Personality Approaches to Innovation
 
Sylvia Lane

In our work with clients as coaches and consultants, we often offer the option of completing the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) assessment tool, which identifies sixteen basic personality types to help individuals learn about their personality. Learning your personality type helps individuals work toward their goals in a manner which more comfortably suits their own strengths and preferences, and make changes to their typical approach to better interact and enhance results with their team members, clients, and others. Understanding personality preferences is an important frame of reference as it relates to our approach to innovation that I will explore in this blog.

Damian Killen and Gareth Williams define innovation as “the implementation of ideas” in their booklet, Introduction to Type and Innovation. Creativity and generating new ideas are required, and often the associated definition of innovation; however, the generation of ideas without implementing them provides little value in new results at work or in life. Both implementation and creativity are required.

Killen and Gareth see innovation as a process in which we begin with the generation and categorization of ideas. They define four basic categories of ideas and attitudes that are attractive to different personality types related to the process of innovation:

  • Efficiency attitude – which the Sensing, those who gather information from their five senses and facts, and Judging, those who prefer a more organized approach to work and life, personality types value
    • When innovating, the focus is doing the right thing the right way and based on precise information, timing and approach
  • Refining attitude – which the Sensing, those who gather information from their five senses and facts, and Perceiving, those who prefer a more flexible, fluid approach to work and life, personality types value
    • When innovating, the focus is on doing things better by collecting as much information as possible to refine current realities
  • Adopting attitude – which the Intuitive, those who gather information from their “sixth sense” or their gut, and Judging, those who prefer a more organized approach to work and life, personality types value
    • When innovating, they leverage what others are doing, borrowing outside ideas and applying them within their company structure in relationship to their importance and value.
  • Different attitude – which the Intuitive, those who gather information from their “sixth sense” or their gut, and Perceiving, those who prefer a more flexible, fluid approach to work and life, personality types value
    • When innovating, they explore what no one else is doing by connecting people and ideas with general possibilities that have not been done before.

All different personality types approach a common innovation process regardless of these attitudes or personality preferences. The innovation process is broken down into four phases:

  1. Define – identify what is being solved
  2. Discover – look at a variety of ideas that can address what is being solved (typically through a form of brainstorming)
  3. Decide – reducing the number of options for finding a solution
  4. Deliver – implementation of the option settled upon

Each of us move through the innovation process differently depending upon our personality type and our own personal interests, values, and strengths. Killen and Gareth encourage considering your own strengths and tapping into other’s attitudes and approaches that may not be as natural for you. For example, in step one when defining the issue, if you have a “different” attitude, be sure that you have not been too ambiguous and while those who approach innovation with an “efficiency” or “refining” attitude are cautioned not to overlook other ways that the issue could be defined. When discovering alternatives, be sure to seek ideas outside of your personal comfort zone. Those who prefer an organized approach to work and life will leverage their strength as implementers and will aid in defining a clear decision for a course of action with a specific time frame for completing all of the steps.

When you leverage the diversity and strengths of the various personality types, you will enjoy a creative process that generates new ideas and solutions and develops a concrete implementation plan. How do you tap into the strengths of your team in your innovation process? What other “innovation attitudes” could you embrace in another team member or practice yourself?

With Warm Regards,

Sylvia

P.S. If you would like to complete the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® assessment or to get more information, please contact me for help in getting started!

 

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