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Type and Innovation >
Type and Innovation
Written by Shawn Bakker
Damian Killen and Gareth Williams have used the MBTI
instrument to help organizations and individuals harness creativity and innovation. Their work has clarified that different stages of the innovation process require different strengths, and that personality type can be used to identify some of these strengths.
While innovation involves more than personality type, type preferences can be used to explore many issues related to the development and implementation of ideas. Killen and Williams describe what they call the “Innovation Attitude” which is the 2nd and 4th letters of the type code: SJ, SP, NJ and NP. These four Innovation Attitudes influence how you take in information and implement your ideas.
Each of the Innovation Attitudes makes different contributions to the innovation process. They have different priorities, find different situations comfortable or challenging, and have natural characteristics that can limit their innovation potential. Each group also needs different types of support to be at their best in the innovation process, and also requires different coaching tips.
NP – Different Ideas
People with NP preferences are drawn to ideas that no one else has thought of or implemented. They are attracted to the prospect of doing things that others are not. The innovation challenge for NP’s is recognizing that solutions are useful when they are implemented, not when they are discovered.
NJ – Adopting Ideas
Those with NJ preferences collect and connect ideas from a wide range of settings. They like to adopt the innovation and original ideas of others. The innovation challenge for NJ’s is to learn to explain their ideas so that everyone gets the full picture.
SP – Refining Ideas
People with SP preferences like to draw on previous ideas that fit well with their current situation and adapt to their current activities rather than change them dramatically. The innovation challenge for SP’s is recognizing that it is impossible to know everything in advance, requiring them to take what may feel like a leap-of-faith.
SJ – Efficiency Ideas
Individuals with SJ preferences are naturally on the lookout for incremental changes that improve their effectiveness and efficiency. They want to find the best way to do what they are doing. The innovation challenge for SJ’s is being patient when generating ideas and delaying judgment on what will work.
You can use this information when consulting with organizations or coaching people on innovation by linking their natural style with the requirements of the innovation process, and helping identify strengths and areas for improvement. Killen and Williams have co-authored Introduction to Type and Innovation, which provides great information for connecting innovation and personality type. It also describes in detail the strengths and blind spots each of the 16 types brings to the innovation process.
To find out more about Type and Innovation see
Introduction to Type
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