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  • 9 Ways to Manage People Better with TIPS

    Have you ever heard about the “war for talent”? The term appeared first in a 1997 research study by McKinsey and was popularized in the 2001 book of the same title. In The War for Talent, Michaels et al. argue that companies have to navigate an increasingly competitive landscape for recruiting and retaining talented employees. Demographic shifts (primarily in the United States and Europe, but also in Asia) and increasing demand for highly skilled knowledge workers are responsible for the predicted talent shortage. In response to the call to win in The War for Talent, the talent management industry gained momentum and grew in popularity.

    Twenty years later, we may ask in hindsight: Have many organizations suffered from a shortage of talented people during the past two decades? Indeed, companies face difficulties to find enough talents for specific roles in certain industries (e.g., IT developers). However, the “war for talent” has proved to be a myth. In most areas and countries, talents abound. So, if we’re not short of talent, what’s the real challenge? Most organizations are unable to recognize the real “personal assets” of their human capital   — and how to best use them. Here we’ll explore how human resources manager can better manage human capital along the talent management cycle with the help of TIPS, Thinkergy’s cognitive profiling tool for business and innovation.

    Introduction: The talent management lifecycle

    Talent management aims to anticipate an organization’s requirements for human capital. Then, strategic plans plot how to meet those talent needs effectively. Talent management includes all activities to plan, recruit, onboard, manage, develop, reward, and set free talented managers and employees.

    The literature on human capital management presents these key activities along with a lifecycle model: the talent management lifecycle. While various concepts differ in detail, there is a widespread consensus on certain stages that talents pass through while working for an organization.  In the following, I outline how TIPS can support the talent management efforts of the human capital function. Thereby, I move along the various stages of the talent lifecycle and its three main objectives (recruit—retain—release talent).

    Talent management aims to anticipate an organization’s requirements for human capital. Then, strategic plans plot how to meet those talent needs effectively. Talent management includes all activities to plan, recruit, onboard, manage, develop, reward, and set free talented managers and employees.

    The literature on human capital management presents these key activities along with a lifecycle model: the talent management lifecycle. While various concepts differ in detail, there is a widespread consensus on certain stages that talents pass through while working for an organization.  In the following, I outline how TIPS can support the talent management efforts of the human capital function. Thereby, I move along the various stages of the talent lifecycle and its three main objectives (recruit—retain—release talent).

    Stage 1: Talent planning

    Talent planning is a strategic approach that involves identifying key positions and roles, understanding critical skills requirements and gaps, and creating transition and succession plans to keep critical roles filled with top players today and in the future. The practice encompasses the assessment of an organization’s current level of talent, predicting the future talent needs necessary to achieve its strategic objectives, and then creating corresponding action strategies for recruiting, retaining and releasing talents.

    TIPS can be a valuable conceptual tool to help talent planners gauge an appropriate cognitive mix in an organization’s talent pool. Depending on the industry and the evolutionary phase in the business cycle, a company or strategic business unit needs more talents with specific personality profiles and related cognitive styles. For example, banks or accounting firms have a greater need for quantitative, analytical thinkers, while agencies in the creative industries need a high proportion of qualitative creative thinkers. With regards to the business cycle phase, a fast-growing company needs to focus on bringing in more operational knowledge workers to solidify its backend, while a company threatened by digital transformation needs to look for agile, creative talents who drive change as the organization begins a new business cycle to avoid disruption and creative destruction.

    Stage 2: Talent acquisition

    Talent acquisition is all about hiring the right person for an open position. How can TIPS help organizations to acquire the right talents who cognitively fit the requirements of a particular job (and prevent them from hiring the wrong people)? In a TIPS talent acquisition project, we use a gamified approach to help a human resources team translate the job description for each open position into compatible TIPS profiles. Typically, every role has a primary TIPS profile representing an ideal cognitive fit and 1-3 secondary profiles that are possibles.

    Then, human resources invite all shortlisted candidates to take the TIPS online test to determine their TIPS profile. Next, we check for the cognitive job fit of each candidate. When the recruitment committee members conduct the final job interviews with the shortlisted top candidates, they can ask specific questions to validate the cognitive suitability of each candidate further. Finally, they decide on the best candidate considering all position-specific competencies (knowledge, skills, expertise, and cognitive profile).

    Would you like to get more details on a TIPS-empowered talent recruitment process? Check out an earlier article titled How to hire the right talents with TIPS.

    Stage 3: Talent onboarding

    When a new talent joins an organization, they often first go through an orientation program that helps to familiarize them with their new organization. After the initial “honeymoon period”, however, many talents are left alone in living up to the expectation of their new boss and colleagues.

    One onboarding approach to help new talents to integrate into their new organization successfully, and avoid disillusionment, is to assign them a mentor. Here, TIPS can help to ensure that the mentor has a similar, or ideally, the same TIPS profile as a new talent. Why is this useful?

    People with the same or similar profiles and cognitive preferences tend to like each other. They share similar viewpoints and cognitive styles. Hence, a TIPS-compatible mentor can share with her mentee how to effectively navigate the company culture (the real one, not its public relations version) while staying true to one’s natural talents and personality.

    Stage 4: Talent (re-)alignment

    One of the best ways for an organization to retain their top talents is by putting them in a role that they love and can do well. One sentence captures the essence of talent (re-)alignment: Put the right person into the right job. 

    Organizations that ensure hiring the right new talents for a vacant position tend to comply with this maxim (in stage 2: talent acquisition). Yet, many organizations have put a significant number of those “right people” who are already on board in a “wrong job”. Either they work in a (slightly) wrong role within the right work team, or in a wrong business function. How can TIPS help here? 

    TIPS suggests what “ecosystems”  (business functions, industries, and organizational types) fit the natural talents of each profile type. So, invite all your incumbent talents to take the TIPS online personality test. Then, check how closely the role that each person works in fits their TIPS profile and preferred cognitive styles. Next, discuss the results with each talent and their manager. If desired, realign the roles and responsibilities of all those “right people” who are  “in the wrong job” to set free their full talents. Do you want more details on how this works?  Take a look at an earlier blog post article titled How to put the right people into the right job.

    Stage 5: Talent management

    Different talents vary in the way they prefer to be managed by their superior (team manager or senior executive). These differences go back to different personal preferences in cognitive styles that relate to the four TIPS styles (to think, work, interact and live). If you’re a manager, some members of your team may prefer:

    • taking on more quantitative, analytical duties, while others prefer more qualitative, creative work assignments (thinking style). 
    • working on longer, conceptual projects, while others enjoy ticking off operational tasks on a To Do-list (work style). 
    • you to make your case, and decisions, based on evidence and hard facts, while others want you to communicate and make decisions in a more considerate, consensual ways (interaction style).
    • a work climate and management style that is more formal, disciplined and on schedule, while others are more casual, free-flowing and flexible on time (lifestyle).

    The article Manage people better by relating to their personal styles discusses these differences in how people like to be managed in greater detail.

    Stage 6: Talent development

    Talent development aims to provide appropriate Learning & Development (L&D) programs that empower your talents to grow, perform better, and prepare them for their next career step. Thereby, it’s essential to move away from one-size-fits-all L&D programs to more individualized upskilling approaches. Such a personalized approach aligns with a fundamental principle of TIPS: “Make everyone play on the natural strengths of their TIPS profiles. Use the other profiles to compensate for one’s weaknesses.” 

    Do you see the value in this credo? Then focus the upskill training initiatives for your talents on developing their strengths further, and not on eradicating their weaknesses. Read the article Who should be trained in what?, which explains the underlying rationale in greater detail, and also suggests sample training courses that most talents of a particular TIPS profile type find appealing. 

    Stage 7: Talent performance

    Different types of talents tend to excel at producing certain kind of outputs. For example, a person who is good at closing deals typically is poor at writing code. 

    TIPS can help you understand who has a talent for producing what kinds of outputs. The target outputs that come naturally easy to a person reside in their talent sweet spot. So, if you’ve already put the right person into the right job (talent acquisition and/or realignment)), then that talent can produce the target outputs related to this position easily, effortlessly and enjoyably. 

    An earlier blog article titled How to boost work productivity and performance with TIPS outlines examples of primary and secondary target outputs for each of the 11 TIPS profiles, as well as the process steps of effective performance management for your talents.

    Stage 8: Talent leadership

    Who is the best talent to lead a business unit — or even the entire organization as CEO? It depends on where in the business cycle a particular business unit, or the whole corporation, locates right now, and whether it’s ready to move to the next development stage. 

    As a company grows, it’s leadership focus shifts: from creating and launching products, to marketing and sales growth, to solidifying operations, and finally systematizing the entire business. As explained in an earlier article, specific TIPS profiles come to the fore at different development stages as a company gradually evolves from a start-up venture to a large or even multinational corporation. 

    For example, nowadays, many corporations are threatened by digital transformation and new technologies (especially in some industries such as banking or automotive). They need to start a new creative cycle to avoid the fate of creative destruction. The corresponding TIPS profile to best drive such agile, innovative and disruptive change —either as leader of a new business unit or even as the organization’s CEO— is an Ideator (and not a Systematizer who tends to occupy executive chairs in established organizations). 

    Stage 9: Talent transition

    At some point, talents depart from an organization. In the past, most people stayed with one organization from recruitment until retirement. Nowadays, the end of one talent lifecycle is the beginning of a new one. 

    In some cases, talents transition into a new organization by their own volition to hike up their compensation or career prospects. In other cases, however, organizational restructuring and automation of business processes force organizations to make some of their talents redundant.

    Here, TIPS can become an invaluable tool to ensure that departing talents can smoothly transition into a new role or career. Companies may offer their “outplaced” talents to take a TIPS online test. TIPS allows them to learn more about their personality profile and preferred cognitive styles. (For some, it may be the first time in their career that they’ve got the opportunity to take a cognitive profiling test). By gaining greater self-awareness of their TIPS profile, departing talents can align their next career move to a proper role, industry, organizational type, and business cycle stage, regardless of whether they sign on at a new company or consider starting their own business.

    Conclusion: TIPS empowers talent management along the entire lifecycle

    TIPS can provide organizations with greater talent awareness. Our cognitve profiling tool can support human resources managers to more effectively manage human capital along all stages of the talent management lifecycle. Knowledge of a person’s TIPS profile allows you to:

    a) first, recruit the right talents;

    b) then, retain them longer by aligning their job placements, L&D initiatives and performance contributions to their TIPS profile, and by managing them in harmony with their preferred cognitive styles; and

    c) finally, release them in style into a successful next career.  

    • Are you a leader who would like to learn more about how TIPS can help you manage your human capital? 
    • Are you curious about what’s your TIPS profile? Buy your TIPS online profiling test coupon for $89 now.
    • Would you like to find out more about our TIPS training? Contact us to tell us more. 

    © Dr. Detlef Reis 2019

  • Which of the 11 TIPS Profiles are You?

    TIPS has 11 distinct innovator profiles that play on one or more of the four TIPS bases (theories, ideas, people, systems). How do you profile in TIPS?

    TIPS is Thinkergy's new cognitive people profiling tool for business and innovation. When would you like to get TIPS-ed and take our TIPS online test to reveal your innovator profile?


  • How to Make the Most of Your Assets (And Limit Your Liabilities)

    What comes to your mind when you hear the terms assets and liabilities? Most businesspeople think of a corporate balance sheet. But as a person, have you ever noticed that you have assets and liabilities, too? Here, I am not talking about those financial positions you personally own or owe someone. I refer to your personal strengths and weaknesses that help or hinder you making positive contributions with your natural talent and preferred cognitive styles that we track with TIPS Innovation Profiles, Thinkergy’s innovation people profiling method. After all, each of the 11 TIPS profiles comes with a unique mix of assets and liabilities. Today, let’s discuss how you can make the most of your assets (and limit your liabilities) with TIPS.

    What are your assets? What are your liabilities?

    The term “asset” can be defined as “a useful or valuable thing, person, or quality”. From a financial or business point of view, asset can also mean a “property owned by a person or company, regarded as having value and valuable to meet debts, commitments, or legacies”. 

    On the other hand, “liability” can be defined as “a quality or feature regarded as a disadvantage or fault”, or as “a person or thing whose presence or behavior is likely to cause embarrassment or put one at a disadvantage”. 

    When we put these key ideas together, we can say that your personal assets are those good, beneficial qualities that you mainly use to create value and make a positive difference to yourself, your business, and society. In contrast, your liabilities are those disadvantageous behaviors and qualities that set you back and prevent you from realizing your full potential. Together, your positive and negative qualities form your personal balance sheet. 

    How do your assets and liabilities relate to TIPS?

    TIPS profiles people with the help of the four TIPS Bases (Theories, Ideas, People, Systems) and the four TIPS Styles (to think, work, interact, and live). Both the TIPS Bases and Styles feed the questionnaire in the TIPS Online Profiling Test, and they also span the TIPS Profiling Map that provides the coordinates to position the 11 TIPS Innovator Profiles (based on the test results).

    Each of the 11 TIPS profiles (All-Rounder, Coach, Conceptualizer, Experimenter, Ideator, Organizer, Partner, Promoter, Systematizer, Technocrat, Theorist) comes with its own personal balance sheet — a unique mix of assets and liabilities. The TIPS profiling report features and elaborates on the top five assets and liabilities of each profile.

    For example, what are assets of a Conceptualizer? They tend to possess a natural talent for strategy and getting the big picture. They are balanced, integrated whole-mind thinkers who equally enjoy and excel at quantitative, analytical thinking and qualitative, creative thinking. Being self-reliant conceptual knowledge workers, they are good at creating new concepts and tools, and they are naturally born problem-solvers. (By the way, these assets typically relate to the dominant TIPS style of a profile, which is the work style “Brain” in the case of the Conceptualizer.) 

    However, like all other profiles, Conceptualizers not only come with a set of assets, but also with a set of liabilities listed on the right-hand side of their personal balance sheet: Conceptualizers dislike sweating the small stuff. Having their heads up in the clouds, they may miss out on details, sensations and events going on in the real world, which also exposes them to politics and people issues at work. While solving the problems of everyone else, they tend to forget to focus on how to maximize their own full potential, which also puts these fast thinkers at a risk of suffering from burn-out in the long run.

    How to make the most of your assets?

    Many self-books and management coaches advise you to invest time and effort in improving your liabilities. It’s similar to being at school, where kids get tutoring to develop and improve those subjects at which they are weak.

    But TIPS urges you to do just the opposite: Focus on playing on, developing and growing your personal assets. Your assets are those things that are easy, effortless and enjoyable to accomplish and master for you, but are difficult for others. Your personal assets are those beneficial qualities that best allow you to add meaningful value to your organization and yourself.

