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    Should You Innovate With Your Customers or Not? Part 2

    In part 1 of this two-article series, we began exploring the ongoing debate in innovation as to whether or not companies should involve customers in their innovation efforts and act upon their ideas. I also presented arguments and success stories of both the proponents and opponents of customer involvement in innovation. The pro camp argues that we should listen to customers and innovate by giving them what they want. The contra camp counters that customers don’t know what they want until you give it to them. Contra camp aficionados include prominent creative business leaders such as Henry Ford, Akio Morita, and Steve Jobs. So which camp is right, and when? And how may we possibly reconcile the different views?

    Which camp is right?

    “There are two kinds of truth, small truth and great truth. You can recognize a small truth because its opposite is a falsehood. The opposite of a great truth is another great truth,” noted the Danish physicist Niels Bohr. I believe that the debate between proponents and opponents of customer involvement in innovation is a case of two great truths facing each other. Both sides of the debate have their valid arguments and supporting success stories to prove their points. 

    So who’s right? It depends on the situation — or in other words, what business context you’re in and what you want to achieve. You may ask the following questions to gauge whether or not you should listen to and involve your customers in an innovation project:

    • Do you want to focus on improving an existing process, product, or service? Or are you aiming to create a “new to the world”-innovation in your project? The more disruptive your targeted innovation, the less customer involvement is advisable. 
    • How complicated is your business and innovation challenge? How much do your customers know about your product and service, and the relevant domain knowledge and technologies? The less complex your innovation case, and the more intimately your customers are familiar with it, the more you can listen to them and involve them in the process. 
    • How much time do you have at hand to produce innovation results? The less time you have at hand for an innovation project, the more you should consider involving your customers. Listening to your customers’ expressed needs and ideas is a cost-effective  and fast way to improve existing processes, products, and services immediately or in the short run. However, it’s unlikely that these ideas and typically more incremental innovations will boost your revenues, profits, and margins in the medium- to long-term.
    • Whom do you target with the innovation? A mass-market, a smaller niche segment, or a narrow ‘tribe” of sophisticated elite users? The broader the market you target, the higher your risk of mistakenly listening to and innovating upon the wishes and suggestions of a non-representative sample of customers.
    • On what level of abstraction does the innovation challenge reside? • The narrower and more specific your innovation focus, the easier and more sensible it is to involve customers, vice versa.
    • How dynamic is your industry? How fast do trends change? The faster the speed of change, the more problematic it is to involve customers who typically lag behind trends.

    How to reconcile the opposing views?

    While pondering the contextual rules of thumb listed above, I spotted an overriding approach to reconciling the opposing positions of the two camps in the customer involvement in innovation-debate. Innovation projects vary in the degree of impact that they make in the market, and related, the time and efforts required to pull off an innovation. Consequently, we can distinguish four different innovation types with an accelerating risk-reward profile — continuous improvements, incremental improvements/innovations, evolutionary innovations, and disruptive revolutionary innovations (see the graphic below):

    • Involve customers intensively in innovation efforts that focus on continuous improvements in your processes, products, and services. For example, improving the consistency of a tuna salad and allowing customers to pick their strawberries (instead of having to buy them in prepackaged boxes) are customer ideas that the experiential grocery store chain Stew Leonard implemented successfully.
    • Customer involvement in innovation such as running focus groups may also work well for projects aiming at incremental improvements/innovations of existing products or services (say you want to get ideas or feedback from customers on a new taste or formula variation of a popular product).
    • Invite customers to participate in projects aiming for evolutionary innovations where you want to add substantially more value to your existing customers or expand your offerings to new customer segments. However, here you typically involve customers predominantly in the first stage of the creative process (the Xploration-stage in our X-IDEA innovation method). Thereby, you empathetically listen to them and observe them in their everyday lives interacting with the target object of the innovation project. Moreover, you may also ask them to give you feedback and suggestions on prototypes you’ve built in the critical, realistic evaluation phase. However, in the creative stages (Ideation and Development in X-IDEA) in between, you typically do your own thinking and create your own ideas (that may take inspiration from your learnings during the initial Xploration stage). Two weeks ago, I shared how Ingersoll Rand practiced this approach when they created a substantially improved grinder tool for their industrial clients. We also follow this modus operandi with Thinkergy when we guide clients (especially those from the food or FMCG-industries) through their evolutionary innovation projects with the help of X-IDEA.
    • In your projects targeting revolutionary innovations, however, best practice suggests not to involve your customers actively. This is because they may lack the necessary knowledge on technology, trends, and maybe even their wants and needs related to a “new to the world”-technology or product. For example, while working on the iPhone and iPad, Apple’s development team sought feedback only from its internal “one-man focus group” (named Steve Jobs). As we also discussed in part 1, Akio Morita similarly developed the Sony Walkman with a small product development team against the advice of market research and his internal marketing and finance people (and subsequently sold 400 million units of the Walkman). And thanks to Henry Ford’s unwillingness to listen to customers, we leaped to driving in cars instead of riding on faster horses.

    Suppose you’re a member of the pro camp and are unconcerned of potential confidentiality issues. What if you insisted on involving customers in a project pushing for creating a revolutionary innovation? In that case, my advice would be to invite those customers to participate in an innovation project workshop with a more progressive mindset and personality. How can you find them? By using a personal assessment tool created for innovation. For example, Thinkergy’s innovator profiling system TIPS identifies four such trendy, avant-garde profiles located around the Ideas-base. Ideators, Conceptualizers, Promoters, and Imaginative Experimenters tend to be ahead of their times. They can contribute a mix of geeky, trendy, fashionable, or creatively destructive thinking to broaden your internal project team’s views and inspire bold ideas.

    Conclusion: Customer involvement in Innovation? It depends

    Involve your customers in your innovation projects, and listen to their ideas if

    1. they’re familiar with your products and services,
    2. you want to continuously or incrementally improve these,
    3. you want to evolve your product to a more contemporary version, and
    4. you’re in an industry that is close to your customers’ everyday lives and moves slow enough to allow your customers to keep up with trends and the speed of change.

    In all other cases, limit your customers’ involvement in seeking input and feedback at the front- and back-end stages of the innovation process. And especially when you work on a revolutionary innovation that can potentially disrupt the market, better think, and create progressively in your internal innovation team.

    • Do you belong more to the pro or contra camp of whether or not to involve and follow through on customers’ ideas while innovating? Or do you have any other thoughts and ideas that support your side of the debate — or can reconcile the two views?
    • Do you plan to do an innovation project soon? Regardless of whether or not you want to involve customers in your project, please consider inviting Thinkergy as your external expert innovation process guides. Our innovation facilitators would love to guide your team towards tangible innovation results with the help of our award-winning X-IDEA innovation methodContact us if you would like to learn more.

    © Dr. Detlef Reis 2020


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    Should You Innovate With Your Customers or Not? Part 1

    To what extent should innovators listen to customer ideas and suggestions while innovating? There is an interesting debate in the innovation domain between proponents and opponents of involving customers in innovation endeavors and of following their ideas. Today, let’s first hear from each camp, then explore different contextual situations that may influence the arguments of either side and finally propose some possible solutions to reconcile the different views.

    The Pro camp: Why customer involvement in innovation is beneficial

    Lou Rossi, the Chief Commercial Officer at the marketing and advertising group Publicis, argues that “More than 50 percent of innovation comes from the voice of the customer.” If he’s right, we’d better embrace our customers’ ideas and feedback, just like they do it at Stew Leonard’s and Ingersoll Rand.

    Stew Leonard’s is a family-owned regional US chain of experiential farm-fresh grocery stores. One reason behind the stores’ phenomenal success is that it is excessively customer-centric, as best expressed by its simple company policy (“Rule 1: The customer is always right. Rule 2: If the customer is ever wrong, reread Rule 1”). But there’s another success secret — the family business’s continuous improvement initiatives based on customers’ ideas:

    From its early days, Stew Leonard’s has involved customers and their ideas in their efforts to making its stores better. At Stew Leonard’s, customer suggestion boxes are filled to the brim every day. Moreover, customers volunteer their Saturday afternoons for participating in focus groups in which they suggest their ideas on how to make Stew Leonard’s stores better.

    The owners of the family business described the secret behind Stew Leonard’s growth as follows: “It’s all about listening to the customers and doing what they say.” When they give customers what they want, they see that Stew Leonard’s acts upon their ideas, and tell their friends about it.

    Involving customers in innovation also seems to work well for innovation initiatives targeting the upgrade of existing products and services. In their book In Search of Excellence, Tom Peters and Robert Waterman tell the tale of a successful product upgrade innovation story involving Ingersoll Rand, an American industrial tool-maker. One of the firm’s leading tool distributors challenged Ingersoll-Rand to develop a more innovative grinder tool within a year—or they’d sign up a competitor to distribute their tools:

    In the early stages of the project, the innovation team visited end-users of their grinders to observe first-hand how they interacted with their tools. To their surprise, they spotted that the workers looked like medieval warriors. They were wearing body armor and helmets to protect all their upper body parts and had wrapped tape around their tool-holding hands to prevent their fingers from accidentally slipping into the grinding surface spinning at 7,000 rpm. The innovation team also interviewed their “real customers,” the workers who, while not purchasing the tool, have to hold it 8 hours each workday to grind off metal edges from molded parts.

    The insights that the team gained exploring the harsh lives of their “real customers” informed the subsequent ideation and development process. The decisive criterion of whether to include an idea in the final product was: “Does this feature make end-users’ lives better?”

    Finally, when the team tested the new product prototype with some workers, one of them commented: “The tool is really okay. But you know what? Now my hands don’t hurt anymore in the evening.” And the Ingersoll-Rand team knew that thanks to involving customers in the new product development process, they had a winner.

    The Contra side: Why customer involvement in innovation is not advisable

    Henry Ford famously said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” The inventor of the moving assembly line rightly highlights that when you ask customers, they tend to suggest ideas that reflect their current needs and what they feel comfortable with, and rarely constitute more radical departures from the established status quo. But as the anonymous quote goes, “True innovation is coming up with a product that the customer didn’t even know they needed.”

    Opponents of deeper customer involvement in innovation efforts such as Apple’s Steve Jobs argue that customers often lack intimate knowledge of what is technologically possible and feasible:

    In Leander Kahney’s book Inside Steve’s Brain, Apple’s former CEO John Sculley relates that while always focusing on the customer experience, Steve Jobs didn’t believe in going out to do consumer testing and asking people what they wanted. Why? “How can I possibly ask someone what a graphics-based computer ought to be when they have no idea what a graphics-based computer is? No one has ever seen one before,” argued Steve Jobs.

