Change Your Innovator's DNA Expression

Change Your Innovator's DNA Expression

In their book, The Innovator's DNA, the authors identified 5 parts to the secret sauce of innovative business success: In thinking about how these skills work together, they found it useful to apply the metaphor of DNA. Associating is like the backbone structure of DNA’s double helix; four patterns of action (questioning, observing, experimenting, and networking) wind around this backbone, helping to cultivate new insights. And just as each person’s physical DNA is unique, each individual we studied had a unique innovator’s DNA for generating breakthrough business ideas.

Innovation starts with mindset. Most scientists, engineers and health professionals don't have it. However, there are ways to develop and change the gene expression by practicing epigenetic exercises. In case you missed that biology class, epigenetics literally means "above" or "on top of" genetics. It refers to external modifications to DNA that turn genes "on" or "off." These modifications do not change the DNA sequence, but instead, they affect how cells "read" genes.

So, if you want to unlock your innerpreneurial genes, try:

  1. Associating, by realizing that sickcare USA cannot be fixed from inside.

  2. Associating by practicing open innovation.

  3. Associating by thinking twice about thinking out of the box.

  4. Questioning by being a problem seeker, not a problem solver.

  5. Questioning why not instead of why and getting to why.

  6. Observing by learning to see around corners.

  7. Observing by looking for the clues, not the roadmap.

  8. Experimenting by using the business model canvas instead of writing a business plan.

  9. Experimenting by applying your clinical or scientific mindset.

  10. Networking by building robust internal and external networks.

  11. Networking the right way when coldLinking.

  12. Networking by learning how to meet up at a Meetup.

  13. Networking by growing and engaging your alumni network.

Here are some more ways to sharpen your entrepreneurial skills.

Doctors have the potential to make great entrepreneurs because they have the DNA. No, they are not lousy business people. Downstream gene expression, though, is often a problem.

Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA is the President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs on Twitter@ArlenMD and Co-editor of Digital Health Entrepreneurship.

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  • Alex Young

    Interesting and scary at the same time

  • Gail Dodson

    We can set all the limits we want with technology

  • Emily McDaniel

    Much more sick care entrepreneurial research is needed.

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Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA

Former Contributor

Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA is a professor emeritus of otolaryngology, dentistry, and engineering at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and the Colorado School of Public Health and President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs at He has created several medical device and digital health companies. His primary research centers around biomedical and health innovation and entrepreneurship and life science technology commercialization. He consults for and speaks to companies, governments, colleges and universities around the world who need his expertise and contacts in the areas of bio entrepreneurship, bioscience, healthcare, healthcare IT, medical tourism -- nationally and internationally, new product development, product design, and financing new ventures. He is a former Harvard-Macy fellow and In 2010, he completed a Fulbright at Kings Business, the commercialization office of technology transfer at Kings College in London. He recently published "Building the Case for Biotechnology." "Optical Detection of Cancer", and " The Life Science Innovation Roadmap". He is also an associate editor of the Journal of Commercial Biotechnology and Technology Transfer and Entrepreneurship and Editor-in-Chief of Medscape. In addition, He is a faculty member at the University of Colorado Denver Graduate School where he teaches Biomedical Entrepreneurship and is an iCorps participant, trainer and industry mentor. He is the Chief Medical Officer at and and Chairman of the Board at GlobalMindED at, a non-profit at risk student success network. He is honored to be named by Modern Healthcare as one of the 50 Most Influential Physician Executives of 2011 and nominated in 2012 and Best Doctors 2013.

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