    How to limit your liabilities?

    Now you may wonder: But what about my liabilities? Should I invest time improving on my weaknesses? Nope. Don’t bother. TIPS is based on the idea to make everyone play on their strengths, while having other people fill in for one’s weaknesses. 

    So, who are these “other people” that compensate for your liabilities? They sit opposite each TIPS profile on the TIPS Profiling Map.

    For example, being dual opposites, Conceptualizers and Organizers balance each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Organizers enjoy operations and taking care of all the details. They are down-to-earth and pragmatically get things done, working in the moment in a both efficient and service-oriented way. As such, an Organizer complements a Conceptualizer, and vice versa.

    How can you benefit from gaining greater self-awareness of your assets and liabilities with TIPS?

    Here are three concrete application areas (out of many others):

    1. Career planning and alignment:
      Look for roles that allow you to apply your strengths as much as possible, because that’s how you can make the biggest positive difference in business. For example, a Conceptualizer can best play on their assets in functional roles such as strategic planning or business development, industries such as high tech or consulting, and smart or start-up organizations.
    2. Job applications and interviews:
      Regardless of whether you are a fresh graduate applying for your first job, or a seasoned veteran vying for a vacant position in senior management: Being aware of your assets and liabilities is essential to scoring that new position. It allows you to convincingly advertise your core strengths in your job application — and to comfortably and credibly answer that question about your weaknesses in an interview. (After all, we all have weaknesses). Becoming more self-aware of your assets and liabilities also can give you an idea of how you may come across to others, and allow you to empathize with their point of view.
    3. Personal Development:
      When planning your professional development initiatives, ask your superior and human capital development manager to send you to attend training programs that grow your human asset base, or in other words: that further and expand on the assets of your TIPS profile.

    Conclusion: Become aware of —and focus on— your assets

    TIPS gives you the opportunity to play on and grow your personal assets, while having others compensate for your liabilities. So, how can you harness the powerful dynamics of your personal balance sheet? That’s easy:

    1. Simply register yourself at our new TIPS Online Test Platform.
    2. Then, get TIPS-ed for $89 to discover your TIPS profile and personal profiling results.
    3. Finally, start making the most of your profile’s assets and enjoy reaping the rewards. 

    © Dr. Detlef Reis 2018 

     


  • How TIPS Helps You Boost Your ROI

    Have you ever had a sales meeting where you were pitching a great product that really addressed your client’s need, only to be cast aside by your counterpart with the killer phrase: “Can you demonstrate to me how this improves our ROI (return on investment)?” Today, let me share with you how to deal with the “ROI request” in a productive way using the example of TIPS, Thinkergy’s innovation people profiling method. So, how can TIPS help you improve the ROI of your company?

    Background: A frustrating sales meeting

    A few weeks ago, I had a meeting with an executive in charge of human capital development at a well-known corporation in the Food & Beverage industry. Once leading its category, the company nowadays largely milks its last few cash cow products to get by. “You need to start a new creative growth cycle to stop your decline in revenues and products”, I suggested to my counterpart, and added: “And I have the perfect tool to help you find those creative types in your organization to drive your creative renaissance. It’s called TIPS, our new people profiling tool for innovation.”

    I explained to him how TIPS can help him identify who responds how to creative change, and who are those few people in the organization who can actually lead and drive innovative change. In short, TIPS is the right tool at the right time to solve an important problem of the company. 

    Observing the closed body language of this prospect client, however, I realized that he was not open for a new, innovative method, and clearly is not one of those early adopters whom we target in the global roll-out of TIPS. So, it was not too surprising when he suddenly came up with the all-purpose kill-any-initiative statement: “I am willing to consider your product if you can make a very strong case how it helps us improve our ROI.” I nodded, thanked him for his time, and left.

    A few days later, I talked this situation over with a befriended consultant, who as my senior is blessed with 15 more years of professional experience and wisdom. I shared with him my point of view on the “ROI request”: I regard investing hours of time to establish a numeric ROI calculation to prove the bottomline implications of TIPS as a waste of time; this is because such a calculations needs to be based on a set of assumptions that may or not be true, and/or require the company to disclose to me a set of financial and business related data that may be too “confidential” (or in some cases too embarrassing) for them to share. “You’re right,” said my friend, “you cannot win with this approach, as it opens the door for much debate.” Then, he shared with me a better strategy to demonstrate how a product or new project initiative, can help boosting ROI: 

    • First, identify a major problem that the organization faces.
    • Then, demonstrate how your product is able to address and resolve the problem.
    • Finally, establish a logical causal chain that outlines how the benefits of using the product outweigh its costs, and how it improves ROI.

    How does this work in practice? In the following, I will make a case on how TIPS can help organizations boost their ROI by helping them to retain their top talents (through better recruitment, better alignment and better management of their talents), and by improving the innovativeness of the firm.

    How TIPS improves ROI by recruiting the right people

    My last article cited various studies reporting that the majority of companies perform poorly in recruiting the right person for an open position, leading to replacement costs of at least 20% of the salary. Moreover, two in three companies even admitted hiring the wrong person for the right job (i.e., people who cognitively fit the requirements of the position, but are sociopath, bullies or tyrants), leading to declining revenues, client relationships and employee motivation.

    The article also outlined how TIPS can ensure that companies hire the right person for the right job (and don’t hire the wrong person), thus effectively helping them to resolve the problem of a poor recruitment success ratio. How does this impact ROI?

    TIPS helps organizations to hire the right person for an open position. TIPS does this by making sure that the preferred cognitive styles and natural talents of a person fit the requirements of the job. If companies recruit the right people and use them in the right job, then the new recruits tend to perform easily and effortlessly in their role, and their outstanding job performance increases the ROI of the organization. 

    TIPS also prevents organizations from hiring the wrong person for the right job. This helps avoid direct employee replacement costs, and spares organizations from the negative impacts on their bottomline (as described above) and from higher employee turnover (which in four out of five cases is rooted in bad hiring decisions, as we discussed two weeks ago). TIPS makes it likely to identify such “wrong people” ahead of time, helping you to avoid the related decreases in ROI (due to lower sales and higher employee replacement costs).

    How TIPS boosts ROI by retaining more of your top talents

    High employee turnover is another major problem that many companies face. What causes this problem (apart from poor hiring practices as just discussed above)?

    1. High employee turnover may partially be attributed to the generational shifts in the modern workplace. Unlike previous generations, many Gen Y knowledge workers don’t want to labour in a job only for the money; they also want to do meaningful work. If they notice that in their present job they cannot make a positive contribution to the world, they may look for another one that promises them a better chance to make meaning. 
    2. Another reason for high employee turnover may be because companies use too many of their employees in roles that do not perfectly align to their natural strengths. Put in other words, too many companies haven’t put the right person in the right job. This is a waste of talent, because each mismatch prevents a person from performing at their natural best.
    3. Evidence from many studies suggests that employees don’t leave companies, they leave bad bosses. For example, a recent Gallup study found that one in two employees left a job and company they otherwise liked because of a bad manager or immediate supervisor who doesn’t care for their needs and cannot relate to their preferred cognitive styles. (Funny enough, my move away from Deutsche Bank (whom I had loyally served for 16 years and owed a lot as they supported my studies) was triggered by a few managers who weren’t able to relate to my personality and cognitive styles).

    Corporate Chief Human Resource Officers, it’s time to face an inconvenient truth: Those people who volunteer to leave your company because of a hollow, misaligned job or a poor manager are typically the strong, dynamic, self-confident types; and among those who stay is a lot of deadwood.

    How can TIPS boost your ROI by helping you retain your top talents?  

    • TIPS enables you to realign your talents to make sure that everyone works in a role that fits their natural talents and strengths, while having other profiles fill in for each other’s weaknesses. As Albert Einstein noted: “If you judge a fish by it’s ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.” Fish perform easily and effortlessly in the water, as do monkeys on trees. So, TIPS allows you to align everyone in a business unit to do those things that naturally come easy to them, and to outperform effortlessly in their role. And if individual and team performance increase, so does ROI.

    • TIPS also allows you to manage each talent in harmony with their preferred cognitive styles. For example, as an Ideator, I hate being micro-managed, working on dull routine tasks and being checked upon on a daily or weekly basis. You manage Ideators like me by agreeing with them at the beginning of the year on a few ambitious growth targets and an intellectually stimulating, creative project initiative. Then, provide them the few resources that they ask for, and finally let them do the job while keeping an open door in case they seek your feedback.

    Putting the right person into the right job, and managing them in line with their preferred cognitive styles, both improves employee satisfaction and empowerment, and reduces the likelihood that your talents listen to other job offers or even openly look around for new opportunities. Hence, employee turnover goes down, employee replacement costs decrease, and your ROI goes up.

    How TIPS boosts ROI by improving your innovation performance

    The modern innovation economy mandates companies to either come up with more meaningful innovations or quickly fall behind in their industry. According to studies cited in an earlier article titled “How innovation affects financial performance”, innovative firms grow faster and enjoy significantly higher profit margins than their non-innovative peers. So if TIPS can help companies to become more innovative, it is likely to boost their ROI. 

    So how does TIPS raise the innovativeness of an organization?

    Combined, all these TPS-powered innovation contributions will boost the innovation performance and outputs of your firm, which according to various studies, raises your ROI by 3-5% each year.

    Conclusion: TIPS — a small investment in human talent, a giant leap in ROI

    At a cost of USD 88.88 per test, TIPS can significantly improve your company’s ROI by helping you to: a) improve your success ratio of recruiting the right talents for open positions, b) increase individual and team performance at work through better talent alignment, c) increase talent retention by managing people in line with their preferred cognitive styles, and d) raising your firm’s innovativeness and innovation performance. 

    And you? When would you like to get TIPS-ed and take our new TIPS online test? Contact us to learn more about TIPS and our related training courses

    © Dr. Detlef Reis 2018

  • Manage People Better by Relating to Their Personal Styles

    Managing people in the modern globalized workplace is like herding cats. Managers need to effectively relate to people’s unique personal styles and to different cultural, educational and generational backgrounds. That’s easier said than done. But what if there were a tool helping managers better understand the individual personal styles of their team members?

    TIPS, the innovation people profiling method I’ve created for Thinkergy, allows executives to more effectively manage their various team members by recognizing their unique styles. Let’s understand how people differ in their style to think, work, interact and live their lives, and how you can get the best out of them by acknowledging these personal styles differences.

    Thinking style: Figure vs. Fantasy

    People who are all about Figure are left-brain-directed, analytical thinkers who like working with numbers, statistics and spreadsheets. They think sequentially, step-by-step following in scientific style.

    How to manage Figure thinkers? Appeal to and make good use of their analytical mind. Assign them quantitative roles and projects. Know that they document and file records of everything they do and that happens (including your HR discussions, so do create a record of important conversations, too).

    In contrast, Fantasy thinkers are right brain-directed, indicating they enjoy creativity, ideas, indulging in fantasies and envisioning a compelling future. They follow a more free-wheeling thinking style and may jump back and forth while working on an issue.

    How to manage Fantasy thinkers in line with their cognitive preferences? Stimulate and harness their creativity in qualitative roles and projects requiring ideas and imagination. Ask for their ideas whenever appropriate, and co-create solutions together with them (including their personal issues, such as career paths). But ensure they keep files, as they don’t enjoy shuffling paper.

    Work style: Brain vs. Brawn

    Brain workers are strategic, big picture thinkers who prefer working on abstract, conceptual projects. They focus on achieving ambitious, meaningful goals and have a medium- to long- term time horizon. “Brainiacs”are excellent creators and thinkers preferring to work with their heads in the clouds; they dislike having to “sweat the small stuff” associated with most managerial roles. They work in leap and bounds, alternating periods of intense cognitive work with relaxation and recreation.

    How to get the best work out of them in line with their preferred work style? “Brainiacs” are motivated by challenging projects. Agree on goals you want them to achieve in the medium term. Then trust they will figure out how to achieve them and contact you if they need help. Don’t micro-manage them.

    Brawn workers on the other hand are practical operational doers who prefer concrete, tangible tasks. They move forward task by task and get satisfaction from ticking on the boxes of their daily To-do list. They focus on getting the task at hand done well rather than working on gloomy goals.

    How to get “Brawniacs” work at their best? Because they focus more on achievement of short-term goals, they prefer short-term control loops where you give them feedback on how they’re doing. Hence, they don’t mind being micro-managed (and practice it themselves on subordinates if they’re the boss).

    Interaction style: Fact vs. Feeling

    Fact interactors are all about evidence-based communication and decision-making. They make their case based on data and hard facts, and can be very blunt and argumentative. They have low tolerance for nonsense as they care first and foremost about truth and intellectual honesty.

    How to best interact with these factual people? Do your homework and look up the facts involved in a project, task or case. Build up your arguments based on the evidence at hand to gain respect — and to avoid the embarrassment of being put on the spot if your argument isn’t sound.

    On the other hand, dealing with Feeling interactors is a piece of cake. They are friendly, caring and empathic. They consider other people’s feelings and points of view, including yours. They are very good at observing emotional cues that reveal others’ true thoughts and feelings. They prefer making decisions in a team or using their gut.

    How to manage them? “Feelers” care for appreciation, understanding and emotional bonding. Practice an interpersonal management style here. Show sincere concerns for their work and life challenges. Listen to their empathic perspectives. Involve them in decisions whenever possible to reach a consensus or at least seek their understanding and agreement.

    Lifestyle: Form vs. Flow

    Form people relish the status quo. They prefer living in a stable world where traditions and rituals are honored and everything has its formal order. They are dependable, punctual, and set. As they enjoy optimizing projects and realizing efficiencies, they dislike others rocking the boat and fixing things that ain’t broken.

    How to best manage them in harmony with their lifestyle preference? Show them you appreciate their high reliability and commitment to your organization and welcome their contributions. If your company goes through a transformation, know that Form-oriented people tend to resist change, so help them adjust.

    In contrast, Flow people go with the flow of life. They are flexible, agile and progressive. They love variety, progress and change. In fact, they drive change and create the truly new — the bigger and bolder the better. They relish taking a bold risk they consider worthwhile. They express their individuality and own opinions, and are less concerned with punctuality and etiquette.

    How to manage Flow people? Give them freedom to roam in space and time. Don’t lock them into a cubicle-prison. Tolerate their quirks and informal ways, knowing that geniuses are highly individualized. Offer them a chance to dedicate some of their work time to innovative projects that interest them — and also help your firm. They may thank you by coming up with the Next Big Thing.