    Jobs also gave further rationales of why he doesn’t want to involve customers in innovation projects aiming for a disruptive “new to the world”-tech product (such as the iPod, the iPhone or the iMac): “We have a lot of customers, and we have a lot of research into our installed base. We also watch industry trends pretty carefully. But in the end, for something that complicated, it’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”

    Steve Jobs was not the only CEO of a technology company that didn’t believe in listening to customers’ ideas while creating disruptive high-tech products—another one was Akio Morita, one of the Co-Founders of Sony Corporation:

    “Our plan is to lead the public with new products rather than ask them what kind of products they want”, writes Morita in his autobiography Made in Japan. “The public does not know what is possible, but we do. So instead of doing a lot of market research, we refine our thinking on a product and its use and try to create a market for it by educating and communicating with the public. Sometimes a product idea strikes me as a natural. As an example, I can cite a product that surely everybody knows of, the Walkman.”

    The Sony Walkman sold more than 400 million times even though market research surveys suggested customers didn’t want such a technology. Customers couldn’t envision the finished product offering a small device playing music for personal use. Interestingly, Morita had to personally push his product idea into the market even against the vocal opposition of his product development team, and Sony’s marketing and finance departments. “Nobody openly laughed at me, but I didn’t seem to be convincing my own project team, although they reluctantly went along,” noted Morita.

    What are other counterarguments of opponents of listening too much to customers’ ideas in innovation?

    • Customers may have unrealistically high expectations of what they want or need. Or at the other end of the spectrum, they may satisfy with a way too low solution given what’s already possible. This is because often they don’t carefully follow emerging trends and know what’s state-o-the-art in a particular product niche, category, or industry.
    • Customers may also lack more profound domain expertise and experiences to give more discriminative feedback.
    • Customers may represent a wide spectrum of diverse customer types. The few you survey, interview, or invite to focus group may not be a representative sample of your “average customer”. Following the advice of a few “odd users” who don’t align with the majority may lead you down a wrong pathway. They might encourage you to design a product that pleases the needs of a few (sampled) while ignoring most needs of the many (not part of your sample).
    • In a small project team, it is easy to preserve secrecy about a “new to the world”-innovation you’re working on. When you involve customers here, it is likely that at least one of them intentionally or accidentally leaks information to the press, followers, and competitors.
    • Finally, listening too much to your customers’ ideas will blur your thinking if you are a creator who insists upon originality. For example, Steve Jobs believed that outstanding creativity in the arts and technology could not flow if you ask people what they want.

    Interim conclusion: There seems to be more than one truth

    In the debate on whether to involve customers in innovation efforts and act upon their ideas or not, both sides seem to have good arguments and success cases. So which camp is right? And how to possibly reconcile the different views? Come back to this column in two weeks. Then, we will continue the debate by considering different contextual situations in innovation that may tip the balance to one side or the other.

    • Are you a proponent or opponent of customer involvement in innovation and following customers’ ideas? Why? And do you have any other good arguments that support your side of the debate?
    • Do you plan to do an innovation project soon? Do you consider involving your customers in the effort or not? Please take a look at our X-IDEA innovation method that we use to guide our clients towards innovation results. And contact us if you would like to learn more about how we may help you with your concrete innovation project.

    © Dr. Detlef Reis 2020.



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    How to Quickly Bounce Back After Losing a Job (Part 2)

    Two weeks ago, I shared with you the first six of twelve recommendations on how you can bounce back after losing your job in a pandemic-plagued, depressed economy: Recollect yourself after the knockdown. Reframe your situation and embrace the opportunity. Release and let go of the baggage. Rediscover your true identity. Revalue your true worth. Recalibrate yourself and take a positive outlook while facing your present reality. 

    In today’s final part of this two-articles set, you can learn about the remaining six action strategies you can use to pivot your career after a job loss. And of course, my twelve action recommendations also work if you want to proactively design a second career that you want to transition gradually into in the coming years.

    7. Recognize your values

    “Your core values are the deeply held beliefs that authentically describe your soul,” said the American author and leadership coach John C. Maxwell. The next thing that you should do to sharpen your core identity is to spell out your core values. Your values describe your principles or standards of behavior and your view of what is essential in life. For example, my topmost values are creativity, freedom, education (learning and teaching), and achievement.

    Why is it necessary to recognize your key values? These clarify how you prefer to do things and simplify decision-making. For example, when I assess an opportunity, I simply ask a few questions related to my values:

    • Does the project excite me and allow me to be creative? 
    • Do I have the freedom to decide how to approach and execute it? 
    • Can I learn something from it? Or does it provide me with an opportunity to teach something worthwhile to others? 
    • Would a successful completion of this project feel like a worthwhile achievement and investment of my time? 

    If the answer to most or all of these value-aligning questions is “yes, “I will go for the opportunity. “When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier,” accurately noted Walt Disney’s brother Roy.

    8.Realize your passions: Do what you love doing

    If you ask people about their least and most favorite day of the week, most people name Monday as their least favorite and either Friday, Saturday or Sunday as their most favorite day. What does this tell us about them? They dislike their work. They only do their job because of the money it pays. 

    How about you? How much do you love your job? Do you like it so much that you hardly can’t wait to get back to work each day?

    Steve Jobs commented that after he got fired from Apple in 1985, “I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love.” In other words, you’ve got to find your passion.

    Unfortunately, nine out of ten people settle for a job that pays the bills but doesn’t profoundly touch their heart and soul. When they started, work felt good, as there were still many things to learn, and they enjoyed the external recognition and perks that came with it. But as time passed, many people are proficient in their job but don’t feel passionate about what they do. They don’t burn for it. And while most jobs are secure in normal times, they may eventually be asked to leave when times are bad. When organizations need to downsize to survive, who are the least likely to lose their jobs? Those who are both competent and passionate about their profession.

    So when you design a second career that will keep you in work until or well past your retirement date, find something that you love doing. And remember the words of Steve Jobs: “If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.”

    9. Reveal your purpose

    “Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart,” noted Steve Jobs. We all have to pass on one day, perhaps sooner than we think. What positive contributions will you make to humanity that go beyond satisfying the immediate needs of yourself and your close kin? Why are you here?

    We’re living at a time when the world needs more people who not only work for the money but do important work that they feel someone needs to be doing. We may call these purpose-driven people real-life superheroes. Because just like superheroes, what gets them going is the intrinsic motivation to fight for a worthy cause larger than oneself.

    Can you picture a new role that allows you to contribute to a worthy cause and gets you paid? What superhero purpose can you imagine committing to? If you haven’t found one, consider exploring the UN Sustainable Development Goals 2030 to discover what crucial human development cause resonates most with you. In my case, it’s the goal no. 4 (Quality Education), which connects nicely to my purpose of developing creative leaders and innovators.

    10. Reassess the odds of success

    You may have worked for years or even a decade or more in a specific role in a particular profession or industry (for example, you might have been a credit analyst in the banking industry). Apart from reassessing your passion, it would help if you also reassessed how well your profession and industry will go forward. Why? 

    In the 2020s, many well-established industries are predicted to face major disruptions and transformations due to technological shifts in the new technologies that will drive the Sixth Wave (digitalization, clean-tech, and bio- & human-tech). The current health crisis and related economic crisis will likely speed up, front-load, and exaggerate these transformational trends. Moreover, digital transformation and automation will reduce the number of white-collar jobs in well-reputed professions and industries. What does this mean if you’re hunting for a job or plan to design your new career? 

    You might need to move to a different industry with good growth prospects for the coming decades. So, if you worked as a financial advisor or a credit analyst in a bank who recently cut headcount, and you enjoy this kind of work (see point 8). Then, you may want to explore becoming a digital currency advisor or a data analytics manager in a fin-tech company. Of course, this may require you to take classes to acquire new know-how and develop new skills. (We all will have to invest time and money to reskill and upskill ourselves to keep up with the transformations of business we’ll see unfold in this decade).

    11. Realign yourself to a suitable career ecosystem

    In TIPS, Thinkergy’s personality assessment tool for the digital innovation economy, we include a section in the report called “Hot or not?” Therein, we tell you what ecosystems (business functions, industries, organizational types) are “hot fits” for your particular TIPS profile and your related cognitive style. The report also warns you of “not” ecosystems that you ought to better avoid. What’s the difference between the two? If you work in a “hot” ecosystem, work feels EEE (easy, effortless, and enjoyable), while in a “not” environment, it feels DDD (difficult, de-energizing, and drudging). 

    Ask yourself: How well did you fit into your old role? Did it feel EEE? If it was a “hot fit,” why did they let you go? If you think the fit was not ideal, ask yourself: What other ecosystems might be a better fit for me? (Or even better, take the TIPS online test for USD 89 to unveil your TIPS profile and find out more about your related “hot” ecosystems).

    12. Rearrange the pieces until a splendid new career picture reveals itself

    Once you have collected all essential mosaic pieces that you need to design your new career, lay them all out on the floor. Look at each piece individually, then step back to take in the full picture, and ask yourself a couple of questions: 

    “So what? So what does it all mean for me? How can I align my identity, talents, values, passions, and purpose in a new career that allows me to make meaning and make money in the next one to two decades? Should I shift to a new professional role, industry, business function, or organizational type that aligns with my unique ingenuity, or that offers better odds of success given the transformation of the economy in the coming years?”

    Then, begin shifting and rearranging the mosaic pieces until suddenly, a picture of an exciting new career emerges in front of your mind’s eye. The more effort you’ve put in all preceding stages of the development process, the clearer, more energizing, and more beautiful your vision of a new career should be. And this clarity, energy, and beauty will give you the creative transformational momentum and stamina to make it happen. As Richard Buckminster Fuller noted: “When I am working on a problem, I never think about beauty but when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong.”

    Conclusion: The comeback is always greater than the setback

    “Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary,” said Steve Jobs. Consider following Apple’s ingenious innovator’s advice if you have to pick yourself up from a recent job loss, or if you want to proactively prepare for a second career that keeps you happy and active well past reaching the official retirement age. 

    We cannot control what happens to us, but we do have control over how we respond to it. Follow the example of Thomas Edison, Walt Disney, and Steve Jobs and transform a job loss into the start of a self-determined new career in line with your true identity, values, passion, and purpose — or in other words: in line with your unique genius. 

    • Have you recently lost your job due to the COVID-19 crisis? Or are you concerned your job might be on the line? What if someone took you by the hand and guided you step-by-step through the 12 steps to discovering an exciting new career in harmony with your unique genius? We’ll be soon launching an online course that we will be running later in Q3.2020 that will do just that:
      • In the program, we will first help people recognize their true talent with the help of TIPS. 
      • After that, we will guide a selected few applicants through the twelve steps to rediscover your genius (based on chosen exercises and contents from our Genius Journey method).
      • Finally, we help you design a new career that is in harmony with it.
      • Contact us if you would like to learn more once we release the program.
    • Would you like to learn more about TIPS? Check out our TIPS website to learn more about our 21st-century personal assessment tool for business and innovation. And consider taking the TIPS online test (USD 89) to uncover your TIPS profile and preferred cognitive styles.

