The authors of a paper published in Journal of the National Academy of Inventors® define innovation as "the introduction of something new and different” which is created by inspiration and creativity. According to them, the commencement of the process is generally linked with “a fragmented inspiration” which is developed further by "joining with other fragmented thoughts to finally arrive at a creative inspiration."
The authors argue that innovative thinking does not always create something new. It sometimes immensely improves an existing thing or helps solve a problem. The keys of the innovative process are motivation, goal setting, and persistence.
Inspiration is not purely divine or mystic, instead it is the interaction between an individual’s current knowledge and his newly received information.
To cultivate innovative thinking, one must identify traits and characteristics which can be nurtured and developed through education. These include curiosity; motivation; creativity; a desire to 'fill gaps'; taking risks with no fear of failure; abstract thinking; open-mindedness; problem solving; a positive attitude; vision; dissatisfaction with what exists; and persistence and passion.
When these characteristics form the basis of an educational process, it would help in unleashing the innovative and creative potential of students.