    Conclusion

    TIPS distinguishes eleven innovator profiles that differ from each other in their preferred personal styles to think, work, interact, live and innovate: The Theorist, Ideator, Partner, Systematizer, Conceptualizer, Promoter, Organizer, Technocrat, Coach, Experimenter and All-Rounder. Each of these personas requires a different management approach based on their unique styles. When would now be a great moment for you to shift from a “one-size-fits-all” management style to a TIPS-informed personalized management approach?

    Contact us if you want to learn more about the TIPS innovation people profiling method.

    © Dr. Detlef Reis 


  • How to Hire the Right Talents with TIPS

    Have you ever heard of the expression “put the right man into the right job”? Bet you have. Given the wide popularity of this cliché, we can expect that most companies are doing a good job when hiring the right person for an open position, can’t we? Interestingly, numerous surveys indicate the opposite. Today, let’s explore why talent acquisition is so challenging for most companies, and how the inclusion of a cognitive profiling tool such as TIPS can help you to increase the odds of hiring the right person for the right job.

    Background: The staffing game

    In the TIPS Innovation Profiling Workshop, one game we play with delegates is a staffing game. Whereby, each team has to staff 11 open positions related to innovation. They have 15 candidates (each featured with a short biographical and professional profile) who vie to get hired. For every position, there is one ideal candidate (“the right person for the right job”). Moreover, just like in real life, among the applicants there are also a few “wrong people” (whose profile descriptions are based on famous movie villains).

    At the end of the game, most teams have succeeded in putting at least a few right people into the right job. Typically, they will also have hired one or more of the villains (and often will have even placed the “wrong person into the right job”, thus setting them up for causing maximum damage). Clearly, staffing is important and difficult, which is the key message we want to convey to delegates with the little game. 

    The scope and cost of poor hiring

    We intend our TIPS staffing game to represent reality. So, how do companies perform in hiring or talent acquisition game in real life? Here are a selected few of many sobering statistics on the success ratios and related costs of hiring: 

    • In a 2017 survey by CareerBuilder, three out of four companies admitted to have hired the wrong person for a position. Companies estimated the average loss per poor hire at roughly USD 15,000.
    • Forbes estimates the typical cost of replacing an employee at 21% of their annual salary.
    • According to a study from the National Business Research Institute, two out of three employers reported they experienced negative effects of bad hires in 2016. Putting the “wrong person into the right job” led to a decrease in sales for 10% of these companies, and negatively affected employee morale (37%) and client relationships (18%). 
    • According to the Harvard Business Review, 80% of employee turnover has its roots from bad hiring decisions.

    Given the low success rates of putting the right person into the right job, a cynic may be tempted to recommend a hiring line manager and supporting Human Resources manager to save time and costs and rather flip a coin on the top candidates. This may increase their success ratio. So, is there anything that companies can do to improve their odds of recruiting the right talent for the right job? 

    Yes. Include a cognitive profiling tool (such as Herrmann’s Brain Dominance Instrument or Alan Black’s free MIND Design concept) into the recruitment exercise. Or simply use TIPS.

    What is TIPS? And how can it help you in talent acquisition?

    In our TIPS staffing game, the job descriptions of the 11 vacant positions connect to the 11 TIPS innovator profiles. I based the applicant profile of the “right person” for each “right job” on the personality characteristics and biographical data of a famous real-life innovator (for example, Walt Disney is the ideal fit for the open position that calls for the creative change energy of an Ideator, while the Experimenter profile draws upon Apple’s Chief Designer Jonathan Ive). Of course, I created the job profiles and applicant profiles for the TIPS staffing game on the drawing board, but we would largely employ a similar procedure in a real-life hiring project for a company:  

    • You have job positions that connect to certain profiles in TIPS. 
    • You have candidates who apply for the job.
    • We assign a TIPS profile to each applicant depending on how they answer the TIPS questionnaire. 
    • Because all questions in the TIPS questionnaire connect to the four TIPS bases (Theories, Ideas, People, Systems) and the four TIPS styles (to think, work, interact and live), we gain a lot of data input for detailed follow-up questions that allows us —and you!— to check not only how well the different candidates cognitively fit a particular position, but also how consistently and congruently they have answered. 

    How can you use TIPS to hire the right person?

    Below, I outline a 7-step process on how to include TIPS (or a similar cognitive profiling tool of your choice) as part of your hiring process and toolset:

    1. Describe the open position in detail. For each open position, create a detailed job description that outlines the following: a) Job title or name; b) Role summary; c) Duties & responsibilities; d) Qualifications & skills; e) Decision authority; f) Performance goals and desired target outputs.
    2. Translate each open job position into a compatible TIPS profile. When we consult companies on important hiring projects, we work with the hiring managers to help them figure out the ideal TIPS profile for a particular position. We do this by using a card set with descriptive adjective labels that relate to the different positions and profiles. Apart from a primary target profile, we also identify 2-3 “secondary profiles” that represent good (but not “ideal”) fits.
      For example, suppose you wanted to hire a Finance Manager. Then, you may pick descriptive attribute cards such as  “quantitative”, “analytical” and “controlling”. The ideal TIPS profile to fit this position is a Technocrat, with Systematizers or Theorists being possibles. In contrast, say you needed to recruit a new Creative Director for an Ad Agency. Here, you probably look for someone who is “creative”, “flamboyant” and “expressive”. So, a Promoter would be the best fitting TIPS profile, with Ideators and Partners being acceptable alternatives.
    3. Have all shortlisted candidates take the TIPS online test. Contact Thinkergy or a certified TIPS trainer or coach to order a TIPS online test for each candidate (if you order larger numbers in bulk, you can enjoy a price benefit). After you’ve paid for the test, each candidate gets a test coupon to complete the test. We make sure that just like the candidate, you will receive a copy of their reports with their test results.
    4. Analyze the cognitive job fit of each candidate. Do one or more candidates fully fit the ideal profile identified in step 1? Do some of the applicants profile as one of the secondary profiles? Who doesn’t seem to fit the open position well based on their cognitive profiling test result? 
    5. Consider having a certified TIPS coach take part in the final job interviews. Especially if you have to fill a vacancy in senior management, or plan to recruit a larger number of people, consider inviting a certified TIPS coach to be part of the interview committee. For each candidate, your TIPS coach will do a deeper level analysis of the overall TIPS test results and all individual answers, and use the insights to devise a set of practical questions for the job interview (e.g., “You answered in your TIPS questionnaire that you always plan your work day and tend to stick to what’s scheduled. Can you walk us through a typical workday of yours, and give us some examples?”).
      By paying close attention to the verbal and non-verbal answers to such probing questions, it’s more likely to spot inconsistencies in the way candidates portray themselves in the test, and how they answer when put on the spot in the interview. Thereby, your TIPS coach will also listen for keywords that candidates habitually use, as the different profiles tend to use certain words more frequently than the other profiles.
      This plausibility check can both help you avoid hiring “false positives” (people who pretend to be the right person for the job, but likely have a different cognitive profile in reality than they portrayed themselves to have while answering the online test) and “false negatives” ( i.e., those sociopaths, bullies and tyrants who tend to hide their self-centred, misanthropic and antisocial behaviours in normal interviews, and who 66% of companies in the NBRI study only identified as a bad hire ex post after they had ran havoc on their business). 
    6. Specify the cognitive fit of each candidate to an open position. Finally, your TIPS coach can classify all shortlisted candidates into three categories: “Ideal fits” (candidates who fit the ideal profile and seem to answer coherently and plausibly); “possibles” (secondary TIPS profiles); and “non-fits” (other TIPS profiles — or all candidates with too many implausible, incongruent answers), If desired, your TIPS coach can also rank the candidates in relation to their perceived fit to the open position, or assign them a rating score (say, from 1 to 6).
    7. Finally, decide. At the end of the day, your recruitment committee or senior managers need to make a decision on who to hire. Alongside other factors, such as each candidates’ perceived (a) professional fit(their knowledge, skills and experiences repertoires) and (b) cultural & value fit, the c) cognitive fit is one key decision criteria to consider. If you use a rational decision-making tool (such as the Weighted Scoring Model), each of these criteria would be one line in your decision matrix for which you would need to agree on a proportional weight. Then, each manager involved in the hiring decision would rate each candidate for each decision criteria. Finally, you can compute the “rational choice”. Before you go on and act on the hiring decision, however, ask how everyone involved in the process feels about the choice, thus allowing those with a bad gut feeling about the “optimal” candidate to speak up and voice their concern.

    Conclusion: Include cognitive profiling tests in your talent acquisition efforts

    Using a sophisticated cognitive profiling tool as part of your standard recruitment toolkit can noticeably improve your odds of success in hiring the right person for the right job (so you can use that coin for another purpose than flipping heads and tails on candidates). But does it fully protect you from hiring the “wrong man” for the “right job”? While it doesn’t give you complete certainty, it will make it more likely that you can identify potential bad hires in advance. 

    Imagine that the “Joker” from the Batman movies (who is one of the villains in our TIPS staffing game) applied for a job in your product development team. In TIPS, the Joker would profile as an Ideator, thus making him an ideal fit for product development. So, how can you avoid releasing a series of new “explosive” products into the market in the coming years? Simply involve a certified TIPS coach into the interview process. Have her ask the right probing questions, then listen between the lines for revelations of bad character (for example, when asked for his preferred creative process, someone like the Joker may state that “every act of creation is first an act of destruction”), and you’re more likely to spot those villains in fiction and in real life ahead of time.

    Do you want to learn more about TIPS? Would you like find out more about our TIPS training for your organization? Or would you like us to help you in your talent acquisition efforts in a TIPS consulting project? Contact us to tell us more about how we may help you. 

    © Dr. Detlef Reis 2018


  • How to Scrutinize Popular Cognitive Profiling Methods (Part 2)

    Part 1 of this two-article episode introduced you to a variety of well-known personality tests or cognitive profiling methods. You may have already heard of —or even been tested in— tools such as Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), Herrmann’s Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI), DISC or the Enneagram. In today’s part 2, allow me to share how to scrutinize the underlying conceptual constructs and design architecture of a cognitive profiling method by answering the following questions: What conceptual features do almost all of these methods have in common? What shortcomings did I notice in many of the profiling tools that I tested? 

    In general, cognitive profiling methods add value because they allow us to learn more about ourselves and other people at work. Unfortunately, most traditional methods are only to a limited extent able to provide insights on how everyone can contribute to an organization’s innovation efforts, as I discovered while hunting for years for a suitable cognitive profiling tool to support the people-side of innovation. This is because most methods that I investigated suffer from one or more common methodological shortcomings. In the end, thinking about how to fix these perceived “bugs” led me to come up with a new cognitive profiling method for innovation: TIPS, Thinkergy’s Innovator Profiling System.

    What are common design features of most cognitive profiling concepts?

    Most cognitive profiling concepts share a set of common design features as follows: 

    • Use of dimensions: Most tools use between one and four dimensions to capture differences in personal styles. These theoretical constructs typically relate to particular cognitive or psychological theories. For example, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) uses four “preferences” linked to Carl Jung’s psychological theories to profile people; Herrmann’s Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI) draws upon brain theories to profile people using two dimensions mapped out in a four-by-four matrix; and Kirton’s Adaption-Innovation Inventory (KAI) falls back on his own theory to profile people using a one-dimensional construct. 
    • Use of a questionnaire to measure differences: All concepts capture individual differences by asking people to complete a profiling questionnaire. While the questionnaire design varies based on the overall architecture of each concept, a popular modus operandi is a four-box forced-choice questionnaire (e.g., DISC, M.I.N.D.). 
    • Numerical scoring of profiling results: After completing the questionnaire, most methods present the results in the form of numerical test scores (e.g., M Score of 0 + I Score of 11 + N Score of 0 + D Score of 1 = 12 is a sample result that I got after doing Black’s M.I.N.D. Design concept).
    • Use of a profiling map or table: The numerical test scores are often visualized in a profiling map and/or profiling matrix (e.g., HBDI, Wealth Dynamics). 
    • Assignment of profile types: Some but not all concepts assign distinct profile types to a person based on the test results. At times, these profiles carry an abstract and technical label (e.g., ENTP is one of sixteen profile types of MBTI that I mostly was assigned as a test result); at other times, they use descriptive names that relate to well-known professional roles (e.g., the supervisor and the architect are two of sixteen profile labels of Keirsey’s KTS). The number of profile types of concepts I came across varies between two and forty-nine in those concepts I got myself tested in. 

    What are common shortcomings of many cognitive profiling concepts?

    By testing a great variety of different cognitive profiling tools over almost a decade, I also noticed certain shortcomings, perceptual blindspots and application delivery gaps that got me thinking about how to fix these perceived suboptimal, missing or even “wrong” elements. So what are some of these suboptimal things I noticed? 