    © Dr. Detlef Reis 2020

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    Hot or Not? A Modern-Day Parable of the Talents

    What if a personality test used by your company to profile its staff revealed that someone is not in alignment with their true talents? Should you hide the truth?

    Failed pitches in business are an excellent opportunity for learning. Some time ago, two innovation managers working at the European head office of a Multinational Corporation in a mature industry had expressed interest in TIPS, Thinkergy’s innovator profiling tools for individuals, teams, and companies. We had agreed to explore if TIPS is a fit for this company in a conference call. I also offered free TIPS online test coupons to allow them to check out our innovator profiling tool. Both came out with a clear, distinct TIPS profile (Ideator and Partner). At the beginning of our call, I asked them how they like their profiling result. They acknowledged that their TIPS profile aligns well with how they see themselves. However, the two innovation managers lacked the usual enthusiasm that people with a fitting profile express. I immediately sensed that something was wrong — and that we wouldn’t have a deal. Curious to understand why I invited them to comment on TIPS. What I learned triggered me to write this blog post unveiling an interesting dilemma many managers and organizations face. 

    A surprising negative feedback

    After completing the TIPS online personality test, users receive a 36-page report with their profiling results. This is comprehensive for a reason: Whenever I invested time and money to check out other personal assessment tools and received reports of four pages or less (and often even only one page), I felt as if I was being short-changed. One of our values at Thinkergy is offering meaningful value to our customers in return for the money they pay. Hence, while designing TIPS, I wanted to make sure that compared to other competing tools in the market, our profiling reports provide much more meaningful value for the price we charge for a TIPS online test (USD 89). In the end, I settled on 36 pages for the TIPS report. We know from test users we surveyed that most of them valued the report’s depth and breadth with lots of real business and innovation applications. 

    Back to our phone call: When the two innovation managers stated that our TIPS report is too long, I was surprised. They were looking for a tool with a report of 4-5 pages at a maximum, as most of their colleagues were too busy to read longer texts. As an academic, I viewed this feedback as an intellectual declaration of defeat; and as a creative leader, I regard it as a lack of open curiosity, a missed opportunity to learn more about oneself. But this unexpected feedback gave me an idea: Within the next year, we may offer the TIPS test as a basic version (4 pages for USD 39) and complete version (36 pages for USD 89).

    However, I felt that the length of the report wasn’t the real issue bugging my counterparts. As both managers belong to Gen Y, I sensed that they probably felt apprehensive about bringing a comparatively new personal assessment such as TIPS into their long-established organization. So, I invited them to tell me what else they think is wrong with TIPS. To my even greater surprise, they disclosed what they really dislike in the TIPS profiling report: a section titled “Hot or not”. 

    Introducing the "Hot or Not?"-ecosystem check of TIPS

    Our detailed TIPS report first informs test users about their TIPS innovator profile and their preferred cognitive styles (to think, work, interact, and live). The report then features special sections that suggest how users can apply their profiling results to perform better in business and innovation. 

    One of these application sections is called “Hot or not.” Here, we outline what ecosystems are “hot” fits for each TIPS profile. Thereby an ecosystem can be a particular industry, a business function, or an organizational type. When you work in a “hot” ecosystem that suits your TIPS profile, then your work feels easy, enjoyable, and effortless most of the time. In contrast, when you’re stuck in a “not” environment (that doesn’t fit your profile), work feels more like a difficult, de-energizing drudgery (DDD) on most days.

    The “hot or not”-ecosystem recommendations in the TIPS report can help test users to find a suitable career environment that feels intrinsically motivating and allows them to perform at a peak level. Or using Einstein’s analogy: This section helps a fish to end up swimming in the water and a monkey climbing trees. Little wonder that user feedback during the development phase of TIPS confirmed that many test users love this section in the report. Moreover, research revealed that TIPS users regard this section’s contents as a personal career guide. 

    Digging deeper to unveil a talent management dilemma

    When I asked my counterparts why they disliked the “Hot or not”-section, the manager profiled as an Ideator stated that this section was wrong, as it lists the industry in which she’s working as a “not” industry for her profile type. I suggested that perhaps, she hadn’t read her report in detail, and explained:

    Only one of the three “hot or not” ecosystems parameters (industry, business function, or organizational type), and not all parameters, need to be in the “hot” area to make it a fit and make someone like and succeed in their work. 

    Because she worked as an innovation facilitator, she was in a “hot” business function for her Ideator-type, which is why she enjoys working in that industry at this point. 

    However, I also told her that as an Ideator, it was unlikely that she’d reach a C-level position in that industry, as most senior executives in that industry have a different profile.

    Probably because I was argumentative and passionately defended the accuracy of the section contents in the TIPS report —after all, the deal was lost anyway, and I wanted to find out what’s really going on here—, the innovation manager revealed the real reason behind her dislike of TIPS. She said: “We don’t like this section because it may tempt some talents in our ranks to leave their job for pursuing another career more in line with their talents.” I asked her: “So, you’d rather prefer to hide the truth from those colleagues who work in an ecosystem that is suboptimal for them — or even totally wrong?” She ended the discussion by plainly stating: “We just don’t like it.” 

    Finally, I figured out why these Gen Y innovation managers had reservations about bringing TIPS as a cognitive profiling method for innovation into their organization. They were apprehensive that TIPS might enlighten a few of their colleagues of an inconvenient truth: That they are working in a “not” environment. These colleagues would need to make a career change to better align their natural talents to a conducive ecosystem. They would need to move to a more suitable functional business unit, or better fitting industry, or another organizational type. 

    When good people were leaving their team or the company to pursue a better fitting career opportunity, other managers in the company might blame our two innovation managers for suggesting a personal assessment tool telling an inconvenient truth. 

    Why would organizations conceal the truth?

    I make a case that it’s a moral obligation for an organization to allow its talents to test their cognitive ecosystem fit as early as possible to give non-fits a chance to realign themselves to a more conducive environment. Why?

    1. Organizations and human capital managers who embrace TIPS can use the insights from a TIPS profiling exercise to carry out internal talent realignments. Put the right person into the right job. Offer colleagues in a “not”- to internally move to a “hot”-position. Such job realignments will positively impact their job performance and lead to higher rates of talent retention.
    2. If internal talent realignments are not feasible, proactive human capital managers may want to give those colleagues with a cognitive ecosystem mismatch an opportunity to realign their careers themselves and move from a “not” to a “hot” career environment externally. You may think here: “Why should a company do this? They risk losing a colleague with knowledge, experience, and contacts?” You have a point. But who would you rather have as a colleague? A colleague who reliably but dispassionately plods through his work in a “not”-role? Or a colleague who loves her work and goes the extra mile because she’s in a “hot” job?
    3. By 2030 at least 40% of tasks currently being done by humans are estimated to be replaced by artificial intelligence (AI) and robots. Automation will make some jobs redundant entirely. A 2017 McKinsey study predicts that by 2030, AI and automation will displace between 400 and 800 million jobs globally, and require another 375 million people to switch job categories completely. And guess who will be made redundant first? Those who passionately work in a “hot” job that is EEE to them? Or those who drudge along in a “not” job that feels DDD to them?

    Why did I include a “Hot or not”-section in the TIPS report?

    “If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live it’s whole life believing its stupid,” said Albert Einstein. A fish swims effortlessly in the water. A monkey joyfully swings from tree to tree. Correspondingly, each human talent deserves to be in the right career in a conducive ecosystem that allows them to perform at their best. I passionately believe in the importance of this maxim. To help test users to confirm or find their true career fit, I created the “Hot or not” section in the TIPS report. It motivated me to undertake the efforts and investments in TIPS after the blueprint of the TIPS method popped up in my mind one day. Why? 

    For one-and-a-half decades, I worked and performed well but dispassionately in a “not” environment (banking) instead of finding my sweet spot (creativity and innovation) that allows me to perform at peak levels early on in my career. I believe that such misalignments are a waste of talent, educational investment, and economic value for society. 

    Conclusion: Embrace an inconvenient truth to benefit your colleagues, your organization, and society at large

    Holding back an inconvenient truth may offer short-term benefits to some managers who otherwise may lose a well-functioning, but ultimately detached well-performer from their team. But by hiding the truth, you rob talented colleagues of the chance to realign their career. You prevent them from finding a job they’d genuinely enjoy and allows them to perform at their best. 

    Ultimately, hiding the truth leads to suboptimal results for companies who satisfy with employing well-performers instead of exploring ways to turn everyone into a top-performer. And it’s suboptimal for a society and economy which invests hundreds of thousands of dollars in bringing up and educating talents, but then fails to put these into fitting roles in the right ecosystem that allows them to perform naturally. So, take the TIPS test for yourself. As a manager, offer it to the members of your team. “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)

    • Do you want to learn more about TIPS and its abundant business applications? Check out our TIPS website or download our TIPS booklet.
    • Are you ready to get TIPS-ed now and uncover your TIPS profile for $89? Click here to get to our TIPS online personality test platform.
    • Are you interested in profiling your team or the entire company so that we can map out your results? And then, teach you in a webinar on how to better align your talents to thrive during disruption? Contact us to tell us more.

    © Dr. Detlef Reis 2020



  • Post Featured Image

    How to Build Teams That Thrive During Disruption

    The global COVID-19 pandemic has changed work as we know it. The virus has split up work teams whose members now need to work remotely. Team leaders need to motivate, emotionally support, and effectively manage a physically dislocated team of remote workers. Team members need to balance family life with their work and ensure that they both support their family and contribute to the team effectively and productively. 

    How can you make your team thrive during disruption? As a team member, how can you best contribute to your colleagues with your natural talents? And as a team leader, how can you get the best out of your team in times of crisis? How can you manage remote workers both effectively and empathetically? Enter TIPS, Thinkergy’s Innovator Profiling System designed for business and innovation success in the VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity) world of the early 21st century.

    Introducing TIPS

    TIPS uses four cognitive styles (to think, work, interact, and live) as well as four social attractor fields (the TIPS bases: theories, ideas, people, systems) to profile people into eleven distinct innovator profiles (All-Rounder, Coach, Conceptualizer, Experimenter, Ideator, Organizer, Partner, Promoter, Systematizer, Technocrat, and Theorist). 

    Every TIPS profile has a unique combination of TIPS styles and is attracted to one or more of the four TIPS bases. A work team typically comprises a mix of different profiles, cognitive styles, and base orientations. At the same time, certain TIPS styles and base orientations tend to dominate in most work teams based on their functional focus (e.g., sales, finance, operations). Understanding how to best utilize the different styles and bases in a work team is essential in normal times, and it becomes vital in times of crisis where every team member counts.

    How can you get the best out of your team during this crisis?

    Make everyone in the team play on their natural talents that are linked to their preferred cognitive styles and to the socio-economic environment that attracts them most. How?

