There’s a common misconception that “ideas people” are the innovators within an organisation. In reality, a broad range of innovators are key for an innovation ecosystem to flourish.
So who holds the responsibility for innovation within an organisation? The answer, of course, is everyone.
However, that doesn’t mean that all members of your team need to approach innovation in the same way. In fact, identifying the different styles of innovation, and subsequently the roles that best suit each individual, can be one of the best ways to strengthen your end-to-end innovation process throughout your business.
Sometimes an idea is nearly there but just needs a little readjustment and a push in the right direction. Following this adjustment and renegotiation, you’re in a position to reassess the idea and make a decision on whether to pursue it further.
The purpose of this blog post is to help you understand the primary types of innovators you’ll find in your organisation throughout the innovation process, and where they can be your best asset.
In this blog post you’ll discover:
- The seven types of innovators in your innovation ecosystem
- Their roles in the innovation process
- How to cultivate innovative thinking
The seven types of innovatorsWhen it comes to an individual’s approach to innovation, there are seven key “personality” types:
This person is extremely good at identifying problems and challenging the status quo. They’re observant and empathetic to the pitfalls of something not working the way it should. They know things can be done better. Although they may not know how, their tendency to be vocal about their dismay ensures the problems they have identified are shared.
They value the team over the individual. Collaborators break down silos to form multi-disciplinary conversations and dissolve traditional boundaries within organisations. They create opportunities for team members to assume new roles and are key to the iteration of ideas prior to validation and execution. They’re vocal with supportive critique, all with the intention of generating the best possible outcome.
3. Idea Generators
Idea Generators are experts at identifying solutions to problems that need solving. They might have ideas relentlessly or excel at finding solutions to specific problems. They can be found widely within your organisation, across all levels and departments. They’re naturally curious, typically with a great desire to fix things, although they might lack a focus on the detail. Idea Generators are the first – and crucial – step in your innovation process.
The Validator has a strong knowledge base and sense of curiosity; they provide the fundamental information that determines whether an idea proceeds to the next stage. They’re able to quickly identify an idea and navigate it to the right people and decision makers, saving time and speeding up the execution of new ideas.
The Socialiser facilitates innovation through distribution of knowledge within the organisation; they understand the bigger picture and are usually in a role that enables them to work horizontally across all departments. They’re capable of moving opportunities forward, drawing out the strength of each team and getting things done. Socialisers are outstanding communicators and networkers within the firm.
Neglectors are present throughout the entire innovation process. They refuse to participate in or acknowledge the innovation process, from problem acknowledgement to implementation of ideas. They vary from management to C-suite. They’re still an important group of people as their demographic quickly helps to identify reasons behind their lack of participation.
Although Inquisitors are wrongly perceived to be innovation blockers, they’re crucial to your Innovation Framework. The Inquisitor breaks down and challenges ideas to eliminate any points of failure that may arise. They’re full of wisdom and very detail-oriented. While they may come across as negative on the surface, their intentions are to reduce failure.
Roles and responsibilities in your innovation process
It’s not as simple as giving each personality type an individual responsibility that suits them perfectly. Instead, the strength of your innovation process relies on how well you facilitate interaction – both positive and negative – between these personalities throughout.
Innovation has to be a dynamic and ongoing conversation that utilises everyone’s strengths (and weaknesses) to achieve a common goal: strengthening and evolving your business.
You’ll encounter all seven types of innovators throughout your innovation journey. They typically appear at multiple points of the process.
Here’s an example:
Idea Generators share an idea, either from the identification of a problem that was shared by a Challenger, or a non-specific idea about an improvement, new product or service. This idea is shared with Collaborators and goes through various iterations before being passed on to the Validators to go through to the next stage. Once a strong foundation has been built, the Socialisers communicate the idea to move the innovation to a point of execution.
Throughout this process, there will be various interjections from the Inquisitors to positively critique whether an innovation is ready to progress. You’ll also see Neglectors preventing innovations from moving forward by not taking the necessary action and, as a consequence, potentially blocking the approval process.
Cultivating innovative thinking
Let’s end by discussing some tips for cultivating a stronger innovative culture for people to build on their innovation profile.
Leadership teams can drive a more innovative culture throughout the innovation lifecycle by engaging with every idea that passes through the framework and providing effective feedback.
A visible presence from senior management throughout the process strengthens confidence among employees that any form of participation is greatly supported by senior executives.
Acknowledging and rewarding ideas and participation will not only improve the culture of innovation but will increase confidence among the team, driving a higher level of engaged participants, which will ultimately produce the best innovation results.