    1. Varying and limited number of construct dimensions:
      What is the best number of dimensions or theoretical constructs needed to adequately profile a person? While MBTI and KTS use four dimensions, many concepts suffice with only two-dimensional (WD, HBDI, MIND, Insights Discovery) or even one-dimensional constructs (KAI). Concepts with few dimensions emphasize certain aspects of personal style, but tend to neglect other facets relevant for business and innovation. Interestingly, for a few profiling concepts (including some popular ones that I won’t name), I was unable to understand their methodological design architecture and discern the underlying theoretical constructs. 
    2. Binary design of constructs:
      Many profiling tools interpret the test scores for a cognitive construct as an “either-or” result. For example, in MBTI, you ultimately come out as either an extravert or introvert. But could there be people who are both? Yes, I am one of them, and depending on the contextual situation and the required task at hand, I am as energized running a full-day innovation event in front of a large crowd as spending a day at my desk writing an article or a chapter of a book. Moreover, depending on the test version, I tend to come out more often as an Extravert, but at other times get profiled as an introvert.
    3. Profile allocation even in cases of nearly identical scores:
      In many profiling methods such as MBTI, you’re assigned a profile even when there are only tiny score differences for one or more tested dimensions. Suppose your test results in MBTI would be Extraversion vs. Introversion 51-49, iNtuition vs. Sensing 51-49, Thinking vs. Feeling 51-49 and Judging vs. Perceiving 51-49. In this case, MBTI assigns you a personality type (ENTJ), and that’s how everyone familiar with the method will look at you from now onwards. However, had 2-3 questions been formulated in a slightly different way, or had you not “overthought” your answers, you might have come out as an INFP instead. Of course, this problem is amplified if the expressions for two, three or even all four expressions are identical, making it difficult to classify such a balanced person within one of the 16 MBTI-profile “boxes” with confidence. 
    4. Too many or too few profiling questions:
      What is a fair number of questions to reliably measure the surveyed variables and to adequately profile a candidate? Here the art is to strike a right balance between time effectiveness of taking the test, and the accuracy of its result. While many candidates appreciate how quickly they can complete a short survey, some object that a short questionnaire is inadequate to capture sufficient aspects of their personal style — and vice versa in the case of a long questionnaire. Questions vary in number from as few as nine (M.I.N.D.) to more than a hundred (HBTI, some versions of MBTI).
    5. Too many or too few profiles:
      Suppose you’re a team manager using a cognitive profiling concept to capture the different personalities of your subordinates. Would you prefer to have no profiling types at all and having to recall the test scores only? Probably not. So we agree that having profiles is useful. But what is the best number of profiles to provide sufficient distinctions in style differences without overwhelming users? Are two profile types (KAI) or four profile types (Foresight) adequate to capture sufficient differences in style? Can you easily remember how sixteen profiles (MBTI, KTS) differ from each other? Here, eight to ten profiles seem to be a good number to strike a balance between offering diversity and avoiding over-complexity. 
    6. No descriptive profile labels:
      What do we call someone with a certain cognitive test score? Some profiling concepts (e.g., HBDI, MIND.) give candidates profile scores and detailed descriptions, but don’t use catchy names to describe a profile. Although the profile letters have become technical labels for trained insiders, MBTI suffers from this phenomenon, too. KTS resolved this problem by designating a more descriptive name related to well-known professional roles to each MBTI letter label. Laypeople shrug on hearing that I am an ENTP, but nod their heads when learning this means I am an innovator.
    7. No follow-up application suggestions:
      While providing detailed descriptions of a resulting profile, a number of concepts don’t offer enough concrete follow-up action recommendations to answer the questions: “So what? How to use a particular profiling result to make meaning? Specifically, how to use this result to better perform in business in general and with innovation in particular?” 
    8. No consideration of the dynamic and cyclical nature of business:
      Like many natural phenomena, most parameters in business (e.g., products, technologies, industries, and economies) pass through cyclical wave patterns. For example, Vernon’s product life cycle concept suggests that successful products go through the phases of introduction, growth, maturity and decline. With the exception of Hamilton’s Wealth Dynamics concept (and later on my own concept TIPS), I came across no other profiling method that entertained the idea that certain personality profiles are more suited to lead an organization through different phases of the life cycle of a venture or a product.

    How does TIPS conceptually cure these perceived ills?

    Let’s go through the eight problematic areas identified above one by one, and allow me to explain how TIPS aims to improve on the perceived shortcomings of other profiling methods.

    1. Elegant, enhanced design architecture:
      TIPS uses an elegant multi-layered design architecture that employs five theoretical constructs: the four TIPS styles (to think, work, interact and live) and the TIPS bases (Theories, Ideas, People, Systems). Together, they feed the TIPS questionnaire and span the TIPS profiling map.
    2. Trinary construct design:
      TIPS uses a trinary interpretation of the cognitive styles, meaning you prefer either this style expression or the other, or equally enjoy drawing on both. For example, in my interaction style, I prefer to communicate and make a case using both fact and feeling (and not just one of these style expressions).
    3. Own neutral profile type for close cases:
      TIPS assigns a neutral profile, the All-Rounder, to balanced profiling results where the test scores for three or even all four dimensions are near-identical. So we avoid the problem to “lock someone into a potentially wrong profile box” because of a tiny score difference.
    4. Adequate number of profiling questions:
      With 60 profiling questions, TIPS aims for the middle ground between high accuracy and complexity on one hand and time-effectiveness and simplicity on the other. As we gather more data over time, we aim to reduce the number of profiling questions to 50 or even 40 without losing accuracy (with the help of certain statistical procedures such as factor analysis).
    5. Handy number of profiles:
      TIPS proposes 10+1 profile types. So if you can recall the eleven players of a football (or soccer) team, you’ll also will be able to recall all the TIPS profiles. (By the way, the 11th “special” profile is that of the All-Rounder, see above).
    6. Business-oriented profile names:
      TIPS uses business-related role names to capture the essence of its 10+1 profile types (all labeled with business-related role names). Do you get a rough idea what a person is all about if you hear she is either a Theorist, Ideator, Partner, Systematizer, Conceptualizer, Promoter, Organizer, Technocrat or All-Rounder?
    7. Lots of applications to business and innovation:
      I created TIPS with the intent to help companies to better deal with the people side of innovation. As such, TIPS can give answer to questions such as:
      • What’s my style to innovate?
      • How can I best contribute to the innovation-efforts of a firm in line with my natural talents and preferred styles?
      • Should I rather lead or create innovation at the front, or manage and administer from behind?
      • At what process stages of an innovation project can I add most value with my cognitive styles?
      • What innovation types are closest to my natural interests?
      • What is my typical response to creative change in our organization?
      • What is my potential to be developed into a creative leader for the innovation economy?
      • Who are the profile types who make game-changing innovations happen?
        In addition, TIPS also offers a wide range of business applications, such as:
      • How to hire the most suitable candidate for a position?
      • How to better align the members of a work team to produce better results and higher work satisfaction?
      • How to use my talent in the most conducive work ecosystem?
      • How to manage people in line with their cognitive style?
      • How to understand and mitigate conflict at work?
    8. Reflection of the dynamic, cyclical nature of business:
      Theoretically grounded in constructs from social science and evolutionary economics, the theoretical construct of the TIPS bases allows TIPS to describe how the different TIPS profiles influence performance as a product or a venture moves through the business cycle. The TIPS bases connect two concepts from evolutionary economics, Kontratiev’s long waves and Schumpeter’s concept of creative destruction, which can explain how technological and social change gradually unfolds over longer periods of time.

    Conclusion

    Methods to profile people’s personality and cognitive styles potentially have a wide range of applications in business and innovation. They can be useful for individuals and organizations alike, provided they:

    • paint an accurate picture of the preferred cognitive style and psychological make-up of a person (Who am I? Who are they?), and then 
    • transfer these novel insights into meaningful action recommendations (So what? How to turn this heightened awareness of self and others into tangible results and meaningful contributions? How to make better use of a person’s unique talents and styles?).

    Do you want to learn more about TIPS? Would you like find out more about our TIPS training for your organization? Or would you like to take the TIPS profiling test yourself? Contact us and let us know more how we may help you. 

    © Dr. Detlef Reis 2018

  • What Consciousness Level Do You Operate On?

    Nowadays, most companies embrace personality tests and cognitive profiling methods as a tool to learn more about their people. Clearly, there is no shortage of such profiling tests that range from classic typologies (such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) or the DISC concept) over more cognitively-inclined tools (such as Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument [HBDI] or Alan Black’s MIND Design Concept) to more recent additions such as Insights Discovery or TIPS (Thinkergy’s Innovation Profiling System). But have you ever encountered a person with the same cognitive profile as you who nevertheless approached life in very different ways? While some of these differences may go back to a different social, cultural, educational, professional and/or generational background, they are frequently due to a factor that is greatly overlooked by business: consciousness.

    What does consciousness mean?

    Consciousness can be defined as the state of being aware of one’s surroundings, or one’s perception of something or a person, or the fact of awareness by the mind of itself and the world. In other words, to be conscious means to operate at a certain level of observing awareness and a certain degree of freedom of choice when thinking, feeling, sensing and interacting with people and the environment. 

    Highly conscious people have greater levels of observing awareness. This allows them to be less automatic in their response to situations they encounter, and to rather make an intentional choice how to think about and act upon what’s going on around them and within them. As such, they are able to observe both their outer and inner worlds with detachment, and to “simply be” (as opposed to always having to do something).

    Conceptualising the levels of consciousness (1): Hawkins' Map of Consciousness

    In 1995, the US philosopher and consciousness researcher David R. Hawkins published his book Power vs. Force: An Anatomy of Consciousness. In his book, Hawkins introduced a scale of expanding levels of consciousness that he calibrated using the methods of muscle testing and kinesiology. These consciousness levels are positioned on an exponential scale ranging from zero to one thousand. On his resulting Consciousness Map, Hawkins differentiates eight life-suppressing and nine life-supporting levels of consciousness characterized by the related emotional state or mindset that predominantly underlies a person’s behavior:

    • Presented in accelerating order, the life-suppressing emotional states are shame, guilt, apathy, grief, fear, desire, anger, and pride. All of these negative states calibrate below 200, which is the threshold to the positive consciousness levels.
    • Courage is the first of the live-supporting mindsets at the entry level of 200, followed by neutrality (250), willingness (310), acceptance (350), reason (400), love (500), joy (540), peace (600), and enlightenment (700-1000). 

    According to Hawkins’ observations, 85% of the world’s population lives on the life-suppressing, negative levels of consciousness below 200. Given so much negativity, why hasn’t humanity already destroyed our civilization? Hawkins suggests that the positivity of people operating on higher consciousness levels counterbalances the negativity of thousands or even millions of other people. This explains why Mahatma Gandhi (whom Hawkins calibrated at 760) was able to convince more than a hundred million people to follow his philosophy of non-violent resistance to end the British colonial rule in India.

    Conceptualising the levels of consciousness (2): Spiral Dynamics

    Spiral Dynamics by Don Edward Beck and Chris Cowan is another theoretical concept to explain different human development states (or levels of consciousness). Grounded in the work of Dr. Clare W. Graves, Spiral Dynamics suggests that when forced by life conditions, humans adapt to their environment by constructing new, more complex conceptual models of the world that allow them to better deal with the new problems. Each new model (or “meme”) transcends and includes all previous ones. Spiral Dynamics distinguishes eight “memes” of expanding consciousness; each of which for ease of reference is given a short name and an associated color:

    • “Survival Sense” is the start level of Spiral Dynamics. In this Beige Meme, humans’ sole focus is about staying alive by following ones instincts and innate, automatic sensory responses.
    • The Purple Meme on the next level is animistic and tribal in nature. Popularly described with the name “Kin Spirits”, humans bond here based on blood relationships to jointly master a mystical and scary world.
    • Called “Power Gods”, the Red Meme describes a more egocentric approach to life by enforcing power over self, others, and nature through exploitative independence and dominance.
    • “Truth Force” is the name of the Blue Meme. It is characterized by an authoritarian system of control and order, obedience to authority and an absolute belief in one right way or “truth”.
    • The ambitious, materialistic Orange Meme is named “Strive Drive”. It focuses on making things better for oneself by emphasizing strategy and possibility thinking.
    • “Human Bond” is the popular name of the Green Meme. It focuses on the equality and well-being of a community of people and on building consensus.

    Each of these lower-level memes are linked to states focusing on “having”, while the following memes are on higher levels of “being”:

    • Dubbed “Flex Flow”, the Yellow Meme describes humans who  are able to flexibly adapt to change by synthesizing integrative, interconnected big picture views.
    • Finally, the Turquoise Meme captures the vital few people (0.1%) who want to positively influence whole Earth dynamics and macro-level actions (“Global View”).

    Just like Hawkins’ Anatomy of Consciousness, Beck & Cowan’s Spiral Dynamics can explain why people cooperate and collaborate, or come to conflict with each other over differences in values and the deep-rooted belief systems that form them. One example: In which meme of Spiral Dynamics, and at what level of Hawkins’ Map of Consciousness, would you position the former and current US presidents Obama and Trump? Where would you place the majority of people who voted for them? Can you spot how the political decisions of these two presidents reflect alternative values and beliefs positioned on different levels of consciousness?

    How can you expand your consciousness?

    In order to move to a higher level of consciousness, we need to experience certain situations and/or do certain exercises that allow us to first transform our attitudes and action routines from negative to positive, and then to advance to higher, more integrative and holistic states of conscious being. 

    One way to expand your creativity and consciousness is to travel the Genius Journey, the creative leadership development method that I’ve developed for Thinkergy. The method employs a journey metaphor to help you acquire ten genius mindsets that are located on gradually expanding levels of consciousness. Genius Journey can transform blue or orange executives into yellow or even turquoise creative leaders. On Hawkins’ scale, Genius Journey can work for businesspeople who are on a level of at least 100, and can show them how to gradually expand their creative consciousness to the 400-540 range that may allow them to experience Eureka moments of subconscious peak creativity. 

    What if you strive even higher and aim for a consciousness level beyond 600 on Hawkins’ scale? Then you need to become a pupil of a spiritual guru who’s familiar with these states. As a creative leadership coach, I can only confidently talk about the levels below 600. 

    Why should you bother to expand your consciousness?

    By 2030, humanity will need a third planet Earth to sustainably reproduce all that we consume (of course, we have only one). By 2050, the world’s population will have shot up from currently 7 to 9 billion people. According to Hawkins, 85% of those run on lower, life-suppressing states of consciousness and mostly focus only on getting more for themselves — and not on the greater good of humanity. Moreover, mastering artificial intelligence and digital transformation will require more members of humanity to evolve to a new level of whole-mind awareness; Beck and Cowan already see a new “Coral Meme” emerging that they characterize as “holonic” (i.e., being or involving something that is simultaneously a self-contained entity and a part of a larger system). To sum-up, humanity needs more creative leaders who operate on higher states of consciousness and make more meaningful decisions for the better of the world, their organizations, their followers and themselves. 

    Are you interested to become one of them? Then take the first step today. Contact us to learn more about our Genius Journey creative leader training courses — and maybe even about our Genius Journey creative leadership coach licensing program.

    © Dr. Detlef Reis 2018

  • How to improve teamwork with TIPS

    In less than three months, the FIFA World Cup in Russia will kick off. Chances are that after the final, not the national squad with the most glamorous star, but the one with the best team will lift World Cup. What’s true in football is true in business, too: great teamwork matters. Today, let’s look at the art of composing and developing an effective team in business with the help of TIPS, Thinkergy’s innovation people profiling method.

    Introducing TIPS

    TIPS is a new cognitive profiling method that I’ve created for Thinkergy. The acronym TIPS stands for four base orientations (theories, ideas, people, systems) that drive people’s behavior in life and at work. With the help of a questionnaire that probes for these four bases and for four related cognitive styles, we profile people into one of 11 innovator profiles (Theorist, Ideator, Partner, Systematizer, Conceptualizer, Promoter, Organizer, Technocrat, Coach, Experimenter and All-Rounder).


    Each TIPS profile has certain natural talents and preferred styles that allow them to perform easily, effortlessly and enjoyably in certain ecosystems (industries, business functions, and organizational types). It’s similar to a position on the pitch in a football game, where certain players are born strikers, or central defenders, or goalkeepers. As in football, the challenge is to use everyone in a team to their best abilities and in ways that make the team effective — and once you know everyone’s TIPS profile, you can follow certain rules on how to best use each player and compose effective work teams.

    How to strengthen teamwork in an organization with TIPS?