    How to best utilize the different TIPS styles in your team in crisis times?

    a) The TIPS Thinking style: Figure vs. Fantasy

    The TIPS thinking style comes in three expressions: Figure-, Fantasy-, and Figure & Fantasy-thinkers. Most work teams have all of these thinking styles represented in the group. How to best utilize them during the crisis?  

    • Let the analytical Figure-thinkers in your team think through the financial, economic, and legal implications related to the crisis. They are also the best to scrutinize and interpret numbers correctly and then deduce appropriate action strategies for the team to move forward.
    • Use the creative Fantasy-thinkers in your team to collect new market intelligence. Then, let them connect the dots between all those many things that are going on in a hectic and chaotic market environment. Also, call upon your Fantasy-thinkers whenever it’s time to engage in creative problem-solving for urgent issues. Last but not least, let them create new or adapted products that cater to unique customer needs in crisis times. After all, the lockdown makes people form new habits that often will last, thus providing openings for new products, services, and solutions that cater to these new habits.

    b) The TIPS Work style: Brain vs. Brawn

    Based on their preferred work style, TIPS distinguishes people into Brain-, Brawn-, and Brain & Brawn-workers. How can you make the best use of the different work styles of your team members?  

    • Brain-workers are the best at taking in the strategic implications of the crisis for your industry, company, and team. These conceptual knowledge workers can picture different scenarios on how economies, markets, and industries might evolve as the crisis continues to unfold in waves of disruptive change. Then, they develop strategies on how to best respond to each scenario. Brain-workers also excel at predicting what political, economic, societal, and technological trends may emerge as a result of the crisis.
    • While Brain-workers focus on the big picture, let all Brawn-workers in your team take care of all the small picture issues of your business. These operational, hands-on knowledge workers enjoy dealing with the nuts and bolts of the business. They work through the many To-Dos and particular issues caused by the crisis and get things done. Moreover, they can help the team get organized in their new (remote) work reality.

    c) The TIPS Interaction style: Fact vs. Feeling

    The TIPS interaction style allows you to understand how the members of your work team prefer to make a case, decide, and interact with each other. Here, we distinguish between Fact-, Feeling-, and Fact & Feeling-interactors:

    • Invite your Fact-interactors to perform reality checks for the team. As truth-seeking realists, they enjoy separating fact from fiction. They confront over-optimism based on false hopes as much as unfounded doomsday prophecies and conspiracy theories. They scrutinize freshly emerging data to ensure unbiased decisions based on the most recent evidence. Especially in times of crisis, it’s also welcome that they catch and counter anyone engaging in B.S. (i.e., bullshit, nonsense talk, typically to be misleading or deceptive). 
    • Feeling-interactors provide comfort and emotional support to team members, customers, and anyone else who needs encouragement and help. These friendly, interpersonal members are the glue that holds a team together. By their nature, they take an empathetic point of view on a case and consider the consequences of decisions on the people they affect. On the other hand, they also suffer most from being asked to work remotely and from “social distancing” regulations. So, as a team leader, connect with your Feelers frequently to check how they’re doing and show that you care for them.

    d) The TIPS Lifestyle: Form vs. Flow

    TIPS differentiates the members in your team based on their preferred lifestyles into Form-, Flow-, and Form & Flow-people:

    • Authorize your Form-people to implement —and ensure compliance to— all the crisis-related regulations, policies, and procedures that ensure everyone’s safety and health. Also, use your Form-people to identify crisis-related dangers and risks for your business, and to devise protective risk management strategies to mitigate and minimize the related negative implications. By the way, as a team leader, there’s no need to check on those dutiful, reliable Form-people in your team. At 8 a.m. sharp, they’re likely to sit in formal work attire at their desk at home to begin their workday.
    • While Form-people hedge your business against the downside of the crisis, the Flow-people in your team can help you to realize its potential upside. These entrepreneurial, dynamic team members naturally spot new opportunities arising in a crisis. Then, they make suggestions on how to seize the most promising opportunities quickly. Flow-people also come up with bold ideas on how to reposition the business to flourish in the new post-crisis world. They know that following a significant discontinuity, the world will not be the same again, and will not return to the old status quo. As a team leader, resist the temptations to check in often on your Flow-co-workers. Keep them on a long leash and give them flexibility with regards to work times, as they tend to work in leaps and bounds and need higher degrees of freedom to work at their best.

    Conclusion: Utilize the diversity in your team to thrive during crisis

    TIPS can help you to better respond to the crisis by making all members of your team play on their preferred cognitive styles and their dominant home base. Each of the TIPS profiles has a unique mix of talents linked to their TIPS styles and their dominant TIPS base. As a team leader, uncover those talents and activate them to make your team and business survive and thrive during the crisis. It’s a bit like in chess – every piece has its place on the board and can move in specific ways. As the game unfolds, move every figure with strategic foresight, and in harmony with their unique strengths — and you’re more likely to win the game.

    • Do you want to learn more about TIPS and its abundant business applications? Check out our TIPS website or download our TIPS booklet.
    • Are you ready to get TIPS-ed now and uncover your TIPS profile for $89? Click here to get to our TIPS online personality test platform.
    • Are you interested in profiling your team or the entire company so that we can map out your results? And then, teach you in a webinar on how to better align your talents to thrive during disruption? Contact us to tell us more.

    © Dr. Detlef Reis 2020

  • How to Communicate More Empathetically with TIPS?

    “When you show deep empathy toward others, their defensive energy goes down, and positive energy replaces it. That’s when you can get more creative in solving problems.” 

    - Stephen Covey

    Let’s face it: In business, we regularly need to convince people to embrace a new idea, to share our vision of a better future, to buy a new product, or take any other meaningful course of action. To convince people of a new idea, better communicate with empathy. Relate to their ways and show sympathy to their desires, wants, and needs. But how can you do this? How can you find out what makes them tick? Today, let’s discuss how you can communicate with greater empathy with the help of TIPS, Thinkergy’s cognitive profiling test for business and innovation.

    What does it mean to communicate and convince empathetically?

    Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. On the other hand, communication means the imparting or exchange of information or news; the term can also be defined as the successful conveying or sharing of ideas and feelings. Finally, to convince means to persuade someone to do something .

    Taken all together, we can say that when we communicate empathetically, we successfully convey information and share ideas and feelings with another person while being able to relate to and understand their feelings, wants, and needs. We want to communicate with greater empathy to persuade people to do something we believe is good for them.

    Why should you communicate more empathetically?

    “Empathy is one of our greatest tools of business that is most underused.”

    - Mexican-American billionaire businessmen Daniel Lubetzky

    When we empathize while communicating with other people, we pay respect to their world views and their preferred styles to think, work, interact, and live. We sympathize with their points of view. We talk the same language as them. We relate to their wants, desires and needs. We feel their challenges and pains. We put ourselves in their shoes and walk a mile in these to experience the world as they do. Showing empathy makes us aware that for most situations in business and life, there is more than just one truth. In short, sympathizing with others and communicating with greater empathy makes it easier to create win-win solutions. 

    How to plan and structure a more empathetic communication

    Widely popular in marketing, advertising, and sales, the AIDA model (attention, interest, desire, action) can help us to think about the different phases of empathetic communication:

    • Approach and attention: How to best approach people with a particular personality? How to best reach out and connect with them? How to get their attention?
    • Interest: How to open them up? How to engage them and get them interested in a topic?
    • Desire: How to make them gain a favorable disposition towards an idea? How to find a shared point of view that aligns both interests? What triggers can alleviate their pain or inspire their desire? 
    • Action: How to convince them and make them agree to a mutually beneficial course of action?

    It is important to point out that communicating with empathy and respect isn’t the same as manipulating people. When we interact empathetically, we look for ways to convince others to take a beneficial course of action that is good for them and us (win-win). In contrast, when someone communicates with the intent to manipulate, that person typically wants to influence others to take a particular action that solely or predominantly benefits themselves (win-lose).

    How to communicate more empathetically with people from different TIPS bases

    While you may not be able to guess someone’s TIPS profile right away, you probably have a rough idea about which TIPS base orientation a particular colleague or client of yours is attracted to. Your intuition about a person’s likely TIPS base may serve as a gauge to direct your communication approach. You may gain further hints if you listen for certain keywords that people of the different TIPS base tend to use frequently. (I discussed this in an earlier article  titled What “keywords” reveal about people’s personality). 

    So how can we communicate with greater empathy with the people from each TIPS base? 

    How to communicate more empathetically with “T-People” at the Theories-base?

    Approach & attention: Most people you find at the Theories-base (“T-People”) tend to be more private. If you want to initially make contact with them, then best do it in writing via email or more sophisticated social media such as LinkedIn. Before you compose your message, find out more about what’s their expertise. Then, ask a few precise questions to get them talking (such as “What research project do you currently work on?” or “What book are you reading at the moment?”). If you want to meet them in person, be respectful and courteous, and avoid “invading their space”. Ask for permission first before entering their office (e.g., “Excuse me, may I have a moment of your time?”).

    Interest: Prepare and research data and information in advance before talking with T-People. Let them take their time to get interested in talking to you. Tell them that you’re interested in their expertise, and give them a plausible reason why. Invite them to share their knowledge with you. Be a good listener, and ask precise questions to let them share their opinions. 

    Desire: To make T-People gain a favorable disposition towards an idea, get them to talk about the ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ of it. Then, ask them for their ideas on how to mitigate or resolve the cons that every idea has. Finally, line up a logical chain of arguments that leads to a definite conclusion supporting your line of thought that the idea is truly worthy.

    Action: Prepare and show hard logical evidence that highlights the value potential and feasibility of your idea. Alternatively, convince T-People with ‘demonstration’ (e.g., by showing a prototype). Convince T-People to agree to a suggested, beneficial course of action by showing that the evidence-supported idea both supports their favored theoretical perspectives and will work in practice.

     “Leadership is about empathy. It is about having the ability to relate to and connect with people for the purpose of inspiring and empowering their lives,” 

    - Oprah Winfrey. 

    How to communicate more empathetically with “I-People” at the Ideas-base?

    Approach and attention:  I-People are pretty informal and casual, so it’s comparatively easy to approach them provided you do this at the right time. Connect with them in the mid to late afternoon or early evening when they have completed their main creative work for the day and are open for fresh inspiration. The ideal way to grab the attention of an I-person is to take notice of what’s “individual” about them. I-People tend to be highly individualized and like to stand out from the crowd, so compliment them on an extravagant fashion accessory or a colorful piece of clothing that they use to flag their originality.

    Interest: At first, engage I-People in small talk about the latest trends in technologies, inventions, fashions, lifestyles, and traveling. Ask them about these trends and the ‘future’, then listen to their viewpoints and ideas and expand on them by sharing our opinion. Also, share information about new toys, gadgets, apps, tools or games with them, and ask them about their hobbies. 

