Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Propensity to Innovation

Effects of Attitude on Innovation

Ideas are the source of improvements, innovations and inventions. However, some ideas may take more effort to generate, are difficult to come by, and more valuable than others.

Classes of Ideas

Ideas could be categorised in the four classes. These are:

·         Efficient Ideas

This class of ideas helps us do the right thing and do them the right way. These ideas do not call us to challenge or substantially change the organisation’s current processes. They usually lead to incremental changes and are unlikely to be noticed by people outside of the organisation.

·         Refining Ideas

This class of ideas helps us do things better. We want to know if ‘there is a better way of achieving the same output?’ It looks at the means and not the end itself. Since only the ways a service or product is delivered are changed, people external of the organisation may not be aware of the change.

·         Adopting Ideas

This class of ideas helps us do things in the ways others are doing. There is no shame in borrowing ideas from other organisations or industries, and adapting them in our organisations. Many of such ideas are known to us as best practices and they inform us of the proven ideas that usually work in the structures of a given context.

·         Different Ideas

This class of ideas helps us do things in ways that no one else has done before. These are truly radical ideas that have not been thought of before or have not been successfully implemented in the past. These ideas are usually the most difficult to execute since they are the first of their kind and they demand radical changes in the organisations. However, once they are successfully implemented, they are also the ones that deliver the most benefit and value to our organisations.

Innovation Process

Innovation does not exist out of the blue. It goes through phases of identifying and turning ideas into innovations that change our current circumstances.

A typical innovation process usually has four generic phases. These are:

·         Define Phase

Problem is defined as a state of difficulty, and  goal of innovation is to change this state. Therefore, if we can find the problem, we could find the opportunities where innovations could become handy. This kind of problems is called propportunities.

·   To do this, we must have a good appreciation our surrounding environment and clear understanding of the problems that exist in this space. In this phase, we generate the definitions and specifications of the problem, and reach a general consensus on them before making attempts to solve it.

·         Discover Phase

The source of Innovation is ideas.

There are two rules in the Discover Phase. These are suppressing our judging faculty temporarily and spending sufficient of time in generating alternative options. In this way, we give exploration a chance to populate the discourse with enough of ideas for the next phase of the innovation process.

·         Decide Phase

All ideas have the potential of creating a breakthrough, but some point, we will have to decide on the idea that is most likely to succeed at a cost that is most manageable. The flexibility and range for executing this phase depends a lot on the quality and quantity of ideas generated in the previous phase.

·         Deliver Phase

There is no breakthrough when there is no innovation.

The instrument for change is by making the innovation a reality; by creating and delivering the solution to users who need it. No all innovations will deliver immediate breakthroughs, and will need us to make refinements to them. To do this, we need to revisit the preceding phases to identify the sources of failure.

Choices and Personality

The choices we make when participating in innovation can be influenced by our personalities.

In brief, there are two basic kinds of cognitive ‘functions’ which guide the way we:

·         Take in information (Sensing (S) or iNtuiting (N)) to understand things around us, and

·         Make decisions (Thinking (T) or Feeling (F)) based on the information we have gathered.

There are also two different temperaments which we exhibit. We either show:

·       Extroversion (E), where we operate in the external world of behaviours, actions, people, and things, or

·         Introversion (I), where we operate in the internal world of ideas and reflection.

There is a ‘Lifestyle’ dimension in this model. We either have a preference for:

·         Judging (J), where we want things to be planned, stable and organised, or

·         Perceiving (P), where we like to ‘go with the flow’ and respond to situations as they appear.

Each of these preferences points to a character in the alphabet, which in combination forms a four-character code that informs us about our personality.

Personality and Innovation

Some people are more capable of generating a class of ideas and find it easier to navigate through a particular phase of the Innovation Process. We call this inclination our ‘Innovation Attitude’.

The 2nd and 4th character in our personality type indicator code inform us of our innovation attitude. This is the preference that influences why we are attracted a type of ideas, how we define a problem, and how we are likely to act during the innovation process. The code containing the:

·        'SJ' character suggests the innovation attitude of 'Efficiency'.

Precise information and timing is critical to SJians. For them, Sensing is introverted. They draw and use information from their own knowledge and experience bases to assess and judge their situations. They are likely to seek innovative ideas that create greater efficiencies and improve effectiveness.

·        'SP' character suggests the innovation attitude of 'Refining'.

SPians are pre-disposed to experience the world with their senses. For them, Sensing is extroverted. In wanting to engage the people around them and to feel the variety of experiences their surroundings have to offer, they will operate in this external space to collect as much information as possible and respond to the situation accordingly. They are drawn to innovative ideas that can help them refine and adapt their current realities to continue enjoying these experiences. However, for them it also involves not doing something.

·       'NJ' character suggests the innovation attitude of 'Adopting'.

NJians understand that the time they need to convert their internal ideas to external realities is scarce, and will plan and organise ways to execute their insights to reduce loss. For them, Intuition is introverted, and they are likely to sort ideas internally, especially in terms of their importance and urgency to what is valued. Typically, NJians will borrow ideas from outside their sphere of influence, and adopt what can be applied, and innovate what cannot be accordingly.

·        'NP' character suggests the innovation attitude of 'Different'.

Connecting people to emerging potential concepts and ideas to generate possibilities is what keeps the NPians going. For them, Intuition is extroverted, and they see alternatives as life bloods in a world of interactions. In this space, NPians seek out ideas that are original – that are different from what are already out there are better informed about the potential we can tap on and the choices we can make while navigating through our innovative organisation and its processes.

Successful innovation teams have a healthy balance of these four innovation attitudes in its members. This way, each member, whose innovation attitude is need the most at a particular stage of developing an innovation, could be called to come forward to lead the teams and seek the breakthrough they need to move the project forward.

This article was 1st written on 8 Aug 2012.
Copyright 2012. Anthony Mok. All Rights Reserved.

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