    Teamwork is the combined action of a group of people, especially when effective or efficient. But how can we select the right players to make a business team effective and successful? And how can we develop the team as the business evolves? Here are eight recommendations on how to make everyone contribute to business success and align the players for effective and successful teamwork:

    1. Make everyone play in their natural position. Imagine you were a football coach and are lucky enough to have a world-class striker in your team. Where on the pitch would you position your star player? Would you play him in central defense so that he may work on his weaknesses? Or would you rather play him in offense where he has lots of opportunities to let his talent and natural strengths shine?

    Many companies and managers ask their staff to work on improving their weaknesses. I believe in the opposite strategy: Make everyone do those things that are naturally easy, effortless, enjoyable (remember the three Es) for them.

    For example, Ideators like myself like to drive change and create something new out of nothing. Promoters enjoy spreading the word and creating a buzz for a new idea, brand, or trend. Partners know all about their customers’ wants and needs because they deeply care for people.


    2. Use other profiles to fill in for your weaknesses.

    If everyone plays on their strengths, who takes care of those weaknesses that each of us has? The profile at the opposite end of your profile on the TIPS profiling map. 
For example, when working on an innovation case, Theorists enjoy rationally scrutinizing the evidence in a case, but tend to overlook taking into account the human factor. Positioned on the diagonal opposite end of the profile map, Partners have the most intimate customer knowledge and ensure that an innovation team considers the human factor is considered, too.

    3. Make the team composition fit its function. Depending on the main function that a business team performs, certain profiles tend to dominate and are more commonly found than others.

    For example, in an accounting department, most team members are likely to be Technocrats. In contrast, Partners and Promoters tend to prominently feature in a sales team. 
Similarly, certain profiles also tend to predominate certain industries. For example, when we look at different industries, the profile that is most common in a strategy consulting company is the Conceptualizers, while managers in retail companies are often Organizers.


    4. Balance a team with complementary profiles. Because certain profiles tend to dominate in a particular business function or industry, it is important to counterbalance the team with other profiles that support the majority and cover their weaknesses.

    For example, every sales team should have at least one Technocrat or Systematizer who makes sure that call reports are written, entries are accurately entered into an order system, and sales numbers are tracked and regularly discussed in a weekly sales pipeline meeting. Or to a consultant team full of big picture Conceptualizers on the road from client to client, add an Organizer to make sure that schedules are coordinated and kept, travel arrangements are booked and changed, and time sheets and expenditure sheets are filed in a timely way.

    5. Bridge gaps between opposites. In football, the midfielders act as connectors between defenders and strikers. In business, you may likewise use neighboring profiles to bridge a divide between teams that are operating on opposite frequencies.

    For example, many new innovation projects or marketing initiatives (driven by Ideators or Promoters) in banking nowadays get vetoed by officers in the compliance team (who are often Systematizers). Here, a Partner may act as ambassador to moderate the conflict between the sides by finding the lowest common denominator between the interest of the business side (bring in new revenues through innovation and new client acquisition) and compliance (mitigate legal risks, ensure compliance to regulatory requirements such as KYC (know your customer)).

    6. Balance complementing energies in a start-up venture. Most successful start-ups have a leadership team that balances three or even four different energies.

    For example, an ideal team for a tech start-up may comprise an inspiring Promoter as a CEO, a hands-on Organizer as a COO, a number-crunching Technocrat as a CFO, and a geeky Conceptualizer as a CTO. If the venture consists of a leadership triangle, a good combination may be an Ideator as CEO, a partner as Head of Sales, and a Systematizer as COO/CFO.


    7. Change the captain as your business moves into a new cycle phase. A venture moves through different corporate life cycle stages: first, creating a new product; launching and promoting the product; growing sales and customer relations; organizing the back-office to accommodate strong growth; creating stable systems and processes to consolidate the business; leveraging a business through modifications to product niches and adaptations to local markets; and finally, starting a new cycle through a new major product creation initiative.

    If you want to move to the next cycle phases, strengthen the profile that naturally drives this phase: Ideators in product creation, Promoters in launch, Partners for sales activities, Organizers to solidify the back-office, Systematizers to set-up efficient processes and systems, and Experimenters to twist and modify products.

    An alternative approach related to the quadrangular leadership team mentioned in the previous point, first have the CTO drive product development, then let the CEO lead the market introduction phase, then put the COO in charge to set-up the back office organization, and finally let the CFO drive the IPO and set-up of formal systems.


    8. Use All-Rounders to flexibly close gaps in the team. In almost every sports team, you find a few players that can play multiple positions in both offense and defense. While they might not be as good as the specialists, they do reliably well wherever you put them on the pitch.

    In TIPS, we call such players with a balanced set of skills and cognitive styles All-Rounders. Every business, and here in particular start-ups, do well of having one or a few All-Rounders in their team, as they feel home in any type of role and can easily fill gaps if your business grows rapidly or you face a period of staff turnover.

    Conclusion: “No individual can win a game by himself,” noted Pelé, the legendary Brazilian football star, three-time World Cup winner and world record holding scorer with 1,281 career goals. Often, the national team with the best teamwork wins the tournament, not the ones with one super star who everyone else follows. The famed US basketball player Michael Jordan put it this way: “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.” Composing an effective team in business is like forming a tournament-winning team in sport — and thanks to TIPS, it’s easy to create effective, focused and balanced teams for every function, industry and project in business.


    Have you become curious to find out more about your TIPS innovator profile? Or would you like to learn how to improve teamwork in your business in a TIPS Innovation Profiling Workshop?  Contact us to learn more about our innovation training courses and find out how you may purchase a coupon for our TIPS online personality test.

  • What innovation types fit your cognitive style?


    A new year is always a new beginning in business and in innovation. In the coming months, many companies will start new innovation project initiatives. They will compose innovation teams assigned to work on specified innovation challenges, such as creating an innovative product, designing a better customer experience, exploring new distribution channels, or designing impactful promotional campaigns, among others. We can distinguish the nature of such innovation project cases by a) the underlying innovation type and b) the desired impact of the innovative change they seek to produce. But did you know that people’s enjoyment of, and performance in, a particular innovation project depends on their preferred cognitive styles and innovator profile? Today, let’s explore what TIPS innovator types tend to fit to what kind of innovation types.

    Introducing the TIPS innovation profiling method

    TIPS is a new innovation people profiling method that I created for my innovation company Thinkergy. The method helps people to identify which of the four TIPS bases (Theories, Ideas, People, Systems) they are naturally attracted to, and also determines their preferred styles to think, work, interact and live.

    Based on the online test results, a person is assigned one of 11 TIPS innovator profiles that fall into three categories:: four pure profiles that rest on one base (Theorist, Ideator, Partner, Systematizer); six dual profiles that play on two bases (Conceptualizer, Promoter, Organizer, Technocrat, Coach and Experimenter); and one multiple profile (All-Rounder) that balances all bases. 

    Introducing the spectrum of modern innovation types

    In the past, innovation mostly focused on only two innovation types (product innovation, process innovation), but in the last 2 decades, a wide spectrum of modern innovation types has emerged that allows companies to innovate in many different ways:

    • Operational innovations target to improve internal processes and operational structures. The related innovation types are process innovation and structure innovation.
    • Value innovations focus on producing new, original and —in particular— meaningful value propositions (products, services, solutions, customer experiences and dreams (or as Tom Peters calls them, experiences plus)). Innovation types that target new value creation are product innovation (sometimes also called new product development), service innovation, solution design, and customer experience design.
    • Leverage innovations fall into two categories that are led by different bases:
      • Innovation types that leverage through multiplication allow you to multiply the impact —and revenues— of an innovative value through new distribution channels, new platforms, networks and strategic partnerships, and innovative business models. Related innovation types are channel innovation, platform and network innovation, and business model innovation.
      • In contrast, innovation types that leverage through magnification aim to make an innovative value offering appear to be even more valuable through a strong brand and exclusive image, thus allowing for higher prices and profit margins. Innovation types that enhance value through design include brand design, image campaign and promotion design, and packaging design.
    • Strategy innovation aims to reposition a business for sustainable and superior growth by working on all previous four levels (superior new value offerings produced at lower operational cost and leveraged with modern channels and design).
    • Finally, social innovation aims to improve the lot of the less fortunate members of society and the environment.

    Larry Keeley discusses ten innovation types in a book titled The Ten Types of Innovation. In an earlier blog article, I expanded on Keeley’s ten innovation types and categorised them as described above. In this connection, please note that before you start a new innovation project targeting a particular innovation type, you should be aware that you have to follow certain application rules of the innovation types game. 

    How the different innovation types relate to TIPS

    Dependent on your TIPS innovator profile, and your related dominant base or bases, you tend to relish certain innovation types more than others, and are likely to perform well in these innovation project that cater to your TIPS “home base”:

    • Operational innovations are largely Systems-driven. If you’re profiled as a Systematizer, Organizer, Technocrat or Systematic Experimenter, you’re likely to enjoy working on innovation projects targeting internal processes and operational structure.
    • Value innovations are dominated by the profiles at the Ideas-base. Ideators, Conceptualizers, Promoters and Imaginative Experimenters dominate innovation projects that aim to create meaningful new products, services, solutions and experiences that delight customers.
    • Theories-based profile types (Theorists, Conceptualizers, Technocrats, and —to a lesser extent— Systematizers) appreciate if they can apply their quantitative-conceptual cognitive style to innovation types that leverage through multiplication (focusing on new channels, networks, platforms, and business models).
    • In contrast, innovation types that leverage through magnification (brand, campaign, promotion and packaging design) are often driven by the profiles at the Ideas- and People-base (Promoters, Ideators, and Partners). Strategy innovation projects are spearheaded by the conceptual profiles at the TIPS bases Theories and Ideas (in particular Conceptualizers, but also Theorists and Ideators).
    • Finally, the profiles surrounding the People-base (Partners, Promoters, Organizers and Coaches) love working on social innovation initiatives. 

    How innovations differ in their impact of change

    The TIPS bases help explain not only what types of projects the different TIPS innovator profiles enjoy working on, but also the degree of change that they naturally prefer. Innovation equates to a positive change and a departure from the status quo. Thereby, different innovations vary in the degree of positive change that they produce. 

    We can categorize innovations into three different intensity levels based on the impact that a change has: incremental improvements (typically of an existing product marketed to an existing user base), evolutionary innovations and revolutionary innovations (disruptive new products allowing a firm to wow existing users and convert new customers). Moreover, evolutionary innovations can be further differentiated as to whether they focus on adding new value to existing users, or if they extend an existing value offering to new customer groups. These differences can be mapped out in an innovation-impact type matrix that is shown below. 

    How much change do innovators at the four TIPS bases prefer to produce?

    Depending on their dominant TIPS base, different innovator types feel comfortable with —and prefer to produce in an innovation project— a certain degree of innovative change:

    • The innovator profiles at the Systems-base (Systematizer, Organizer, Technocrat and Systematic Experimenter) tend to focus more on Incremental improvements by practicing a more adaptive innovation style. They are satisfied with incremental change because in general, they prefer preserving the status quo.
    • In contrast, the dynamic innovator profiles surrounding the TIPS base Ideas (Ideator, Conceptualizer, Promoter and Imaginative Experimenter) like to drive bold, radical change. They really enjoy pushing for revolutionary change and creating disruptive innovations, which they find more exciting than satisfying with an evolutionary innovation or —how boring— wasting their time and creative zest in projects targeting only incremental improvements.
    • Finally, the profiles at the Theories- and People-base can support either the incremental innovation efforts at the Systems-base or the more revolutionary innovation projects of the Ideas-base. But what they really enjoy most is working on projects targeting evolutionary innovations. Thereby, the profiles surrounding the Theories-base prefer to create more and new value to existing users, while the innovator profiles surrounding the People-base enjoy looking for novel ways to extend existing value offerings to new user groups. 

    Conclusion: Before you start a new innovation initiative, determine a) what innovation type the project focuses on, and b) how much change you target. Then, assign a person with a suitable innovator profile to lead the innovation initiative. Finally, invite those people to join the innovation project team who naturally enjoy this type of project based on their TIPS innovator profile, base orientation and related cognitive styles.

    Are you interested in determining your personal TIPS innovator profile? Or would you like to learn more about how to apply TIPS in business and innovation in an experiential 1-day training course, The TIPS Innovation Profiling Workshop? Contact a TIPS Certified Trainer and let us know more about how we may support you.

    © Dr. Detlef Reis 2018


  • How to make everyone contribute to innovation

    Many books and articles about famous innovation leaders focus on and celebrate one of three archetypes: the geek who first embraced a new technology; the progressive creator who came up with a game-changing idea for a new product; or the storyteller who charismatically leads and promotes a firm’s products. But what if you have a cognitive style that differs from these glamorous innovation archetypes? How can you play on your unique talents and strengths to contribute to the innovation efforts of your firm?

    Corporate innovation involves many other roles and tasks requiring innovators with very different cognitive styles. When we look at the domain of innovation from a wider viewpoint, we can notice many other perspectives beyond the archetypical technological, revolutionary or promotional frames of innovation. Today, let’s discuss how to make everyone contribute to corporate innovation by revealing their cognitive styles and innovator profiles with the help of TIPS, Thinkergy’s innovation people profiling method.

    Innovation requires more than just coming up with ideas

    One of the many learning activities we run in our TIPS workshops invites delegates to link typical tasks that an innovation team needs to perform while working on an innovation project to the TIPS innovator profiles. Allow me to play a variation of this exercise with you now:

    Suppose you had to select colleagues for an innovation team to work on a major innovation challenge of your company. Who in your team, business unit or company is the best person to:

    • do secondary research on the innovation case and check on perceived facts and assumptions?
    • give advice on new technologies and trends related to the challenge?
    • come up with bold ideas that push boundaries?
    • convincingly pitch a top idea to key idea supporters?
    • consult on customers’ needs, wants and dreams?
    • run an idea activation project and manage the project team?
    • critique an idea concept and tell you what’s wrong with it? review financial data or legal documents related to the innovation case?
    • explore anthropological or philosophical questions related to an innovation challenge?
    • roll up the sleeves and get hands-on in a rapid prototyping exercise?

    Do you have someone in mind for each activity?

    This little exercise can help us to understand that people a) differ in their cognitive preferences, talents and strengths, b) are good at and enjoy different work activities, and c) can add value and contribute to an innovation project in different roles and activities that are aligned to their preferred styles, talents and strengths.

    Going beyond the project-side of innovation, we can similarly notice many other innovation-related roles and work activities that require people with different cognitive styles, strengths and talents. Thanks to TIPS, we can now give each of those “innovator types” a profile name and specific roles or activity niches where they can shine with their unique cognitive styles and talents.