    Desire: After you’ve gained an I-Person’s recognition as a worthy fellow-avant-gardist, it’s time to get down to business. Briefly explain what’s your challenge and related goal, and share the essential information. Then, continue by sharing your ideas or your vision of a better future. Make your pitch lively and energetic, and communicate using lots of visuals and fewer words. Finally, invite the I-people to contribute additional ideas to expand on your idea or vision. Open the door for them to showcase their creativity. Show them how much you appreciate their ideas, and treat them like a creativity ‘guru’ to keep them energized.

    Action: Convince I-People of your vision and persuade them to agree to support you or buy into your idea. Sell them the inspiration and the “product of the product”, the higher-order value of your idea. (For example, making humanity multi-planetary is the higher-order value behind Elon Musk’s vision of humans settling down on Mars. Musk believes pursuing this goal is essential to ensure humanity’s continuance as a species.) Emphasize the idea of “doing it together,” ask how to get started quickly, and support their ideas. Then, let them take action to take the first step and give them the freedom to do as they think is appropriate.

    How to communicate more empathetically with “P-People” at the People-base?

    Approach and attention: P-people are super-social, so they’re easy to approach almost anytime. If you don’t yet know them well, then first contact and befriend them on social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook, or approach them on a networking event. Then, invite them for an informal face-to-face meeting over coffee or lunch, and build a good relationship with them first and become familiar with other people in their work team or key social groups. Later on, regularly hangout together and buy and bring snacks and sweets when you meet. 

    Interest: Be talkative and casual when you meet with P-people. Talk about current affairs, fashion and lifestyle topics, and ask them about their hobbies, family and friends, and other colleagues in their team. If possible, include humor and jokes to your communication. 

    Desire: Share your view of a challenge that society, their community, or their business faces right now. Describe the situation, the challenge, and what we ideally want to achieve in a simple way. Speak with sincerity and honesty to them. Then, ask them to share their opinion on the issue. Suggest to brainstorm more ideas on how to address the issue together, and suggest your main idea alongside others while complimenting their ideas. Later on, come back to your main idea that you want them to embrace, then ask them for advice. Highlight the benefits of your idea to society, a community, or their business, and how you’d like to make this idea happen together. 

    Action: Show them that the idea and the related activities are not challenging to do. Suggest to implement the idea together and to jointly make it successfully. Then, take joint action and thank them for their help. After finishing the work, take them for drinks and hang-out together to celebrate the successful completion of the joint project.

    How to communicate more empathetically with “S-People” at the Systems-base?

    Approach and attention: Systems-people are formal and proper in their business conduct, so make an official appointment and create an agenda for an important meeting with them that you share in advance. If you call them by phone, arrange a time to talk or ask them if it’s convenient for them to talk now. Be organized and timely in your communications with S-people, and talk with clear purpose. 

    Interest: Get them talking first. Ask them: “What concerns you?” to learn more about their current issues and concerns. Then, share with them your idea on how you may help them alleviate their pains. Prepare specific information and a clear requirement for them that support your view. Be aware that S-people love to say “no” to ideas and find many reasons as to why not to do new things, and deal with any critical remarks from them in a positive, assertive way and not change anything

    Desire: Explain what is the situation that you want to help them to address proactively. Be direct and to the point. To counter their tendency to wait until the last minute before making a change, ask them the question: “What happens if you continue to do nothing?” Appeal to their sense for security and mitigating risks. 

    Action:  When you make a case to S-people, don’t leave room for imagination (they’re not into this). Prepare the pertinent facts, names, and evidence that supports your idea. Then, take the time to explain step-by-step what you want to do with them, thereby being as detailed and explicative as possible. Provide all missing & complete information like timeline, objective, etc., so they can see what’s it like and like and reasonable for them. Set a timeline and specify expected the results. Then, let them plan how to proceed best and take action by themselves. Most importantly, show them how your idea positively affects the bottom line, how it improves ROI, or how it increases efficiency. By providing detailed information, you can convince them that following your suggested course of action is a reasonable, feasible, and safe thing that they should do.

    Conclusion: Tune into the right frequency to empathetically broadcast your call to action

    How did I collect the information on how we may communicate with greater empathy with people from each TIPS base? This is based on the collective feedback of those people who populate each base on how they wish to be talked to and convinced of following a suggestion of taking a certain meaningful course of action. Let me explain.

    One of the many games and exercises we play with delegates attending one of our TIPS Innovation Profiling workshops is “The TIPS Empathy Game”. Thereby, we split the delegates into four “base teams” based on their dominant TIPS base. Then, using the AIDA questions as a guiding reference, each TIPS ‘base team” outlines how they intend to empathetically relate to the people from the other bases. Moreover, they also specify how to best approach, communicate with, and convince them. Finally, we go through each TIPS base and see how close the other teams meet the preferred communication needs that each base team outlined for themselves. For each presentation round, the “real base team” decides which of the other teams is closest to their preferred communication patterns and thus becomes its “Base Babe” (and earns points).

    • Would you like to find out more about our highly edutaining TIPS training for your team?
    • Do you want to learn more about TIPS? Take a look at our TIPS website and our brand new TIPS brochure.
    • Are you curious about what’s your TIPS profile? Buy your TIPS online profiling test coupon for USD 89 now.
    • Contact us to tell us more about yourself and how we may help you. 

    © Dr. Detlef Reis 2019

  • 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?


  • Who Should Be Trained In What?

    In times of exponential change, what keeps us employable and our knowledge and skills base relevant and up-to-date? Continuous learning. Of course, life-long learning is first and foremost and individual responsibility. But to continuously develop their human capital to meet the requirements of the workplace of the future, companies need to invest in up-skilling training, too. Here, a couple of exciting questions arise: Who should undergo what kind of training programs? Why? And how can you get more out of your time and monetary investments in training? 

    I give you a simple answer to all these questions: By aligning your human capital development efforts with the cognitive preferences of your human talents with the help of TIPS - Thinkergy’s cognitive profiling method for business and innovation.

    How TIPS supports human talent management

    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) into 11 innovator profiles, each of which occupies a dedicated space on the TIPS Profiling Map.

    Talent development is the fourth and last element of how to manage your human capital with the help of TIPS. So what are the other factors (that we already discussed separately in earlier TIPS articles):

    • Talent acquisition: Hire the right people for open positions. Ensure a cognitive fit between the responsibilities and requirements of particular vacant jobs and a candidate.
    • Talent awareness: Make everyone become aware of their personal “assets”, and play on their strengths, while using complementary profiles to compensate for one’s weaknesses. 
    • Talent (re-)alignment: Put the right person into the right job. Make everyone work in those functional areas, and do those things, that come naturally easy to them. If necessary, realign some team members to allow them to work in a position and role that better fits their natural talents.
    • Finally, talent development: Up-skill all of your talents with specific training programs that align with everyone’s individual capabilities and interests. In other words, expand and deepen the knowledge and skills repertoire in those areas that further their natural strengths, rather than improve on their weaknesses. So, who should be trained in what?

    Talent Development: What training contents fit what kind of cognitive profile?

    Naturally, the scope and topic range of learning and development programs vary by industry and organizational type. As such, the training topics I suggest below are more general and apply to a wide range of industries. Moreover, I believe in providing training in critical business thinking skills for the 21st century to all of your human talents (such as Critical Thinking, Creative Thinking, Visual Thinking, Problem Solving, Decision Making).

    With this in mind, what training courses and directions cater to the natural talents of each of the 11 TIPS profiles? Starting on the top left corner of the TIPS Profiling Map, and then moving around clockwise, let me introduce the different TIPS profiles and suggest sample training courses that these people tend to find appealing:

    • Theorists enjoy academic training courses such as Business Research Methodologies & Skills, Science Theory, as well as Quantitative Analysis & Statistics. They are also good at learning computer programming languages (such as Python, SQL, R). Finally, Theorists will be thrilled to take training courses in areas that will drive the Sixth Wave, such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Deep Learning, among others.
    • The geeky, strategic Conceptualizers are quick learners and natural big picture thinkers. So, they enjoy strategy-related courses (e.g., Strategic Management, Strategy Innovation) as well as in trend- and future-related courses topics (such as Technology Road-Mapping,  Future Thinking & Foresight Methods). As they link the Theories- to the Ideas-base, they also enjoy learning about newly emerging technologies, such as Big Data Analysis or  Blockchain. 
    • The Ideas-base at the top right of the TIPS Profiling Map is home to Ideators. These people delight in progressive training courses that equip them with knowledge and skills to help them in pushing boundaries. They love training in Business Creativity & (Disruptive) Innovation, and, if more senior, are ideal candidates for undergoing in Creative Leadership development program. Being the most dynamic profile in TIPS, they also relish learning about Entrepreneurial Thinking & Business Start-up Skills.
    • Connecting the Ideas- to the People-base in TIPS, Promoters love to learn about Marketing, Brand Management, and Public Relation Management. Nowadays, they eagerly sign-up for courses in Digital Marketing and Social Media Marketing, too. Promoters also take pleasure in upskilling training courses such as Presentation Skills, Persuasion Skills, and Copywriting. 
    • Sitting on the bottom right corner of the TIPS Profiling Map at the People-base, Partners are ideal candidates for training in Negotiation Skills and Sales Management. They also appreciate undergoing training in Customer Services and Customer Relationship Management (CRM). Other training courses that cater to their natural talents include Team Management, Product Management, Change Management, Diversity Management, and Emotional Intelligence.

    • Bridging the Theories- and Ideas-bases, Organizers are the ideal candidates for Project Management training programs. They also enjoy learning about Operations Management and Production Management, as well as Time Management.
    • Squarely rooted at the Systems-base at the bottom left of the TIPS map, Systematizers restructure, monitor and control the backend of business. As such, they believe it’s time and money well invested if you send them to training courses such as Performance Management (including specific methods such as the Balanced Score Card System), Corporate Risk Management & Compliance, and Quality Management.
    • Technocrats reconcile the Theories- with the Systems-base. They appreciate training courses that develop their quantitative-analytical and administrative business skills, such as Accounting, Financial Analysis,  Business Intelligence Analysis, Knowledge Management, as well as Business Law.
    • Coaches bridge the divide between the Theories- and People-base. They love learning more about humanistic topics, such as  Talent Management and Conflict Resolution. Theoretical Coaches are intrigued by courses in Philosophy or Business Ethics, while people-oriented Coaches enjoy taking classes in Leadership and (Life) Coaching.
    • Experimenters link the Systems- and the Ideas-bases. They may get a kick out of IT-related training courses (including Cyber Security). They also tend to enjoy practical “How To”-courses in areas such as Franchising, Lean Processes, Lean Start-Ups, as well as Industrial Design, Product Design & Prototyping.
    • Located in the center of the TIPS Profiling Map, All-Rounders exhibit multi-faceted talents because they are interested in and good at many things. Moreover, some young professionals at the beginning of their careers may also come out of a TIPS profiling exercise as All-Rounders, which is often because they still lack a broader repertoire of work experiences. So, how to best train these multitalented colleagues? Let them choose topics that interest and intrigue them, thus strengthening their knowledge and skills repertoire while at the same time giving them a chance to discover a direction into which they would like to specialize in going forward.

