Close Menu

    Apr 24, 2015    |

Type and Innovation

Damian Killen and Gareth Williams have used the MBTI® instrument to help organizations and individuals harness creativity and innovation. Their work has clarified that rather than some types being inherently more creative than others (a common belief), different stages of the innovation process require different strengths; therefore, all types are important to a creative and viable new product, service or outcome.

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 reflect 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 how you go about implementing the resulting ideas.

Each of the Innovation Attitudes makes different contributions to the innovation process, and all are valid and useful. 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 therefore, some tips may come in handy in helping people and teams reach their innovative potential:

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 different things that others may be as inclined toward. 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 creative and original ideas of others. The innovation challenge for NJ’s is to learn to explain their ideas in a realistic way.

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 originality doesn’t always align with experience, requiring them to take what may feel to be 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 areas for improvement. Additionally, one can use preferences to highlight the need for appreciating other perspectives and collaborating productively to ensure the best possible creative outcome. 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.