    Introducing how each innovator type can contribute to innovation

    Many of the celebrated innovation leaders mentioned above are Conceptualizers, Ideators or Promoters who often create new products and start new companies to market them. All situated at the Ideas-base in TIPS, these profiles are:

    • the first to pick up new trends and emerging technologies (geeky Conceptualizers such as Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg),
    • turn them into revolutionary new products (progressive Ideators such as Walt Disney, Thomas Edison or the older Steve Jobs), and
    • create a buzz for them in the market (enticing Promoters such as the young Steve Jobs or “ad man” David Ogilvy).

    These profiles cover three fundamental perspectives on innovation: strategic-technological (Conceptualizer), progressive-revolutionary (Ideators) and marketing-driven and promotional (Promoter).

    But how about the other TIPS profiles and their perspectives on innovation?

    • Partners (such as the hotel group founders J.W. Marriott or Conrad Hilton) take a customer-centered and social view on innovation. Being situated at the People base of TIPS (Theories, Ideas, People, Systems), they enjoy working on human-centered innovation projects because compared to all TIPS profiles, they are intimately familiar with their customers’ wants, needs and desires. Moreover, they like to get involved in and contribute to social innovation initiatives that aim to help the less fortunate in society.
    • Systematizers (such as the steel industrialists Andrew Carnegie or Lakshmi Mittal) approach innovation more from a systemic and procedural perspective. So, entrust a Systematizer with the tasks of setting up the formal innovation system in your company: organizing the innovation function; defining the processes of how the organization intends to pursue innovation; implementing an IT-driven idea and innovation management system; and specifying the metrics to track the firm’s innovation management performance. In an innovation project, call upon Systematizers in the critical Evaluation-stage towards the end of the process, when they can help an innovation team to “get real” and give feedback on what’s wrong with an idea or prototype.
    • Theorists (like the economist John Maynard Keynes or the young Elon Musk) look at innovation from a research-driven or scientific point of view. Operating from the Theories base, they create or transform base research or —nowadays more often— applied research findings into tangible know-how and technologies that Conceptualizers or Ideators can pick-up and transform into new innovations. In innovation projects, Theorists are valuable contributors in the initial Xploration stage, where they challenge an innovation team to critically check on the viability of facts, assumptions and beliefs related to the innovation project case.
    • Organizers (such as the Southwest Airlines founder Herb Kelleher or Walmart founder Sam Walton) cover the operational and organizational aspects on innovation. They prefer to work on more hands-on, down-to-earth innovation initiatives that aim to continuously or incrementally improve the processes used to produce or deliver an innovation to the market. They also enjoy taking care of all organizational details related to innovation events or conferences so that everyone feels comfortable and well served.
    • Technocrats (such as the Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-Shing or Microsoft co-founder Mark Allen) tend to approach innovation more from a quantitative or administrative point of view. They enjoy taking care of programmatic and financial calculations (e.g. calculating return on investment or market valuations) as well as legal aspects related to an innovation (reviewing legal documents to protect or administer a firm’s intellectual property rights).
    • Coaches (such as the psychologists Carl Gustav Jung or Abraham Maslow) represent the philosophical and psychological perspective on innovation (“Why do humans innovate, and who benefits really from it? How can the discipline innovation elevate the human lot and spirit?”). As Coaches are as rare in real life as unicorns (especially in the business world), let’s not go into detail here about how they precisely animate their noble intentions into tangible innovation contributions and move on to the next profile.
    • Experimenters take an iterative and experimental view on innovation. They passionately look for ways to either scale a viable product to allow for much deeper market penetration (represented by systematic Experimenters such as car maker Henry Ford or McDonald’s Ray Kroc), or to significantly upgrade an existing product by elevating its performance and design aesthetics (exemplified by imaginative Experimenters such as the inventor and entrepreneur James Dyson or Apple’s lead designer Jonathan Ive). In an innovation project, Experimenters are the first to roll up their sleeves for rapidly prototyping a promising idea concept in the Evaluation stage.

    What about the eleventh and final innovator profile in TIPS, the All-Rounder? As they cover all four TIPS bases (Theories, Ideas, People, Systems), All-Rounders can flexibly contribute to innovation in many different roles and activities.

    Conclusion: William Shakespeare wrote: “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players; they have their exits and their entrances.” What’s true for life in general is as for the world of innovation: Everyone can play an important role in innovation and contribute to a firm’s innovation success — but better ensure that we do so in harmony with everyone’s natural talents, preferred cognitive style and innovator profile.

    Have you become curious to find out more about the TIPS innovator profiles of yourself and other players in your team? Contact a certified TIPS trainer to find out how you can take our TIPS online personality test.

    © Dr. Detlef Reis 2018.

  • How to Deal Better with Conflicts at Work

    Picture all the people at work with whom you regularly come into contact. If you’re like most people, your colleagues fall into one of four categories: Cool, okay, at times irritating, or really annoying. Now, what if you had a tool to better understand the dynamics behind conflicts at work, learn ways to handle them, and discover why the people who trouble you most should be your best friends?

    Background: How TIPS links to conflict at work

    TIPS is a new cognitive profiling tool that I’ve created for my innovation company Thinkergy. The method uses four home bases (theories, ideas, people, systems) and four styles (thinking, working, interacting, and living) to profile people into 11 innovator types.

    I created TIPS to point individuals and companies towards how everyone can contribute to a firm’s innovation efforts. However, the method has also many business applications, such as: pointing people towards a career environment that suits their talents; composing and aligning effective work teams; managing people according to their preferred styles; and others.

    TIPS can also help explain why some people clash at work. Such conflicts are grounded in different fundamental value orientations and cognitive styles. TIPS’ four bases and four styles can help us understand the situational dynamics that trigger work conflicts.

    How TIPS helps understand the conflict dynamics at work

    Let’s explore the conflict dynamics at work between the four TIPS bases, and how they relate to each of the four TIPS styles. Visualize a grid containing two rows and two squares each. Clockwise from top left, they read T-I-P-S:

    • Your “cool” colleagues tend to belong to the same TIPS base, as they share your core values: theories, theses and truth at the T-base; ideas, inspiration and innovation at the I-base; people, partnership and party at the P-base; or systems, structure and status at the S-base. They also prefer the same styles of thinking, working, interacting and living. So when people are essentially alike, they tend to like and respect each other, and the conflict potential here is “no” to “very low”.
    • Your “okay” colleagues belong to the base that vertically connects to yours (T vs. S and I vs. P). They occasionally disagree with you because they prefer a different work style (brain vs. brawn), which influences what kind of work we enjoy and how we prefer to schedule a work day. “Brainy” T- and I-workers love to think their way through conceptual projects that they work on in longer time blocks of 3-4 hours. In contrast, “brawny” S and P-workers enjoy laboring through a To Do list full of short-term tasks scheduled in much shorter intervals of 15-30 minutes. In roughly one in four work situations (often related to scheduling meetings or agreeing on completion times), these work style differences lead to frictions with people who are otherwise “okay”.
    • Your “irritating” colleagues belong to the TIPS bases that are horizontally opposite of yours (T vs. I and S vs. P). Here, arguments occur because your preferred thinking styles differ (figure vs. fantasy). For example, T-people logically deduce the one right solution by following a sequential flow, while I-people synthesize many solutions by connecting the dots between concepts in a more freewheeling style. When looking at each other’s solution, T-thinkers say I-thinkers have no proof to substantiate their solution logically; I-thinkers counter that the scientific approach of the T-thinkers is too slow, linear, and narrow in possible solutions. Such cognitive differences between Figure and Fantasy thinkers lead to disputes in every other work situation.
    • Your “really annoying” colleagues belong to a home base that is diagonally across your own one (T vs. P and S vs. I). Here, we can expect clashes in ca. three out of four work situations, as both thinking and work styles differ. Moreover, they also differ from you in either preferred interaction style or lifestyle:
      • Because of substantial differences in interaction styles (fact vs. feeling), expect frequent annoyances or hurt feelings when T- and P-people cross paths. Why? T-people make a case and decide based on facts and hard evidence. They argue in a direct, logical and often blunt way that offends sensitive P-people, who consider the feelings of others and are more emotional. On the other hand, “touchy-feely” P-people may annoy more aloof T people by invading their space and —heaven help— even engaging in physical contact.
      • A second major conflict zone runs across the S- and I-bases, given the differences in preferred lifestyle (form vs. flow). Highly dynamic I-people love to take risks, drive change and shake things up. This infuriates S-people, who greatly dislike anyone upsetting the status quote by “rocking the boat”, proposing to “fix something that ain’t broke”, or even proposing a crazy idea of a revolutionary new product. S-people want to preserve the status quo and cherish trusted rituals and past traditions, while I people love to create a better future and radical progress. Because they prefer living in different worlds, S- and I-people are prone to clash often at work.

    In conclusion, we may sum up that the conflict potential between the TIPS bases in the following likelihoods: 0% within a base; 25% between bases on the same vertical axis; 50% between bases on the same horizontal axis; and 75% between bases who are vertically across. However, please note that in all cases, the conflict potential can rise by another 25% due to occasional “clashes of egos” or “cat fights” that may break out between two individuals for reasons other than differences in their core values or preferred cognitive styles.

    What can we do to moderate and mitigate conflicts at work?

    So, now that you know why you get along so well with some colleagues and regularly have issues with others, how can we use these insights to reduce, moderate and mitigate conflicts? Here are four tips:

    1. Differences divide, diversity enriches. Every TIPS base and profile has it’s value and place in business. Good work performance and harmony arise from finding the right mix of talents and styles at the right time.
    2. I’m okay, you’re okay, everyone is okay. Many conflicts at work aren’t personal, but rather related to different value orientations and variations in the preferred styles of thinking, working, interacting and living. Make an effort to appreciate other points of view. Follow Stephen Covey’s advice: “First seek to understand, then to be understood.”
    3. Find moderators to bridge conflicts. Colleagues who express both TIPS bases or styles in their profile can help moderating conflicts. For example, Conceptualizers are ideal to cool an intellectual dispute between a Theorist and an Ideator because of their thinking style (figure and fantasy). Or use a Coach (located on the diagonal axis connecting the T and P bases) to moderate a conflict between a Theorist and Partner.
    4. Opposites complement. Who are your “new best friends at work” — or who should they be? Those colleagues who most annoy you. Why? Because they are strong in all those areas where you are weak; because they enjoy doing those things that you dislike doing; and because they value those aspects of business that you prefer to ignore. They cover your shadow-side, just like you light up their shadow. You balance each other’s energy to provide a Yin-Yang harmony, and like night complements day, and female complements male, so your colleagues located opposite your position on the TIPS profiling map complement you.

    How does TIPS extend to all the profiles?

    So far, we have only discussed the conflict potential between the four TIPS bases. How does the conflict potential break down when we look at each of the 11 TIPS profiles?

    • For the four pure TIPS profiles (Theorist, Ideator, Partner and Systematizer), we simply can adopt the indicative conflict potential likelihoods mentioned before to see how well they get along with each. For example, I am an Ideator, and I have hardly any issues with other Ideators (0%), occasional issues with Partners (25%), regular arguments with Theorists (50%), and frequent clashes with Systematizers (75%). With regards to how a pure profile relates to the other profiles, we can estimate an indicative conflict potential based on the averages of the conflict potentials between two bases.
    • For the dual TIPS profiles, the biggest conflict potential (75%) is with the profile on the opposite end of the TIPS map: Technocrats vs. Promoters, Conceptualizers vs. Organizers, and Coaches vs. Experimenters. We can also predict the conflict likelihood with other profiles by considering the differences in style and values between each profile combination.
    • But what if you profile as an All-Rounder in TIPS? Well, All-Rounders feel home on all four TIPS bases, so they get along great with each other and well with everyone else (no issues with other All-Rounders, and 25% conflict potential with all other profiles).

    Would you like to learn more about TIPS? Are you interested in determining your personal TIPS innovator profile? Would you like to profile your team with our online personality test? Or maybe even learn about TIPS in an experiential 1-day training course, The TIPS Innovation Profiling Workshop? Contact us and let us know more about your needs and how we may support you.

    © Dr. Detlef Reis 2017. 

    Acknowledgement: Robert “Alan” Black, Ph.D., a well-known US creativity coach for over four decades, was the person who brought to my attention how conflicts at work may relate to differences in people’s preferred cognitive styles. My estimates on the likelihoods of conflicts between certain bases and profiles align with Dr. Alan’s numbers, which he based on research findings in his Ph.D. thesis and observations in the field while facilitating workshops on creativity and his own cognitive profiling method (M.I.N.D. Design).


  • What Keywords Reveal About People’s Personality

    Mahatma Gandhi once said: “Your beliefs become your thoughts. Your thoughts become your words. Your words become your actions. Your actions become your habits. Your habits become your values. Your values become your destiny.” If you want to find out more about people’s core beliefs and thoughts, pay close attention to the words they’re using regularly. Today, I’d like to tell you what these keywords can tell you about someone’s personality, and how you can use these insights for making better decisions when recruiting talent or selecting candidates for talent development.

    Cognitive profiling method in talent acquisition and development

    Nowadays, many companies use personality profiling methods —often long-established tools with well-known acronyms such as MBTI, DISC or HBTI— to learn about the preferred styles of employees, managers and prospective recruits. But what if a candidate intentionally cheats by ticking certain answer options that don’t reflect their true style, but promise to help them landing that job, or getting into that fancy talent development program?

    Enter TIPS and a solution to the personality test dilemma

    TIPS is a cognitive profiling tool that I’ve created for Thinkergy. TIPS stands for four base orientations (theories, ideas, people, systems) that reflect how social and economic change unfolds over time. The TIPS bases also capture basic value orientations, allowing us to check if people fudge their test answers. How?

    Imagine you’re applying for a talent development program focused on innovation. You’re keen to get into this company-sponsored program, because it allows you to learn more about this “hot” topic and to increase both your internal career chances and external employability. But deep down you don’t consider yourself a “creative” person.

    Now imagine being asked to do a cognitive profiling test as part of the selection process. The test questionnaire has certain answer options that allow you to assert how creative you are. What will you do?

    I don’t know about your response, but some candidates will intentionally tick the “wrong” answer options that favorably portray themselves as a creative type and increase their odds of being selected for the program.

    TIPS addresses this problem in two ways:

    • First, I designed the test so that someone who tries to “game” the result will either end up with a balanced All-Rounder profile in the middle of the TIPS profiling map, or get a test score that just edges into one of the other 10 TIPS profiles.
    • Second, if the latter happens, we pay attention to the words that such “borderline” candidates use in a final interview to find out if they really lean more towards one the other TIPS profiles or are rather All-Rounders.  