    Conclusion: Align training contents with learners’ natural interests

    Human capital development is more important than ever for companies to turn the digital innovation economy’s challenges into opportunities for further growth. Maximize your return on training investment by aligning the course contents with the cognitive preferences and natural interests of each of your talents. How can you start the process?

    • As an individual, buy an online test coupon for just $89 and get TIPS-ed now.
    • If you’re a business leader or corporate human capital manager, then contact us to profile all your talents with TIPS — and ideally also consider investing in a TIPS training to make the different styles come alive for everyone to see. 

    © Dr. Detlef Reis 2019


  • 11 Innovator Profiles: What Innovator Type Are You?

    Welcome to all of you in the New Year 2019! How can you skyrocket your career and improve the odds of success of your company in 2019? By innovating. After all, we’re in a new year, but we’re still in the Innovation Economy, where innovation is the name of the game.

    But how can you best contribute to corporate innovation with your natural talents and unique strengths? By understanding —and innovating in harmony with— your personal innovator type. Today, allow me to tell you more about the 11 innovator profiles of TIPS, Thinkergy’s Innovator Profiling System. 

    CLICK TO ENTER OUR "IGNITE INNOVATION CONTEST" FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN 100 TIPS INNOVATION PROFILES FOR YOUR ORGANIZATION.

    Introducing the 11 innovator profiles in TIPS

    In the following (in alphabetical order), I introduce you to the 11 innovator profiles that we distinguish in TIPS. Thereby, I will briefly touch upon each profile’s preferred cognitive style to give you a better understanding on how the different innovator types prefer to think, work, interact, live and innovate. Finally, you will learn what famous leaders exemplify the base orientations and preferred cognitive style of the 11 innovator types. Here we go:

    The All-Rounder:

    All-Rounders are the most flexible and well-balanced among all innovator types in TIPS. They are broadly talented. They can do almost anything well, and enjoy working in many different roles and on many different projects. All-Rounders can juggle many balls at the same time without dropping a single one, which makes them a valuable and well-liked team member in any innovation project. Charles Burgess Fry, Daley Thompson and Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner represent the spirit of such multi-faceted innovator types. 

    The Coach:

    Among all 11 innovator profiles in TIPS, Coaches are special as they are as rare as unicorns. This is because these philosophical innovators bridge a divide between the two polar TIPS bases Theories and People. Coaches care about the full development of the human potential. So, they prefer to direct their innovation efforts to the theory-based creation of educational, humanistic, or even spiritual products, services or solutions that elevate people to a higher level. Mahatma Gandhi, Carl Gustav Jung and Martin Luther King, Jr. may well represent this humanistic innovator type. 

    The Conceptualizer:

    Conceptualizers are geeky, brainy big-picture innovators who are all about the knowledge-based creation of concepts, methods and tools. These fast learners and thinkers quickly pick-up fresh knowledge and emerging technological trends springing out of the Theories-base, and transform these into new concepts, products and solutions. Conceptualizers enjoy joining projects that aim for creating disruptive change, and rather prefer to work alone as others can’t keep up with their speed of thinking. Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Albert Einstein are role models of this conceptual innovator type.

    The Experimenter:

    Experimenters are innovators who enjoy improving existing things (products, processes, business models, etc.) by systematically testing ideas. They love to take things apart and look “under the hood”, then gradually fix all the bugs they spot — something that doesn’t work as it should or is a suboptimal or unaesthetic design. Finally, they re-assemble the reconfigured parts into a new, improved and better whole. Henry Ford, Ray Kroc and James Dyson exemplify this experimental innovator type.

    The Ideator:

    For Ideators, life is all about ideas, innovation and change. Among the 11 innovator profiles in TIPS, they are the most daring, radical and dynamic innovator type. While Experimenters create something better out of something, Ideators have the drive and energy to create something new out of nothing — be it a new product, service, solution or experience, a new brand, or a new venture. They’re equally happy working on innovation alone or as part of a team for as long as the project pushes for bold, disruptive change. Leonardo da Vinci, Walt Disney and the older Steve Jobs are fine examples of this progressive innovator type.

    The Organizer:

    Organisers are hands-on, practical innovators who are all about organized service and operational excellence. Being grounded and down-to-earth, they naturally focus with all of their senses on all the small details of an operation. They prefer to innovate as part of a team, and are more adaptive in their style to innovate, meaning that they prefer to gradually and steadily improve on an existing process or service rather than creating it from scratch. Sam Walton, Fred Smith, and Winston Churchill exemplify this operational innovation type.

    The Partner:

    Partners are experiential, empathetic innovators who deeply care about people and relationships. Among all innovator types, Partners are the ones who best know what your customers think, say and —most importantly— feel about your value offerings and brand. They equally enjoy working on innovation projects that are more adaptive (targeting continuous or incremental improvements) or more innovative (aiming for producing an evolutionary or even revolutionary innovation) for as long as they can tackle the challenge together with others in a harmonious team. J. Willard Marriott, Lee Iacoccia and Herb Kelleher are possible examples of this most empathetic innovator type.

    The Promoter:

    Among all 11 innovator profiles, Promoters are the best of spreading the word about, and creating a buzz for an innovation. These creative, charismatic and witty communicators are able to find the right words that inspire people to take a desired course of action, such as rallying behind a new social or political idea, buying a new product, or falling in love with a cool new brand. Promoters enjoy working on more progressive innovation projects together with others in a team. David Ogilvy, Mark Twain and the young Steve Jobs are role models of this communicative innovator type. 

    The Systematizer:

    Systematizers don’t IN-novate, but rather RE-novate in an orderly and controlled way. This is because they prefer stable systems and processes, cherish traditions and favor preserving the status quo. As such, they prefer to continuously or incrementally improve successful “old ideas” over creating new ones. Systematizers practice an adaptive style to innovate, pardon me, renovate, and are indifferent working on such a project alone or together with other members of a trusted group. Andrew Carnegie, Lakshmi Mittal and George Washington are exemplary role models for this preserving innovator type.

    The Technocrat:

    Technocrats enjoy applying bits and pieces of a well-established body of domain knowledge (e.g., financial theories, laws and legal interpretations, accounting standards and principles, etc.) in new, improved ways. These quantitative, analytical thinkers prefer to innovate alone in a more adaptive way, thereby slowly but steadily improving and fine-tuning the “rulebooks” they’re working on, be it a new policy, accounting standard, investment principle, or financial opportunity, among others. Warren Buffet, Benjamin Graham and Li-Ka Shing represent the energy of this more administrative innovator type.

    The Theorist:

    For Theorists, life is all about theories, knowledge and the truth. These rational big picture thinkers love to work on abstract, logical and often numerical challenges. They prefer to work alone by either adapting an existing theoretical concept, or expanding the existing base of knowledge with a new theory or technological concept. As such, Theorists operate at the front end of innovation, often inspiring new innovation initiatives of others with their theoretical, conceptual contributions. Isaac Newton, Stephen Hawking and Thomas Jefferson may exemplify this evidence-driven innovator type.  

    CLICK TO ENTER OUR "IGNITE INNOVATION CONTEST" FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN 100 TIPS INNOVATION PROFILES FOR YOUR ORGANIZATION.


    Conclusion: All people are innovators, albeit embracing their own style, speed and base orientations

    What innovator type am I in TIPS? I am a clear-cut Ideator. I love change. I enjoy creating something new out of nothing — be it a new venture (Thinkergy) or new innovation methods (X-IDEA, Genius Journey, CooL and TIPS). 

    And you? What innovator type are you? Are you more like Bill Gates or Herb Kelleher? Steve Jobs or Warren Buffet? Walt Disney or Andrew Carnegie?

    Find out which of the 11 TIPS innovator profiles fits your personality and preferred cognitive style for just USD 88.88. (Is that a lucky number? You bet. Do we ask you to surrender your next bonus to shine light on your innovator profile? Nope). Given the bearish outlook for the stock market for the year ahead, it may well be the best investment you make in 2019.

    CLICK TO ENTER OUR "IGNITE INNOVATION CONTEST" FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN 100 TIPS INNOVATION PROFILES FOR YOUR ORGANIZATION.

    Click here to get TIPS-ed and discover your innovator type. 

    © Dr. Detlef Reis 2019

     


  • 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 Boost Work Productivity and Performance with TIPS

    “Stressing output is the key to improving productivity, while looking to increase activity can result in just the opposite”, noted the French post-Impressionist artist Paul Gauguin. Having produced more than 500 paintings in his 55 years of life, Gaugin clearly exemplified output focus at work. How does this compare to what’s going on in modern business? 

    Nowadays, countless businesspeople are frantically busy at work. Sadly, all too many of them forget that busy-ness doesn’t equate with productivity. Productivity is the quantity of output delivered in a certain amount of time (such as an hour, day, week, month or year). At the end of the day, business is about producing tangible results — of creating meaningful outputs that matter and which will make a positive difference. 

    But have you ever noticed that different types of people tend to be good at producing different kind of outputs? For example, salespeople who are good at closing deals are often poor in research. Geeks who first apply emerging new technologies and excel at forecasting trends tend to overlook important details when asked to organize a big event. Today, let’s understand with the help of the TIPS Profile why all of this is the case. 

    So, who is good at producing what kinds of outputs? And what does this all mean for executives charged to enhance productivity and performance?

    What is TIPS? And why can it help increase productivity and performance at work?

    TIPS, Thinkergy’s innovation profiling system, uses the four TIPS bases (theories, ideas, people, systems, which are social attractor fields that energize people’s activities) and the four TIPS styles (to think, work, interact and live) to connect people to one of 11 TIPS profiles (or innovator types). Each TIPS profile has a unique talent combination that allows a person to work well and thrive in certain conducive environments. 

    When your work focus aligns to your natural talents, it is EEE (easy, effortless and enjoyable) for you to produce outstanding work outputs; your excellent productivity and performance results advance both your company and career. If you work in an environment that doesn’t suit your styles and talents, however, work often feels DDD (difficult, drudging, and de-energizing); even if you try very hard to do well, your outputs rarely go above average. 

    So, wouldn’t it be great if you knew which target outputs you should focus on producing to play out your natural talents and perform at your best? And if you’re a manager, wouldn’t it be great to improve productivity and performance by better aligning everyone’s work and output focus? 

    What target outputs should each TIPS profile focus on?

