the more likely they are to see a growth in profits or net income.

But is it possible to teach innovation?

The answer is yes, absolutely. But perhaps not in the way you might be thinking.

You can’t just teach someone to be more creative, or to come up with more ideas. What we need to do is teach students to be more receptive to collaborative ways of working. Collaboration is the secret ingredient for innovation.

When we’re open to working with other people, we allow ourselves to benefit from their ideas and perspectives. Different people have different ways of thinking, and the more of these thinking styles we can bring to the table, the more likely we are to develop new, innovative solutions.

So, what are the main things we need to teach students?

1) Listen to dissenting opinions

Belief in our own views is helpful, but we need to make sure that students know there’s value in listening to other opinions. Even if those other opinions challenge our ideas, they will bring helpful new insights to consider.

2) Encourage opposing opinions

Listening to other views is one thing, but innovation is best fostered in environments where we encourage other people to disagree with us. Students need to be comfortable telling others that they want honest feedback, and asking them to tell them what they really think of their ideas.

3) Collaboration from start to finish is essential

Innovation doesn’t just happen in one moment of time. Innovation can occur from the moment of ideation to the moment of implementation. Students need to know this, and understand that collaboration isn’t just a flash in the pan. They need to work with other people at every stage of the project.

Collaboration is key to innovation. We need to explain this to students, to make sure that when they graduate and open their own businesses, they welcome, rather than reject, opposing ideas. More ideas will lead to greater innovation.