logo-large-thinkergy

Blog

Everything listed under: personality profiling

  • 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 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.

  • Escaping the GIGO principle of innovation

    Last week, I began planning a comprehensive innovation project with a client. This project is of a high importance for this Multinational Corporation, which is seeking for new applications in new industries for a highly profitable product that is now locked into one industry and one application niche. The first challenge in this complex innovation project, I told the client, would be to understand —and escape— the GIGO principle of innovation.

    What is the GIGO principle?

    GIGO stands for “Garbage in, garbage out”. Originating from the domain of computer science and information technology, the GIGO principle describes the following fact:

    If you input unintended, even nonsensical, data (“garbage in”) to a computer (operated by logical processes), then it will unquestioningly produce undesired, often nonsensical, output (“garbage out”).

    In more than a decade of working on over 150 innovation projects, I’ve seen how GIGO also applies to the field of innovation in five dimensions: project, process, money, time, and people.

    The project dimension

    The project dimension of the GIGO principle of innovation goes as follows:

    If you input an unintended, even nonsensical, innovation case at the start of an innovation project (garbage in), then it will produce undesired, often nonsensical, ideas and innovation outputs (garbage out).

    How to escape “garbage in” on the project side?

    • When you plan a new innovation project, ensure that it is relevant, realistic and meaningful for both your organization and key project stakeholders. Ask yourself: How to make key stakeholders rally behind this project? How to make participants feel eager to take part, and look forward to starting?
    • Identify the main innovation type you intend to pursue (e.g., process innovation, product innovation, service innovation, customer experience design, campaign design, business model innovation, or strategy innovation, among others).

    The process dimension

    On a meta-level, we can formulate the process dimension of the GIGO principle of innovation as follows:

    If you use an incomplete or dysfunctional innovation process for an innovation project (garbage in), then it will result in incomplete or substandard ideas and innovation results (garbage out).

    Moreover, every innovation process consists of different process stages, and employs thinking tools that innovation teams apply while working in a stage. As such, the process-related GIGO principle of innovation has a corollary on a stage-level:

    If you enter an insufficient quantity and/or poor quality of inputs into a process stage of a well-structured innovation method (garbage in), then it will produce too few, substandard outputs and results at the end of this stage (garbage out).

    The same holds true on the tool-level: Even the best, most carefully selected thinking tools will produce undesired, or even nonsensical, outputs (“garbage out”) if you input low-quality information (“garbage in”).

    How to escape “garbage in” on the process side?

    • Select and use an innovation process that is well-structured and complete, and that measures inputs and outputs on different levels (such as Thinkergy’s awards-winning X-IDEA method).
    • At the end of a process stage (or a thinking tool-exercise within a stage), make sure that you have outputs in a sufficient quantity and an adequate quality before you move on to the next stage (tool).

    The monetary dimension

    Going through an innovation project requires an adequate budget investment, which leads us to the monetary dimension of the GIGO principle of innovation:

    If you run an innovation project on a shoestring (garbage in), then your pennies will buy you only third-rate delivery partners with faulty innovation processes and limited experience, leading to suboptimal innovation results (garbage out).

    How to escape “garbage in” on the monetary side?

    • Relate the budget to the relative importance of the innovation project (high, medium, low).
    • Hire external innovation professionals with effective process methods to facilitate projects of medium and especially high importance. Recall David Ogilvy’s advice: “Pay peanuts, get monkeys”.
    • Ensure you budget can also pay for a functional event space and for the logistics and travel costs related to the innovation events.
    • Quantify the potential financial benefits of the project, such as estimated revenue and/or profit margin growth. View your project budget in relation to these desired benefits to arrive at an adequate level. For example, a project budget of USD 100,000 seems like a lot, but when viewed in relative terms against expected project benefits (say, USD 50 mio), it translates into a tiny fraction (here 0.2%).

    The time dimension

    Good thinking leading to great innovations takes time. All too often, businesspeople underestimate the time needed to do an innovation project adequately (a phenomenon related to a cognitive bias known as planning fallacy). This leads us to the time dimension of the GIGO principle of innovation:

    If you provide inadequate time commitments to an innovation project and each of its stages; garbage in), then it will produce half-baked outputs and results (garbage out).

    How to escape “garbage in” on the time side?

    • Relate the time commitment to the relative importance of the project (high, medium, low). Consider the following minimum number of innovation workshop days for each importance level: one event day (low), two to three days (medium), and four to five days (high).
    • For high importance cases, spread the innovation project out over a couple of months. Invest time upfront for a thorough immersion during an initial Xploration phase. It will pay dividends later on, ensuring that your innovation teams can address your real innovation challenge, which typically differs from the one you initially perceive to be your challenge.

    The people dimension

    The right number of the right people create great innovation to improve people’s lives. Last but not least, this notion is reflected in the people dimension of the GIGO principle of innovation:

    If an insufficient number of, or the wrong type of people work on an innovation project (or a particular process stage; garbage in), then they will produce too few or suboptimal ideas and innovation outputs (garbage out).

    How to escape “garbage in” on the people side?