     

    The keywords to listen for in TIPS

    What are typical keywords that people with different TIPS profiles enjoy using? I recently jotted down a number of them while interviewing 50 applicants for an innovation talent development program (whom we had earlier tested for their TIPS profile). Let’s first get a flavor for the language favored by the four pure TIPS profiles (Theorist, Ideator, Partner, and Systematizer) who rest solely on one TIPS base: 

    • Sitting at the top left Theories-base of the TIPS Map, Theorists  emphasize their passion for the truth through expressions such as “honestly speaking”, “if I am honest”, or “to tell the truth”. They use “reason” and are “reasonable”, and consider the “facts” or “evidence”. They “confront” people who talk nonsense, take intellectual short-cuts, or are not up to a job. They enjoy “thinking” in a “logical” way and use their “knowledge” to build an “argument”. They “define” concepts and “problems” and “weigh pros and cons” involved in a case. Their favorite question particle is “why”.
    • At the bottom-right People-base, Partners are in many ways a flip side of Theorists. They “enjoy” using verbs like “feel”, “touch”, “share”, “help”, “follow” and “lead”. They talk about “teamwork” and “partnerships”. They “care” for “people” and their “team” and “leader”, and cherish a work place that feels like “home” and “family”. Adjectives such as “happy”, “human” and “emotional” predominate. They also enjoy talking about “sales” and “closing deals”. For a Partner, the most important question is “who”.
    • Floating at the Ideas base on the top-right, Ideators like to use creative action verbs like “create”, “innovate, “make it better” or “make it happen”. They love to talk about “change”, “ideas” and “opportunities”, and use adjectives like “dynamic”, “entrepreneurial” and “meaningful”. You’ll hear a lot of “new” phrases — “new ideas”, “new products”, “new services”, “new business”, “new concepts”. Ideators enjoy formulating a lot of “what”-questions.
    • Anchored at the Systems-base on the bottom left, Systematizers are “accurate”, “diligent” and “responsible”. They enjoy talking about the “system” and “processes” that they “implement” and “optimize”. They “manage” “performance”. They make sure that everyone is “compliant” and “follows the rules”. As the profile most concerned with the past, they often use words with the prefix “re-” (meaning either “again” or “again and again” to indicate repetition, or “back” or “backward” to indicate withdrawal or backward motion): so, Systematizers “review”, “remove” and “renovate” where Ideators “view”, “move” and “innovate”. When Systematizers ask questions, they often start with “how” — including “how much” and “how many”.

    How about the keywords of the six dual TIPS profiles (Conceptualizer, Promoter, Organizer, Technocrat, Coach and Experimenter)? Because they locate between two bases, they tend to borrow a lot of the words from the neighboring two profiles at each base. However, each dual profile type also employs certain words that hint at their dual profile. Let’s look at some two sample profiles here:

    • Sitting in between the Theories  and Ideas bases on the top line of the TIPS map, Conceptualizerslove to “learn” about new “tools”, “methods” and “technologies” that they then “apply” or “teach”. They enjoy thinking “big” and focusing on the “big picture”. They enjoy asking “what”  or “why” questions.
    • Promoters connect Ideas with People (on the right side of the TIPS map). They are “lively” and “expressive”, “stylish” and “easy”-going. Promoters enjoy “life” and having “fun”, and love to “communicate” and “convince” people and to “present” in front of them. Promoters tend to ask a lot of questions starting with “what” or “who”.

    Conclusion: Your TIPS profile is hidden in your words — and so is mine and everybody else’s. The keywords that we frequently use in conversations reveal what we value and what makes us tick. So, first pay attention to your own keywords to get hints of your profile. Then, enjoy listening to the conversations of others to learn more about what makes them tick and what personality type they probably have.

    And what if you want to know for sure and do the TIPS online personality test for yourself or your team?  Contact us to find out how you can purchase a coupon for our online personality test.

    © Dr. Detlef Reis 2017. 


  • Does your talent fit your work environment?

    Albert Einstein once said: “If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” Sadly, many businesspeople are on career tracks where they feel like a fish being asked to climb trees. 

    I used to be one of those people earlier in my professional career, before I discovered which work environment best fits my innate talents. But how about you? Do you work in a “hot” work environment that supports your natural abilities? Or are you stuck in a “not” environment that does not allow you to flourish?

    Background: Hot or not? 

    In TIPS (theories, ideas, people, systems), Thinkergy’s innovation people profiling method, my profile is that of an “extreme Ideator” — a colorful creative entrepreneurial business person who operates at the forefront of change. Twelve years ago I started Thinkergy, an innovation company that allows me to play on my TIPS home base “Ideas” and my dominant TIPS style of “flow”. Ever since, I’ve been in a “hot” environment that perfectly suits my preferred styles and natural talents.

    But that’s not how I started my professional career. For more than 15 years, I tried hard to make a career in banking, an industry I entered to fund my graduate and doctoral studies. I worked hard and did my best to fit in, but at heart I was not a banker. I preferred to think, work, interact, live and even dress differently than the typical banker.

    As I know now, the banking industry operates on the opposite TIPS base (Systems) and TIPS style (form) from mine. Big banks favor people who adhere to rules and formal protocols and don’t rock the boat. In many ways, I am just the opposite. I went from a career that increasingly felt DDD (dull, drudgery, de-energizing) to one that feels EEE (easy, effortless and enjoyable).

    Why is it important to align talent to a hot environment?

    From a macroeconomic point of view, it’s a giant waste of talent, money and energy invested in education if people lose years or even decades of productive work time in a career that isn’t their natural path.

    On a personal level, it’s a travesty to labor in a DDD job when you could make major meaningful contributions in an EEE career. Fortunately, knowing your TIPS profile can help you to align yourself with a “hot” environment.

    What do I mean by “work environment”? The concept can encompass (1) a business function such as marketing, sales or accounting; (2) an industry such as finance, fast-moving consumer goods or consulting; and/or (3) an organizational type such as a start-up, a government agency or a non-government organization (NGO).

    What are “hot” and “not” environments for different profiles?

    Each of the 11 TIPS profiles has a dominant style, which points you to work environments that suit your profile. While we can’t list all the combinations, here are some “hot fits”:

    • Theorists do well in “smart”, evidence-driven universities, think tanks and research institutions.
    • Ideators excel at starting new (technology) ventures or working on new product development, content creation or design projects.
    • Partners shine in people- and service-driven industries such as healthcare, hotels and gastronomy. They also feel at home in NGOs.
    • Systematizers do well in asset-driven, consolidating industries such as banking, oil and gas, steel or utilities.
    • Conceptualizers play out their brains best in industries such as consulting or software development.
    • Promoters show their creative communication talents in creative industries such as advertising, PR or entertainment.
    • Organizers ensure smooth operations in industries such as manufacturing, logistics or airlines, where it’s important to pay attention to small details.
    • Finally, Technocrats can best contribute with their thorough, accurate business minds in administrative, quantitative environments such as accounting and law firms, as well as in government agencies.

    Note that every profile has also a “not” work environment that suppresses your talents. You can find it diametrically opposite your profile on the TIPS Profiling Map.

    So what does this all mean to you?

    What can you do to check if you’re on a career track that is “hot” or “not”?

    • Take the TIPS online personality test to find out what’s your TIPS profile.
    • Check the section “hot or not” in your profiling report, and see if you’re currently working in environment that is “hot”, “okay” or “not” for you.
    • If come out as “hot” fit, smile and be happy that you’re aligned to an environment that suits your natural styles and talents.
    • If you find out that —as I did years ago— that you’re on the wrong track, check out the recommended “hot” work environments and ponder if one of the fields entices you.
    • But if you want to make a change, resist the temptation to do so right away. Instead, first acquire the know-how, skills and contacts needed to succeed in your new field (which should feel highly motivating and empowering to you). Then, once you’re sure that you can earn sufficient income in a new role in your “hot” work environment, take the plunge and enjoy the flight.

    To discover how TIPS, and its 20 applications for talent development, business and innovation, can benefit you and your organization, or to find a Certified TIPS Trainer, contact us today

    © Dr. Detlef Reis 2017. 

  • Tracking the long-term impacts of innovation training

    What are the long-term impacts on learners who have taken training in structured innovation? What do they recall from the course? What is the long-term effectiveness of a systematic creativity training with regards to building-up creative confidence and creative confidence in learners? Did the learning journey to the creative side of life inspire some former learners to pursuit creative careers?

    My colleague Dr. Brian Hunt and I investigated these questions in a new research study that is part of my research program “Teaching and learning creativity and innovation”. We will publish our complete results in a conference paper titled “Training Businesspeople in Structured Innovation: Tracking down Long-Term Impacts” that I will present at the ISPIM (International Society for Professional Innovation Management) Innovation Conference in Vienna in two months. Today, allow me to share some of our interesting findings here.

    Background of the study

    Our new research builds on two earlier papers that introduced the course content and pedagogical design of a training program in structured innovation, and then mapped out the  learner’s emotional journey through an experiential training course in business creativity (these findings were published in this previous article on Uncovering the Innovation Learner's Experience.

    To investigate the long-term impacts of innovation training, we contacted 400 former learners via email and social media and collected 53 usable responses. The mean time that had passed since the respondents completed the course in structured innovation training course was 4 years, in spans varying from 1.5 to 11.5 years.

    The respondents were almost equally split between male and female, with ages ranging from 24 to 69 years with a mean of 33. 

    What are some of the findings that we uncovered on the long-term impacts of structured innovation training?

    Finding 1: Structured innovation training can anchor creative confidence and competence

    Taking a well-designed training program in structured innovation improved both learners’ creative confidence (self-belief in one’s creativity) and creative competence (knowledge and skills in the fields of creativity and innovation) in the long run. Almost 80% of the former learners confirmed that they consider themselves to be more creative than their colleagues at work (creative confidence) and to know more about creativity and innovation than their colleagues (creative competence).

    Many comments echoed the notion that “everyone can be creative” and that “you can systematically create creative results using methods and tools”, underlining the themes of creative confidence and competence. One former learner said: “I now truly believe everyone is creative, I look at people around and especially myself very differently. I have a lot more confidence in thinking out of the box and pitching ideas. And with the belief, ideas flow.” Another respondent voiced surprise on “how little other people know about business creativity”.

    Finding 2: Structured innovation training can inspire more creative career paths

    Our data confirmed that being exposed to experiential innovation training encourages roughly half of the learners to pursue careers in creative industries or more creative business functions, or even to start their own creative ventures.

    One former learner said: “I left the corporate world and joined startups in order to be able to create and try different approaches instead of being stuck with corporate compliance”. Others said the training “helped me to launch my startup instead of working in a big company. I work on innovation because of it”, or “inspired me to pursue a career in indie game development where creativity truly thrives”.

    Others said the training helped them to approach their existing job responsibilities more creatively and successfully. One former learner stated the training “has given me a wider perspective and know-how in how to approach creative team building and brainstorm or knowledge accumulation process”.

    Finding 3: An enjoyable learning experience can enhance the recall and application of innovation know-how

    Given that on average four years had passed since the learners took their innovation training, we were pleasantly surprised how well they recalled innovation methods and thinking tools as well as key creative principles taught:

    • Many explicitly remembered X-IDEA, Thinkergy’s innovation process method X-IDEA that formed the structural backbone of the innovation training program: “I remember all the stages of X-IDEA and their significance along with tools used in each stage like jotting down as many ideas as possible on post-its, merging them together to combine ideas, etc.” Others praised X-IDEA’s effectiveness as follows: “A systematic innovation process is always effective when going through an innovation project – hence, a systematic process with a focus on productivity is key”; and “we had our final idea and thought it would not have been even remotely possible to come up with such an idea with the convention thinking process”.
    • Other course graduates recalled and applied the TIPS (Theories, Ideas, People, Systems) profiling method. (“I understand myself more with TIPS and apply it to I work with people”; “My most memorable moment was when we leaned about our TIPS profile and how our type relates to and interacts with others”.)
    • A number of former learners recalled important creative principles, such as moving from idea quantity to idea quality, thereby transforming wild ideas into novel, original and meaningful concepts: “One main insight I gained was never to judge and kill any ideas at the beginning. They can lead to potentially become the big idea.” Others noted that in the context of a structured creative process, a “crazy idea can become a practical one” and that a “wild idea creates innovation”.

    Finding 4: Course application and appreciation is most intensive at the upper and top management levels

    Interestingly, those former learners who now play leading roles in their organizations voiced the highest long-term appreciation of the innovation training’s usefulness and creative effectiveness. While middle managers coordinate teams and work “in the business” with a focus on efficiency and “getting things done”, top-level leaders work more strategically and creatively “on the business”.

    Conclusion: Our findings suggest that an effective training in structured innovation with long-term impact on the learners should follow these course design tips:

    1. Make learning fun, enjoyable and creative (“The course was in a complete different style than any other lecture. The different approach led to a different way of learning and unfolding creative potential”.)
    2. Design “sticky” activities and memorable moments (“fun activities”, “laying flat on floor”, “balloons and paper airplanes”, “the alien game”) into the creative learning journey to aid long-term knowledge recall .
    3. Teach useful knowledge and skills with a focus on practical application. (“The way of X-IDEA was very practical and logical”.)
    4. Build-up and anchor the creative confidence and creative competence of learners through realistic innovation practice cases. (“I’m more creative and I always think out of the box”.)

    Do you want to build-up your creative competence and creative confidence with a structured innovation training?  Do you want to learn more about our systematic innovation method X-IDEA? Or find out what’s your preferred cognitive style and your TIPS innovator profile? Contact us to learn how our team of certified trainers can unbox the thinking of your people with a long-term impact.

    © Dr. Detlef Reis 2017. 


  • How to put the right people into the right job

    Wouldn’t it be great if all your new recruits fit perfectly  into the vacant positions you wanted them to fill? And if everyone on a team worked in a role that allowed them to let their talents shine and played on their strengths, while others compensated for any weakness?

    Some of the hardest things to get right in business are staffing open positions and aligning the members of a team so that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. But what if there were a tool that allowed you to put the right people into the right job — and to turn your organization into a true “human capital bank”?

    Background:

    Thinkergy’s innovation people profiling method TIPS (theories, ideas, people, systems) profiles people based on their preferred styles of thinking, working, interacting, living, and innovating. Every candidate who answers the TIPS profiling questionnaire is classified in line with their cognitive preferences as one of 11 innovator profiles (theorist, ideator, partner, systematizer, conceptualizer, promoter, organizer, technocrat, coach, experimenter and all-rounder).

    While I created TIPS originally to improve the people side of innovation, it has many other applications, and can give organizations more talent and people awareness. So, how do we help organizations optimize their mix of human talents and put the right people into the right job?