    In the following, I propose a general “output category” that roughly outlines what kind of outputs each of the 11 TIPS profiles is best suited at producing. Then, I give you a few examples of how this can be translated into more concrete, tangible and —ideally— countable work outputs. Let’s explore one by one the primary output categories of each of the 11 TIPS innovator profiles. Thereby, on the TIPS Profiling Map, we move clockwise from top left along the four TIPS bases (Theories, Ideas, People, Systems):

    • Theorists deduce theoretical, scientific and arithmetical outputs.
      Of all the TIPS profiles, Theorists are the best at probing for evidence that reveals the truth. They enjoy verifying and advancing scientific theories; producing related research papers and academic books; writing code for computer programs, tech platforms and apps; creating new mathematical models; conducting complex statistical analysis, computing arithmetic solutions and deducing algorithms, among others. 
    • Conceptualizers conceive abstract, conceptual and forward-thinking outputs.
      Conceptualizers are the best at transforming knowledge into new concepts and applied technologies. They like to come up with new conceptual models, methods and tools; conceive consulting blueprints and related tailored solutions; build big data analysis platforms to unveil deep-level insights; create business plans and new business models; plot out trend maps, strategic road maps, and future scenarios; and the like.
    • Ideators create progressive, innovative and entrepreneurial outputs.
      Among all the TIPS profiles, Ideators are the ones who most relish change. Little wonder that they enjoy creating daring ideas for disruptive new products, services, solutions, experiences and concepts; imagine bold new visions of a more meaningful future; and start and often lead new business initiatives and start-up ventures, among others.
    • Promoters spin communicative, entertaining and inspirational outputs.
      Being charismatic, lively and funny, Promoters are the best to create a buzz for something new — be it a product, a brand, or a new movement or campaign. As such, they relish comping up with fresh brand designs; creative promotional campaigns for both traditional media and modern social media; witty slogans and taglines; attractive marketing brochures and materials; talk-of-the-town PR strategies and activities; blog articles and social media posts; and the like. Moreover, they also love to be on stage to “MC” an event, pitch an idea, or deliver a keynote or a sales presentation, among others.
    • Partners collaborate towards interpersonal, empathetic and deal-oriented outputs.
      Partners are all about other people and relationships. Of all the TIPS profiles, they tend to have the biggest network of contacts and the most harmonious relationships. Hence, they enjoy talking to existing customers in face-to-face meetings or in making phone calls; calling on and converting new prospects; closing a sale or striking a deal, and such like. 
    • Organizers sweat out operational, detail-oriented and serviceable outputs.
      Because they enjoy sweating the small stuff, Organizers are the best at getting things done. They enjoy producing concrete results day-by-day, be it manufactured articles; organized events; resolved customer service cases; processed and shipped orders, and so on.
    • Systematizers plod towards producing systematic, procedural and efficient outputs.
      Systematizers prefer producing outputs that add more structure to the backend of business, ensure procedural efficiency and compliance, and reliable performance of various organizational systems. As such, they focus on outputs like implemented and streamlined backend systems: redesigned business processes: executed compliance checks and reports; compiled rulebooks and compliance documents; performed performance checks and organizational restructuring; written performance reports and project reports, and the like.
    • Technocrats scrutinize information to produce administrative, legal and financial outputs.
      Among all the TIPS profiles, Technocrats most relish digging into and producing accurate financial accounts and reports, comprehensive legal texts, and administrative documents such as manuals, handbooks, administrative guidelines, as well as edited and revised texts of various kinds, among others.
    • Coaches relay philosophical, humanistic and motivational outputs.
      Coaches motivate humans to think, work, interact and live in better, more life-affirming ways. As such, their ultimate outputs are more enlightened human beings that —aligned to their natural talents— are able to better live up to their full potential. Outputs that Coaches produce en route to this noble goal include: motivational books, articles and other writings; personal and corporate value and mission statements; development goals and concrete action plans for individuals and teams; coaching calls and periodic progress assessments; and others.
    • Experimenters tinker with things to produce reconfigured, debugged and (re-)designed outputs.
      Compared to all other profiles, Experimenters have an obsession for taking things apart, to see what’s underneath the shiny surface, to notice bugs or things that can be improved, and then to end up with enhanced designs. So, they tend to come up with improved processes and fine-tuned systems; modified business models; redesigned and locally-adapted products and packagings; sketches, blueprints, mock-ups, and other prototypes; and the like.
    • All-Rounders contribute to a multitude of diverse outputs.  
      Last but not least, All-Rounders are able to work well on whatever project or task ends up on their desks. Their primary talent is doing many things well, although their final outputs may be less intricate than if you assigned the work to a specialist in one of the other TIPS profiles. 

    It goes without saying that the list of specific target outputs for each TIPS profile is indicative only. The range of concrete outputs can vary heavily across a multitude of professions and work roles, business functions, industries and organizational types. So, ask yourself: How can you “translate” these general output categories and indicative output examples to your business and organization? What specific work outputs can you add to this list? And what TIPS profile is probably the best to produce each of those additional outputs? 

    How to better align talent and output focus?

    Regardless of whether you’re managing individual performance for yourself, or as a manager for a team or business unit, or as a (Human Resources) executive for an entire organization, here are a few action tips on how to apply the aforementioned insights to boost productivity and performance of yourself, your people and your organization:

    1. Clarify the tangible work outputs that are connected to a role, business unit, or particular project. 
    2. Get yourself and everyone else in your team or business unit TIPS-ed. Do the TIPS online test to reveal the TIPS profile of yourself and other members of your team. Then, map out and analyse the profile mix in your work team. Finally, think about how to best align yourself and your team for higher productivity.  
    3. Take note of the primary and secondary target output categories of each profile. You’ve already learned that linked to your TIPS profile, you have a primary output category, which outlines those results and outcomes that you’re best at producing compared to other profiles. In addition, you also have at least two secondary output categories where you also tend to produce good outputs. You’ll find these supplementary output foci in the neighboring profiles that connect to your TIPS profile.
    4. Make everyone contribute in their “hotspot” or “sweat spots”. When assigning work tasks and projects as a manager to an individual or team, make sure that the activity fits the primary or one of the secondary output categories of the TIPS profiles of the people involved.  
    5. Clarify and document the desired outputs for each person in a HR performance review meeting. What target outputs do you want each team member to focus on in the year ahead? Are they fully or at least largely aligned to person’s TIPS profile?
    6. Take note of how different output categories run on different time scales. The profiles sitting at the bottom of the TIPS Profiling Map (Partner, Organizer, Systematizer) tend to mostly focus on producing outputs that show a result immediately or in the short-term (such as a day, week or month). For a manager, it’s easy to measure performance and assess progress over the year for these “brawny” workers. In contrast, the ultimate work outputs of those profiles on top of the TIPS Profiling Map (Theorist, Conceptualizer, Ideator) often show only in the medium- to long-term (from a quarter to a few years).
      Why is this? Well, it takes time to conduct outstanding research, develop a new-to-the-world technology, create a disruptive product, or get a new project initiative or start-up venture off the ground. As most corporate performance review cycles are annual, the ultimate results often take time to become noticeable. So, to avoid antagonizing those “brainy” workers, agree on interim performance and milestone outputs to assess the relative progress towards achieving the desired long-term target output.

    Do you want to learn more about TIPS Innovation Profiles? Would you like find out more about our TIPS training for your organization? Or would you like us to help you in a TIPS consulting project to define output categories for your organization, and then align your people to those categories that allow them to perform well? Contact us to tell us more about your needs, and we’re happy to help. 

    © 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

  • How to Scrutinize Popular Cognitive Profiling Methods (Part 1)

    What if you were hired by a mature corporation as their new innovation manager. One of your first tasks is to find all the creative talents within the organization. What will you do? Will you walk around and observe how people dress and behave at work to pinpoint the creative types? Or interview everyone? Whatever you do, chances are that while you surely can expect having some hits, you’re likely to also have a lot of misses — and a lot of “false positives”. So what else can you do? Here cognitive profiling tools can come to your aid and rescue — provided you pick the right one. 

    What are cognitive profiling methods?

    Cognitive profiling methods and —in a wider sense— personality-profiling instruments use well-structured questionnaires to determine the preferred cognitive styles of people. Ideally, the questions asked in the survey relate to certain psychological dimensions or cognitive styles that form the theoretical underpinning of a particular method. As such, these tests aim to capture differences in people’s personal preferences in areas such as cognition, behavior at work, communication and creative problem-solving, and innovation, among others.

    Typically, respondents self-assess their preferred ways with regards to the set of questions (known as personal assessment). In behavioral personality tests, however, other people report on the observed behavior of an evaluatee; in professional settings, this is often done as a “360 degree evaluation” involving a mix of superiors, subordinates, and professional peers.

    Based on the chosen answers, the evaluatee is then assigned a profiling score and/or a personality profile that describes their psychological preferences or preferred cognitive styles.

    Why are personality test and cognitive profiling methods useful?

    Critics belittle personal assessment tools by saying that they are pseudoscientific and no better than reading horoscopes. In contrast, proponents (and I am one of them) see value in using these methods to ensure a better alignment of people to environments that allow them to play on their natural talents.

    Personality tests and cognitive profiling tools give the respondents greater self-awareness on their preferred ways and cognitive styles, and on their natural talent as well as likely strengths and weaknesses related to a particular profile or profiling result. 

    These tests also give people- and team-awareness to managers and colleagues who work together in a team, so that they not only know what makes themselves tick, but also what makes everyone else in a work team tick.

    To harness such higher self- and people-awareness, some methods propose specific applications for improving business performance, such as a more focused career planning, talent development, effective team-building, and the like.

