"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.