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November 2011

Discovering Your Type

"Why is innovation in everyone's DNA and not in every organization's DNA?" According to Darwinism, the weak eventually die and the strong, most adaptable ultimately survive. However, if that is the case, why hasn't the spirit of constant improvement effectively spread throughout the business world?

We discussed this topic and more at the recent Stage-Gate Innovation Summit in Miami a few weeks ago. The moderator of this panel was Damian Killen, managing director for Thrive, an international human resources consultancy based in Dublin. He has spent more than 20 years researching and speaking about the application of the Myers Briggs Type Indicator.

The Myers Briggs Type Indicator was developed by a mother-daughter team who built upon the findings of Carl Jung. The key principles to remember with their test are that while humans are all dissimilar, they vary in comparable ways. Understanding this concept, patterns of behavior can be determined.

Killen, with his lilting Irish accent and his sarcastic wit, proved to be an extremely entertaining speaker. He defined innovation as the implementation of creative ideas and thus, an innovative organization is one that is constantly applying ideas. According to Killen, true innovation comes through gathering and utilizing people's different strengths. The understanding and use of personality type theory can help organizations determine where, when and how best to utilize their people in order to achieve the best results.

Although there are four dichotomies, for the purposes of Killen's presentation, he focused only on Sensing-Intuition (S-N) and Judging-Perceiving (J-P) as the other two (Thinking-Feeling and Extraversion-Introversion) were found to not have a significant impact on innovation behaviors. Sensing-Intuition pertains to how a person takes in information while Judging-Perceiving deals with how someone sees the outside world.

  • Sensing (S): focus is on the present, notices details, practical
  • Intuition (N): focus is on the future, notices patterns, imaginative
  • Judging (J): stickler for following plans and schedules, likes closure, decisive
  • Perceiving (P): flexible, energized by last minute pressure, likes to keep options open

The breakout is approximately 48% SJ, 27% SP, 8% NJ, and 17% NP. You can find all of the details of this principle in Killen's book, Introduction to Type and Innovation, co-written with Gareth Williams. The basic principle is that SJs strive for outcomes and perform best in the delivery phase, SPs enjoy simplifying matters and perform best in the definition phase, NJs align ideas to needs and perform best in the decision-making phase, and lastly the NPs like to develop and generate ideas and perform best in the discovery phase. This is not to say that a personality could not do well in another area or that someone's persona cannot change over time or in differing circumstances. After all, the Myers Briggs assessment is concerned with discovering a person's preferences and does not say anything about their intelligence or abilities.

By merely understanding that people have diverse personalities and thus different strengths, organizations can build the most effective teams for their projects and rotate people depending on where the project is in its lifecycle.

Software's Role in Innovation

An Excerpt from "New Insights for Driving Innovation in Product Development" Webcast

This is part three of my three-part series on a recent Planview hosted Webcast titled "New Insights for Driving Innovation in Product Development: Is Your Organization a Lean, Mean, Innovating Machine?" featuring Sanjeev Pal, Research Manager of Product, Project and Portfolio Management Solutions at IDC, and me. Previously, I summarized our discussion of market trends and innovation. Now, let's talk about the role software can play in product innovation.

Software as a Solution

Sanjeev recommends that companies not only use industry-specific software, but software that understands the company's processes. Generic software won't be as effective or cost-efficient. Also, this software should be used in conjunction with the lean and operational improvement principles he discussed.

We then highlighted the role software can play in product innovation. Software can manage the mass amount of internal and external ideas companies receive. It links ideas to a product. Of course, not every idea is feasible within the current marketplace. Software allows companies to save these unused ideas for the future to continue the innovation process.

PLM and how product management software can help companies throughout the entire process was our next topic. Sanjeev illustrated steps within the product lifecycle related to product innovation:

  • Idea management
  • Product management
  • Virtual simulation of product
  • Product analytics
  • Supply management
  • Manufacturing process optimization
  • After market support

Although the process may vary, there should be a constant flow throughout the product lifecycle of innovation and collaboration. Also, this process doesn't just apply to manufacturers. Product development organizations want to know how to foster innovation and track it throughout the product life cycle as well.

Finally, Sanjeev offered his closing thoughts and recommendations. He predicts that the sluggish economy will continue and has already become the "new normal." Even if you implement several lean principles and practices, if you don't innovate, your company won't have a very secure future. He reiterates that this doesn't have to mean creating a brand new, game-changing product, but rather can occur through incremental innovation.

To hear more, listen to the podcasts on this topic at Software as a Solution Part 1 and Software as a Solution Part 2.

To learn more about the topics I've covered in this series, listen to the complete Webcast New Insights on Driving Innovation.

Related post: The Business of Innovation

The Business of Innovation

An Excerpt from "New Insights for Driving Innovation in Product Development" Webcast

This is part two of my three-part series on a recent Planview hosted webcast titled "New Insights for Driving Innovation in Product Development: Is Your Organization a Lean, Mean, Innovating Machine?" featuring Sanjeev Pal, Research Manager of Product, Project and Portfolio Management Solutions at IDC, and me. Previously, I shared our discussion on trends in the marketplace. Now, let's look at examples of innovation.

Industry Examples of Innovation

Sanjeev discussed three technology companies to illustrate how both software and hardware trends are causing companies to change the way they operate in order to be more flexible and innovative.

  1. Google®

    Google, a "constant innovator," as Sanjeev calls it, has gone from simply being a search engine to offering services such as Gmail and Google Plus, as well as the Android operating system. Google Plus isn't that different from other social networks, but is a small step towards the social network paradigm of the future. Being innovative doesn't necessarily mean you have to reinvent the wheel. Innovation is really when a company takes an existing product and modifies it to make it more unique and desirable.

  2. Microsoft®

    The second company he covered was Microsoft, who is currently trying to redefine itself. Is it a hardware company or a software company? It's also facing a dilemma as to whether it should abandon Windows and develop an entirely new operating system or if it should just improve its existing product to be more like the competition. While Microsoft has an innovative product in the Xbox Kinect, one innovative product can't keep a company profitable for the long haul.

  3. Apple®

    Lastly, he discussed Apple, who like Google, has evolved from simply offering computers, to having multiple product lines. He highlights the iPad to illustrate how Apple has used innovation to distinguish its product from the rest of the tablets in the marketplace. He also discussed the impact of the loss of Steve Jobs.

Sanjeev listed various techniques that organizations have used since the 1970s to streamline operational processes for improved efficiency. The techniques include:

  • Just-in-time
  • Total quality management
  • Six Sigma
  • Lead production
  • Lean Six Sigma

Companies need to be constantly making operational improvements. The faster you can collect innovative ideas and determine feasibility, the quicker it will generate products people want. Not only will it improve the products, but the process to facilitate innovation consistently.

To hear more, listen to the podcast on this topic.

My final installment of this series will cover the role software can play in product innovation. We encourage you to listen to the complete webcast to hear Sanjeev cover these topics in more detail. Listen to the complete webcast.

Related post: Trends in Innovation