    An overview of existing cognitive style profiling concepts

    Nowadays, you can easily google the keywords “personality test” or “cognitive profiling” to find a myriad of different personality or cognitive profiling tools, each of which has its merit in one way or another. So, which cognitive profiling method may work for you? Well, it all depends on what you want to find out and want to use the method for. So, to get started, let me introduce a few profiling concepts to you that are either highly popular or which caught my interest while I was investigating different methods for their suitability to explain and support the people-side of creativity and innovation: 

    • Arguably the most widely used psychometric instrument is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). MBTI goes back on the work of the Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung, who introduced three dimensions to capture differences in personal style: Extraversion (E) vs. Introversion (I); iNutuition (N) vs Sensing (S); and Thinking (T) vs. Feeling (F). Later on, Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers augmented the Jungian preferences by a fourth dimension (Judging (J) vs. Perceiving (P)) and developed the MBTI typology of sixteen personality types. After taking a questionnaire, test subjects are assigned their profile type based on the letter combination of the highest score for each preferences (e.g. I come out as an ENTP). 
    • In his Keirsey Temperament Sorter (KTS), David Keirsey expanded the MBTI concept by introducing a new hierarchy of the MBTI dimensions and by grouping the types according to Plato’s four classic temperaments (e.g., guardian, artisan, idealist, rational). In addition, Keirsey suggested useful descriptive names for each of the MBTI types (e.g., the inventor in the case of the ENTP). 
    • Developed by the psychologist Ned Herrmann, the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI) is yet another well-liked concept to measure and describe thinking preferences in people. HBDI is based on a two-dimensional model grounded in theories on the development of the human brain. It distinguishes four brain modes (a cerebral vs. limbic mode and a left vs. right mode), and measures four related cognitive styles (A. analytical; B. practical; C. emotional; and D. experimental). The scores of an individual’s test result are presented within the context of a profiling map that shows which of the four styles is predominantly used by a test subject.
    • A related concept that leans on Herrmann’s model is the M.I.N.D. Design concept (M.I.N.D.) by Robert Alan Black. Like HBDI, Black distinguishes four styles that also christen the concept (M – Meditative; I – Intuitive; N – Negotiative; D – Directive), and uses the test results to indicate the extent to which a test subject draws upon each of the four styles. However, unlike the 120 profiling questions of HBDI, Black uses only nine questions to arrive at a largely accurate test result and descriptive report. 
    • An important profiling tool to captures style differences in creative problem-solving and innovation is Michael Kirton’s Adaption-Innovation Inventory (KAI). KAI captures on a one-dimensional scale the degree to which someone prefers to think and work as an adapter (who likes improving on existing concepts) or an innovator (who enjoys coming up with new solutions). 
    • Roger Hamilton’s Wealth Dynamics (WD) concept also draws upon some constructs from Carl Jung’s work on personality style, but merges them with elements of the classic Chinese I Ching concept. WD uses four variables (dynamo, blaze, tempo, steel) to assign test subjects one of eight profiles (e.g., creator, star, supporter, deal-maker, among others). What is special about the WD concept is that Hamilton describes how certain profile types are better suited to lead a company at different points of time as the venture evolves and moves through the company life cycle. 
    • One more profiling concept that works with only two Jungian dimensions (extraversion vs. introversion and thinking vs. feeling) is Insights Discovery. Created by a father and son team (Andi and Andy Lothian), the concept turns a 2×2-matrix into four color types (fiery red, sunshine yellow, earth green, cool blue) and then arrives at eight colored profile types with business-related names (e.g. director, motivator, inspirer). 
    • Another well-known profiling instrument is the DISC behaviour assessment tool. Grounded in Marston’s DISC theory, this tool measures the prevalence of four different behavioural traits (dominance, influence, steadiness, and compliance) in a person. In its original version, it assigns a person one of 15 profile patterns (named achiever, investigator, developer, among others) based on the test results. 
    • Other cognitive profiling tools that you may come across include Miller’s Innovation Styles concept, Lafferty’s Life Styles Inventory (LSI), the Big Five personality traits (also known as the Five Factor Model), or the Enneagram.

    Yet other popular profiling tests don’t target personality or cognitive style, but emphasize other aspects that may also give useful hints. For example, Don Clifton’s Strengthfinder test determines the top 5 strengths of a person (from an overall set of 34 talent themes). For example, my top 5 talents when I did the test in 2008 were “intellection, ideation, input, learner, competition’.

    So which cognitive profiling tool should you use?

    My advice is to test every new profiling tool you come across and find appealing to possibly learn new nuances about yourself. You will notice that some tools really “click” with you and offer valuable new insights, while others may be well-reputed but don’t resonate with you. Never mind, that’s part of learning more about yourself.

    In any case, the more tools you use, the more you notice that certain personality traits and cognitive styles seem to overlap across various tests, thus pointing to a particular direction where your unique personality and related cognitive styles and talents reside. And the more tests you do, the more you also come across some surprising new factors that make you one-of-a-kind. It’s just like collecting more and more jigsaw pieces of nuances of your personality, and once you find the right missing piece, you suddenly see a wonderful wholesome picture of who you really are. 

    But coming back to our introductory scenario: What cognitive profiling tool can help you as a supposedly newly appointed Innovation Manager to reliably identify those creative types in your organization who genuinely are drivers and agents of innovation and organization change? And what tool can give you hints on how you can make everyone contribute to innovation in line with their preferred styles and natural talents? 

    For almost a decade, I hunted for such a cognitive profiling tool to lighten up the people-side of innovation, testing method after method with always the same result: Most methods had certain aspects that I really liked and found valuable and accurate, but also had some “bugs” or delivery gaps that I perceived to be sub-optimal, missing or plain “wrong”. And while thinking about how to improve on these perceived shortcomings, I suddenly had created my own profiling concept: TIPS, Thinkergy’s innovation people profiling system.

    I created TIPS with the intent to give individuals and organizations clear insights on how everyone can contribute to corporate innovation by using the preferred styles of each profile type. The TIPS innovation people-profiling method draws inspirations from theoretical constructs of a range of earlier cognitive profiling concepts listed above, but also includes new concepts adapted from other disciplines (e.g. evolutionary economics and social science).

    Interim conclusion and outlook

    While testing a great variety of different cognitive profiling tools and online personality tests, I’ve learned how to scrutinize the underlying conceptual constructs and design architecture of such methods. What conceptual features do almost all of these methods have in common? What shortcomings did I notice in many of the tools that I tested? And how does TIPS aim to cure these perceived ills? In two weeks, you’ll get the answers to these questions in a sequel to this article. 

    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

  • The Coming of Age of the Innovation Discipline

    A few weeks ago, I participated and presented a paper at the International Society for Professional Innovation Management (ISPIM)’s Innovation Conference in Stockholm. While listening to the keynote talks and academic paper presentations, actively participating in workshops and hot topic sessions, and observing the hustle and bustle of the conference, a thought suddenly struck me: “Innovation has come of age — both as an academic discipline and as a business service.” Why would this be?

    1. Innovation has transformed from a cool niche to a hot vogue in business

    In 2003, I entered the worlds of creativity and innovation as a highly passionate and talented domain novice. At that time, creativity and innovation were “cool” domains within the wider area of management studies:

    • Creativity was a domain largely dominated by psychology and the artistic fields, while business creativity was viewed as an offbeat niche within management studies. 
    • In contrast, innovation largely emphasized more left-brain directed, managerial approaches and perspectives, thus making it already a more established academic track in management.  

    From the Seventies to the Noughties, marketing used to be the hot “go-to” domain for the hip kids in town studying business. While marketing continues to be a popular choice today, it is no longer hot and sexy as it used to be. Innovation is the new cool kid on the block. It is the rising star within the functional directions in management studies. I believe it will continue to do so over the next couple of decades.  

    2. The academic domain of innovation is growing

    By regularly presenting at one to three ISPIM conferences a year, I couldn’t fail to notice how the academic discipline of innovation has been transforming and growing in importance:

    • Looking through the profile details of fellow delegates of the ISPIM conference in Stockholm, I see that in recent years, a lot of new professorship positions in innovation have been created — especially in Scandinavia, Central Europe and the Anglo-American countries. 
    • Likewise, the number of doctoral students in innovation is also on the rise, fueling the next wave of innovation initiatives in academic research and teaching. 
    • In the past years, new master programs specifically emphasizing innovation have been set-up at the more progressive business school — even in some developing countries, where most universities continue to embrace traditional MBA programs. For example, my main academic home at present, the Institute of Knowledge and Innovation, South-East Asia (IKI-SEA), Bangkok University, launched a new Master in Business Innovation program in 2016 that since has been growing in popularity. 
    • The dynamic growth of innovation within management studies can also be tracked by the numbers of publications. In an interesting paper titled “A Review of Research Methods in ISPIM Publications” presented at ISPIM Stockholm, Teemu Santonen, Marcus Tynnhammar and Steffen Conn  reported a sharp increase in the number of published ISPIM conference papers (from 25 in 2003 over 188 in 2008 to 345 in 2014).

    3. Innovation has started to solidify to make inroads into the establishment

    Like any other “product” or concept, the academic domain of innovation (and the related industry) has also moved along the “adoption curve” (and goes through the seasons of the business cycle): 

    • In his diffusion of innovation theory, Everett Rogers describes how a new innovation is gradually adopted by more and more segments of a population. A few innovators create a new concept, which the early adopters promote and endorse. Once the idea reaches the early majority, it becomes a success. Eventually, it is also embraced by the late majority, who eventually also convinces the laggards to see the value of the concept. So where on the adoption curve is the innovation domain now? 15 years after I first caught fire, innovation is a now has talked about by the “late majority”.
    • Not only the innovation domain in toto progresses along the adoption curve, but so does —albeit at a much faster pace— the “hot topics” that dominate current research interests and academic debates. For example. at ISPIM, fresh topics appear and get introduced by a few delegates; in the following year, other delegates have picked up some of those topics and ran with them; yet another year later, those topics become central conference themes, attracting many paper contributions and much debate; finally, the once “hot topics” start to lose their glow and brilliance. For example, at ISPIM Stockholm, “digitalization” appeared new on the scene as a fresh topic, “design thinking” plateaued, while formerly hot topics such as “open innovation” or “social innovation” have already lost their appeal. 
    • As the innovation domain has reached the late majority (or in the business cycle moves from summer into autumn), new topics emerge and vie for leadership: For example, some academics and consultants advocate “establishing firm innovation management standards” and certifying “best innovation practices”. I predict that such new systemic and administrative initiatives on innovation will not meet resistance in well-established, mature corporations. Why? Many executives in bluechip organizations in mature industries have psycho-static mindsets (and tend to profile in TIPS as Systematizers, Organizers or Technocrats). So, they have a natural affinity for initiatives aiming to systematize, standardize, quality-certify and benchmark things — probably even innovation. 

    So how do I personally feel about all of this? I am deeply passionate about creativity and innovation. So, I am happy to see how much the innovation domain has grown in importance. Moreover, as a creative person, I acknowledge that as many roads lead to Rome, there are many pathways to reach innovation. At the same time, I am a fervent advocate of more fluid innovation methods and tools to arrive at tangible innovation results.

    Conclusion

    Clearly, innovation has come of age. It’s hot, growing in importance and scope, and even shows initial signs of solidifying — of becoming an established domain in business. Together, these factors have attracted an increasing number of players in the innovation field advocating a myriad of different approaches, methods, platforms and events that promise to bring you into innovation heaven. 

    As an industry, innovation has become big business. But in view of an ever growing number of innovation methods and tools, events and conferences, academics and consultants contesting for “the innovation dollar”, a company eager for producing innovation may wonder: “What’s the best approach to get good returns from our innovation investment?” Let’ see. In the end, it will all come down to what approaches are able to produce tangible innovation results, and what impacts those make on customers.

    Have you become interested to become part of ISPIM? Do you agree —or disagree— with my views? Or are you interested to learn more about TIPS or our other innovation methods that we suggest using to produce innovation results? We like to hear from you. Contact us  and tell us more about you and how we may help you.

    © 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).


  • 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. 

  • 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.