    Step 1. Profile your staff:

    Start by making a small investment in your human capital by allowing us to profile all your staff to unveil their innovator profiles and personal styles. Ideally, send them also through a TIPS Innovation Profiling Workshop to animate their different styles and profiles.

    Step 2. Create a group profiling map:

    Next, we position each one of your employees on a TIPS group profiling map based on their test scores and innovator profiles; a group can be a work team, a department, a business unit, the entire organization, or all of the aforementioned. When looking at a group profiling map, we ask you a number of questions:

    • Is there any concentration of profiles in this group? Typically, a map reflects a dominant base and style in line with either your business function, industry, or corporate life cycle stage. 
For example, Thinkergy is an innovation company, and we’ve just began moving from the initial development to our growth phase. Thus we have a heavy profile concentration around the TIPS base “Ideas” and the TIPS style “Flow”.
    • Are there any profile gaps? When you notice a profile concentration, consider adding a few members to the team who are strong in those tasks that don’t come naturally easy to the others

     

    Step 3. Define each job profile:

    A good job profile describes in detail what each position is all about:

    • What responsibilities and regular tasks are associated with the role?
    • What outputs is the job owner expected to produce?
    • What decisions need to be made, and how important are these?

    Step 4. Link each job profile to specifics:

    How would you sum-up each job profile in just three words? We’ve created a deck with 33 cards (featuring descriptive attribute labels such as “entrepreneurial”, “conceptual” or “quantitative”) to translate a comprehensive job profile into the simple language of TIPS.

    We ask a client to pick those three attributes that best describe the essential success factors of each job profile. For example, attributes that fittingly describe a project manager responsible for implementing concrete projects could be “practical”, “operational” and “down-to-earth”.

    Step 5. Define suitable TIPS profiles for the role:

    Each of the 11 TIPS profiles links to three primary attributes. We use the descriptive labels that a client chooses for each role to recommend a primary, best-fitting as well as one to two secondary profiles. For example, profiles that fit to a project manager (based on the previously listed attributes) are the organizer (primary) and either partner or systematizer (secondary options).

    Step 6. Align the job to candidates with a fitting profile:

    If the position is already staffed, we check if the incumbent has one of the suggested TIPS profiles. If yes, all is already well. If not, we investigate if swapping the person with a better fitting colleague may lead to a mutually satisfying realignment that makes everyone happy and more productive.

    If a role isn’t staffed yet, or if no one in the organization has a fitting profile, then you need to recruit a new candidate — and you can use the TIPS personality test to profile each of them for a good fit.

    At the end of this exercise, you should have put every person into the right job —at least in theory. So, with the final step, you take care of linking theory with reality.

    Step 7. Track job satisfaction and teamwork improvement:

    Do a survey with each individual employee involved in the exercise a few weeks and then six months after the exercise to track satisfaction. Use the feedback to make further alignments if needed. If all is well, give yourself a pat on the back: You have mastered the science and art of putting the right person into the right job.

    Do you want to learn more about how our new innovation people profiling method TIPS can help you putting the right people into the right job? Contact us to find a certified TIPS trainer who can help maximize your organization's talent.

    © Dr. Detlef Reis 2017.

  • Creative cultural change is like striving to live a healthier life

    This week, I attended the ISPIM (International Society of Professional Innovation Management) 2016 Innovation Summit in Kuala Lumpur. Apart from presenting an academic conference paper on the innovation learner’s experience and running a workshop on our innovation people profiling method TIPS, I also was asked to moderate a panel discussion on “Creating a Culture for Innovation”. While preparing for the session, I noticed an interesting similarity: Creating an innovation-friendly, creative culture in an organization is like striving to live a healthier life.

    All change starts with a major impetus

    When do people begin to long for a healthier lifestyle? Only when they realize that something is seriously wrong. It might be burnout, weight gain, a performance drop at work, or even a heart attack that sends an unmistakable signal: you must change your lifestyle NOW.

    Likewise, every established corporation occasionally receives an urgent wake-up call that now is the time for building a creative culture: a sharp drop in sales or profits; a fast-growing, agile new player that is eating up your market share; or a new technology that threatens to make your business obsolete.

    Get a check-up

    What do you do when you notice something’s wrong with your health? You see a doctor, who will examine you and perform tests to identify the causes for your declining well-being, and then recommends effective treatments.

    When a corporation expresses a desire to evolve into a more creative culture, an innovation consultant prescribes a comprehensive innovation capacity audit. This “health check” identifies the presence or, more typically, absence of certain organizational factors that support creativity and innovation.

    For example, in the innovation audit that is a key feature of Thinkergy’s innovation transformation method CooL – Creativity UnLimited, we check for 64 bipolar factors that relate to five bases: leadership, commitment, collaboration, culture and structure. A good “innovation health check” creates a clear profiles of the organizational innovation capacity, and identifies problem areas that need fixing to perform a “cool change” towards a more creative culture.

    Adopt an open, curious mindset

    After a health checkup, you know in theory what things you need to do to start living better. Does this awareness alone help you succeed? Nope. First take a look at your existing mindset: What habitual thoughts and action routines led to your decline in the first place? Become aware of your unhealthy ways and the disempowering thoughts and situations that trigger them. Then you can replace them with new, empowering healthy action strategies, and reframe your health challenge as an opportunity to discover a new, exciting side of life.

    Similarly, an innovation consultant needs to determine if the “brains” of the organization are willing —and able— to change. Leading change towards a more creative culture requires top executives to stop talking the innovation talk, and start walking it. Ask: Are they willing to revisit the strategic core of the organization (vision, mission, values, core value propositions)? Are they eager to conduct a strategy innovation project to discover new fields of sustained, profitable future growth? And on a personal level, are they open to undergo a creative leadership development program such as Thinkergy’s Genius Journey method?

    Commit to the achieve the desired changes

    Once you’ve begun cultivating an open, curious mindset for healthy change, you need commit the necessary resources: enough time to exercise, meditate and sleep; additional money to purchase healthier meals, and so on.

    Likewise, corporate leaders need to make serious commitments of resources for the creative culture change initiative: committing their own time to create momentum; setting budgets for new projects and innovation initiatives; and forming an innovation team to support the creative change effort. Commitment is the acid test to find out how serious the leadership really is towards creating a creative culture.

    Collaborate to jointly change

    Now you have a motivated mindset to pursue a healthy lifestyle and have earmarked sufficient time and money to achieve success. But how can you be sure you won’t fall back to your old, unhealthy habits? You could team-up with “buddies” who have similar health goals, or hire a coach. Your collaborators will check on your progress and hold you accountable if you stray from the path.

    In an organization, you can introduce collaborative creative projects and innovation initiatives that break down boundaries and silos, unite like-minded, progressive creative minds, and build momentum and enthusiasm for creativity and innovation.

    Work on the cultural factors

    Finally, everything is in place to create a healthier you. Now you just need to do it, which is easier said then done. So, develop new routines and actions that make health and wellness a core part of the way you live: mediate first thing in the morning; eat a healthy breakfast; take supplements; go running, or do a gym or Yoga session on your lunch break; replace unhealthy snacks and drinks with healthy alternatives; go to bed in time to for allow for sufficient sleep.

    Likewise, organizations need to get busy changing their routines and cultural habits to foster a more innovation-friendly climate: practice rapid prototyping; praise people who take initiative even if they sometimes fail; be more flexible about how, when and where people work — while at the same time raising standards and output expectations from “good enough” to the pursuit of excellence.

    Measure your progress

    Shifting to a healthier lifestyle isn’t easy and takes time — and the same holds true for organisations craving a creative culture. Avoid sliding back to your old ways by measuring your progress. The data tell you which strategies and regimens work and which you need adjusting. And seeing progress creates momentum to intensify and sustain the change.

    On a personal level, you regularly track vital signs (resting pulse rate, blood pressure, weight) and annually check how your lifestyle changes are reflected in key health indicators on a cellular level.

    In just the same way, organizations should work together with innovation experts to develop their individualized set of innovation-related key performance indicators on three levels (inputs, throughputs, outputs) that get tracked on a quarterly and annual basis.

    Contact us if you want to find out how we can jointly co-create a innovative change in your organization and help you cultivate a creative culture.

    © Dr. Detlef Reis 2016. This article was published in parallel in the Bangkok Post under the same title on 8 December 2016.

  • Understanding the cycles of change using TIPS (Part 2)


    In Part 1 of this article, we looked at the driving forces of change in societies by looking at four traditional roles that underpin most societies: a smart scholar or academic; a progressive merchant or entrepreneur; a collegial farmer or worker; and the rule-enforcing warrior or cop. We learned how these four traditional roles are associated with the four bases — Theories, Ideas, People, and Systems — of TIPS, Thinkergy’s innovation people-profiling method. 

    Today, allow me give you more insights into how to ride the cycles of change in society and business by looking at the four TIPS bases through another lens: the concepts of evolutionary economics and long cycles of Joseph Schumpeter and Nikolai Kondratiev.

    A brief introduction to Schumpeter

    Roughly a hundred years ago, the Austrian economist Joseph A. Schumpeter proposed a radically new theory of macroeconomics. Inspired by Darwin’s theory of evolution, evolutionary economics focuses on the non-equilibrium processes —especially technological and institutional innovations— that transform an economy from within and drive the cycles of change:

    • Most established industries are in a state of balance and relative stasis — the macroeconomic equilibrium that Schumpeter acknowledged as “the normal mode of economic affairs”, in which a few market leaders dominate the industry. According to Pareto theory (80/20 thinking), around 20% of companies in any industry make around 80% of revenues generated in that industry. Typically, two or three command the highest market shares, two or three follow at a distance, and a myriad of smaller players vie for the balance.
    • Over time, new research and new technologies surface. Progressive entrepreneurs and agile ventures operating at the fringes of an established market space recognize these as a business opportunity and pick them up. While the incumbents are preoccupied with “milking the cow”, making incremental improvements and fighting tactical battles for market share, entrepreneurs enter the market space with a truly innovative technology. As Schumpeter emphasized: “Innovations are changes which cannot be decomposed into infinitesimal steps.”
    • If the entrepreneurs succeed, their “disruptive technology” upsets the established order of economic life. They become the dominant players of a new market, and the incumbents fall behind.
    • Eventually, a once mighty outdated corporation or its flagship business gets acquired or is closed. Schumpeter called this process “creative destruction”, describing it as follows: “The opening up of new markets, foreign or domestic, and the organizational development from the craft shop and factory to such concerns as U. S. Steel illustrate the same process of industrial mutation — if I may use that biological term — that incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one. This process of Creative Destruction is the essential fact about capitalism.”
    • Radical shifts in lead technologies disrupt the traditional order of markets and societies, and instigate major social changes. As Schumpeter observed: “Capitalism inevitably and by virtue of the very logic of its civilization creates, educates and subsidizes a vested interest in social unrest.”
    • How does the story continue? Over time, a new equilibrium establishes itself in the new industry. The leaders of the now dominating new market eventually become part of the economic establishment and comfortably enjoy the returns of their disruptive innovation — until a new disruptive technology comes along. A new macroeconomic cycle has begun, giving birth to a new industry and a new round of creative destruction of the old.

    The long waves of economic change

    Schumpeter and the Russian economist Nikolai Kondratiev both observed that major shifts in lead technologies happen in long cycles that flow in waves (known as Schumpeter-waves or Kondratiev-waves). What long cycles and related lead technologies can we distinguish?

    Water power, textiles and iron led the first wave (ca. 1785-1845), followed by steam, railway and steel (1845-1900). Electricity, chemicals and automobiles powered the third wave (1900-1950), followed by petrochemicals, aviation, and electronics in the fourth wave (1950-1990). The current fifth wave is driven by digital networks, software, and new media (1990-2020).

    What industries will dominate the next wave (2020-2045)? In his book The Sixth Wave, John Moody predicts that resources efficiency and clean technologies will be major drivers.

    By the way, have you noticed that the duration of the long waves seems to shorten? And so does the life span of corporations. The cycles of change are accelerating — or to put it in the words of Schumpeter: the incessant process of creative destruction is speeding up.

    Evolutionary economics, long cycles and TIPS

    Our innovation people profiling method TIPS distinguishes four bases that drive the behavior of individuals and organizations, industries or economies alike: Theories, Ideas, People and Systems. How do the evolutionary economic processes that drive the cycles of change relate to the four bases of TIPS?

    • An established industry resting in a macroeconomic equilibrium is Systems-driven. A few mighty corporations dominate the industry and focus on keeping control and defending their commanding market shares. Typically, they are too busy with themselves and their established peers to notice emerging trends on the horizon, thus facing the threat of creative destruction by a new disruptive technology.
    • Over time, the Theories base produces new base and applied research that crystallizes in new technologies, the catalyst of transformative change.
    • Entrepreneurs and agile ventures at the Ideas base are the first to recognize the market potential of an emerging technology. Thanks to their appetite for both progress and profit, they are willing to undertake both the risks related to investing in the new technology and the efforts to turn it into marketable products.
    • Finally, the People base is needed to make a new technology and a related products a market success. People become the consumers of the new technology, paying for it with money earned in an old industry or by switching to work in the new industry.

    Over time, the successful entrepreneurial venture grows through the People base and solidifies into a large corporation at the Systems base. A new macroeconomic equilibrium sets in that years later will be unsettled by the start of a new long cycle. And so flow the cycles of change, the incessant economic cycles of creation and creative destruction.

    Wanna learn more about our new innovation people profiling method TIPS? Take a look at this video — and contact us if you want to be informed of the launch of our new online profiling platform in a few weeks.

    © Dr. Detlef Reis 2016. 

  • TIPS Figure vs. Fantasy


    The last preference Figure vs. Fantasy tracks if people are more left-brain or right-brain
    directed thinkers.

    This preference helps to identify who are the analytical “number-crunchers” (Figure) and who are the creative “dreamers” (Fantasy).

  • TIPS Brain vs. Brawn


    The third preference Brain vs. Brawn checks if people are abstract conceptual thinkers (Brain) or practical doers (Brawn).

    This preference helps to understand why in most firms, the doers and not the thinkers tend to rise to the top of the hierarchy.

  • TIPS Fact vs. Feeling


    Fact vs. Feeling expresses if people prefer to decide and communicate based on rational judgment and facts or based on their feelings and emotions. This preference helps to explain why some people cannot interact and communicate well with each other.

  • TIPS Form vs. Flow


    Form vs. Flow captures if people prefer to live in a highly structured, well-organized world (Form) or prefer things to be more flexible, changing and steadily evolving (Flow).

    It is the most important preference to explain differences in people’s innovation styles.