THURSDAY THOUGHTS! - What Type of Innovator Are You?

Posted by | March 22, 2012 | Thursday Thoughts | No Comments

For innovation to happen, various conditions have to be in place culturally.  So,

“What type of innovator are you?”

I’ll leave it to you to decide which one fits you best .You may even see a little of yourself in more than one group.  But remember, none of these are bad!  Quite the opposite actually,  all play crucial roles in developing an idea, pushing it up the corporate channels, developing a strategy and overseeing execution and implementation. These are all pieces of a puzzle, arteries leading to the beating heart of corporate innovation. Wow – can I make that sound any more dramatic? A quick reference guide to these innovative personality types follow, just to get you thinking:

Movers and Shakers. With a strong personal drive, these are leaders. Targets and rewards motivate them strongly, but a major incentive for this group is the idea of creating a legacy and wielding influence over others. These are the ones who like being in the front, driving projects forward (and maybe promoting themselves in the process), but at the end of the day, they provide the push to get things done. On the flip side, they can be a bit arrogant, and impatient with teamwork.  Movers and Shakers tend to cluster in risk and corporate strategy, in the private equity and media industries, at mid-size companies; they comprise 22% of total executives.

Experimenters. Persistent and open to all new things, experimenters are perhaps the perfect combination for bringing a new idea through the various phases of development and execution. “Where there is a will, there is a way,” is perhaps the best way to describe them. They’re perfectionists and tend to be workaholics, most likely because it takes an incredible amount of dedication, time and hard work to push through an idea or initiative that hasn’t yet caught on. They take deep pride in their achievements, but they also enjoy sharing their expertise with others; they’re that intense colleague who feels passionately about what they do and makes everyone else feel guilty for daydreaming during the meeting about what they plan on making for dinner that night. Because they’re so persistent, even in the face of sometimes considerable pushback, they’re crucial to the innovation cycle. They tend to be risk-takers.  

Star Pupils. Do you remember those kids in school who sat in the front, whose hands were the first in the air anytime the teacher asked a question? Maybe they even shouted out “Ooh! Ooh!” too just to get the teacher to notice them first? This is the segment of the executive population those kids grew into. They’re good at…well, they’re good at everything, really: developing their personal brand, seeking out and cultivating the right mentors, identifying colleagues’ best talents and putting them to their best use. Somehow, they seem to be able to rise through the ranks and make things happen, even when corporate culture seems stacked against them. They’re the stem cells of the business world.

Controllers. Uncomfortable with risk, Controllers thrive on structure and shy away from more nebulous projects. Above all, they prefer to be in control of their domain and like to have everything in its place. As colleagues, they’re not exactly the team players and networkers; Controllers are more insular and like to focus on concrete, clear-cut objectives where they know exactly where they stand and can better control everything around them.

Hangers-On. Forget the less-than-flattering name; these executives exist to bring everyone back down to earth and tether them to reality. On a dinner plate, Hangers-On would be the spinach: few people’s favorite, but extremely important in rounding out the completeness of the meal. Like Controllers, they don’t embrace unstructured environments, and they tend to take things one step further, hewing to conventional wisdom and tried-and-true processes over the new and untested. When asked to pick a side, Hangers-On will most likely pick the middle.

No one group can be considered the purest “entrepreneurial group,” but Movers and Shakers and Experimenters may be the closest. They have the strongest tendency to be internally driven, in control and bridle the most at others telling them what to do.

As we’ve seen time and again, unbridled innovation is a wonderful thing. But it’s what comes next that’s arguably more important. To get an innovative idea off the ground, it’s crucial to have a cast of characters who can keep that tension between risk-taking and reality at a healthy balance midway between the sky and the ground — where innovation can thrive.  So what do you think your natural place is in the innovation team?  How would others see you in this team?

“What type of innovator are  you?”

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Sharon Davidson
Organisational development professional specialising in personal, team and whole organisation improvement. Full range of OD tools and techniques available including: Belbin team role analysis; learning style inventories; 360 degree feedback; cultural assessments; personality psychometrics; strategic planning and workshop facilitation. (This list is not exhaustive!)

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  • Joanne Carroll says:

    I’m a Controller. In other psychosymetric tests I’ve done, I’ve been categorised as a Finisher, so this rings true for me!

  • Aresko says:

    It’s the accountant in you Joanne 🙂 hugely important to any entrepreneur to keep them grounded in reality. I have one on my team currently and we work together brilliantly. He does the numbers, I do the words, between us we have ideas that work – perfect combo and he’s one of the people I enjoy working with the most, despite us being opposites!

  • Sarah Gant says:

    I recognise bits of me insome of these profiles. I know I have controlling tendencies but I think that’s more because details stress me and trying to control everything is my way of coping with that! My practical, logical side means I’m grounded in the reality so could be a hanger on. I can see the sharing with others and perfectionist elements of the experimenter, to but I’m not persistent enough to really be one of those. On the other hand, I’m extremely uncomfortable being in the front so I’m not a mover and shaker and I never devoted enough time to finding mentors and developing my own profile to be a star pupil. Sounds as if I was in completely the wrong job at my former employer and it’s obvious why I’m now where I am!!!

  • Aresko says:

    Isn’t it amazing how long it takes us to be courageous enough to end up doing something we love Sarah? I can definitely see hanger on tendencies – this is not a bad thing despite its title at all mind you! I love hangers on, couldn’t function without them as they get things done 🙂

  • Peggy Edwards says:

    I also see bits of me in each of these; certainly like to experiment but also drive things forward (I get very frustrated when things are slow) intersting considering I am more risk adverse than a risk taker and therefore see the controller in me. I suppose it all depends on context – in my current work environment i am very controlling as I have to be, with a previous life it was very innovated and I was really driven in that direction. Confusing or what?

  • Aresko says:

    Bit of a hybrid Peggy? Thats not unusual when you are a specialist in a generalist team. If you were in a highly entrepreneurial environment, one that demanded ideas and innovations on a daily basis to survive, then one of these would need to be more highly developed than any other. So not surprising that there is no strong preference for any one, but you see bits of several in your general approach.

  • Alison Crawford says:

    I can see Mover and Shaker and a bit a of Star Pupil in me. I love being where it’s all happening, involved in the next big thing. The bit I most identify with in the Star Pupil (other than the origin of the name) is being able to make the most of people’s talents. It’s probably why I am loving managing staff more than I ever imagined, and working with a team of talented people (as I do right now) is brilliant because I know that the sky is the limit.

  • Aresko says:

    Ok Alison, so you have similar issues to Peggy here notwithstanding the fact that you crave a more creative environment to work within. So that’s where we’ll start in our mentoring journey, i.e. what can you do to either make your own environment more entrepreneurial and what is the appetite for this change in your team?

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