    • For innovation projects of medium or high importance, have more than one innovation team (comprising eight to 10 members) working on the project case in parallel.
    • Optimize the people side of innovation: Use cognitive profiling tools (such as Thinkergy’s people innovation profiling method TIPS) to invite people to each innovation process stage who have a natural talent for the type of thinking required in that stage. For example, when applying X-IDEA, I noted that conceptual thinkers do well in the initial Xploration stage; creative thinkers shine in the two creative stages Ideation and Development; critical thinkers help a team to get real in the Evaluation stage; and operational doers get things done in the Action-stage.
    • For highly important innovation projects, broaden viewpoints and the pool of ideas by inviting topic experts (e.g., scientists, futurists, trend scouts) and external collaborators (e.g., clients, suppliers, creative agency partners).

    Do you plan working on an important innovation project in 2017, too? Do you want to escape the GIGO principle of innovation? Contact us if you want to find out how we can guide you towards meaningful innovation results with our systematic innovation method X-IDEA.

    © Dr. Detlef Reis 2016. 

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


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

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

    A brief introduction to Schumpeter

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

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

    The long waves of economic change

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

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

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

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

    Evolutionary economics, long cycles and TIPS

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

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

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

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

    © Dr. Detlef Reis 2016. 

  • The Creator-Manager Dilemma


    In my work, I play two major roles. One is as an innovator, creating new ideas and products. But I am also a manager. Thinking about these roles has made me aware of a dilemma facing creators, and the companies that employ them.

    Working styles
    There are as many work styles and cognitive preferences as there are people, but there are some clear categories into which they fall. One major division is what I call “brain vs. brawn”. Do you engage in abstract conceptual thinking (brain), or do you prefer to do things (brawn)? Are you a “brainiac” or a “brawniac” based on your thinking style and work style — or a mix of both?

    Braniacs are more abstract and strategic in their thinking, and look at the big picture. They think about the medium to long term, and enjoy pursuing and achieving what are often ambitious and challenging goals. They enjoy difficult conceptual problems, and are often the ones with breakthrough ideas.

    Brawniacs, on the other hand, focus more on operational issues. They take care of the details. They enjoy completing a list of tasks, and their short-term focus gets those tasks done quickly and efficiently.

    Creators and managers
    As you may already have guessed, brawniacs make excellent managers. They are good at identifying and solving operational issues, paying attention to detail, ensuring that things are working smoothly, and producing results, at least in the short term. They are good at these things because they enjoy them.

    In contrast, due to their conceptual cognitive preferences, brainiacs enjoy both thinking and creating new things. They don’t like dealing with the nuts and bolts. They are not managers, and they are unlikely to enjoy being managers, as it forces them to do things they don’t enjoy. Brainiacs can become great strategic leaders, but they will be, at best, competent managers.

    The dilemma
    Consider a hard-working, talented brainiac. The quality of her work brings her to the attention of higher management, who decide to “reward” her with a promotion to a managerial position. While she may enjoy the additional authority and status — not to mention an enhanced paycheck — she may soon come to regard her “reward” as a curse rather than a blessing. Now she has to direct and monitor the efforts of others, instead of doing the conceptual, analytical, and creative work she enjoys. She has to focus on short-term goals, and get her team to meet them. She spends much of her time in meetings. She has to pay attention to details, not only in her own work, but also in that of her team. She is likely to become frustrated and annoyed, perhaps even depressed, because as a manager, she can no longer do the conceptual, analytical or creative work that she enjoys and is good at.

    This is the dilemma: in most organizations, brainiacs need to become managers if they are to advance their careers. They don’t enjoy being managers, and would add significantly more value to the organization if they did the work they are best at. This is a problem not only for the brainiac; it is also a problem for the organization, even for society at large. Requiring creators to become managers to rise in an organization is a misuse of talent, and risks losing valuable ideas from a creator-turned-manager who no longer has time to create.

    The solution
    Because they cannot execute their preferred work style and cannot play out their preferred conceptual thinking style, many disillusioned creator-managers wind up leaving their managerial jobs and becoming free agents, or starting new ventures where they can do the strategic, creative work they love, and hire others to take care of the operational details. In this way, many organizations lose top talent, and with them the investment they have made in them.

    How can an organization resolve this problem? In industries such as software, some firms have dual career tracks. Employees can advance either as managers (e.g., managing a team of programmers) or as creators (e.g., writing software). Both the manager track and the creator track offer equal rewards, and those rewards are based on the value the individual adds to the organization, rather than, say, how many people work for them.

    Are we likely to see many organizations adopt dual career tracks to resolve the creator-manager dilemma? Probably not. Measuring the value added by individuals is in general very difficult. But more importantly, even though a dual career track program may be desirable from the perspective of the shareholders of a firm, the managers of that firm are unlikely to implement it, as they would see it as threatening their own status and rewards.

    If you’re a brawniac — a pragmatic doer and talented manager — be happy: you can do the managing that you love and that fits your cognitive preferences, and get both honored and paid well. But if you’re a brainiac, a conceptual thinker and creator stuck in a managerial role that doesn’t fit to your preferred thinking style and work style, think about whether you should stay for the money or cash out and start doing what you love and what is more in line with your cognitive preferences. That’s what I did, and it was the best decision I ever made.

    © Dr. Detlef Reis

  • The Brainiac-Brawniac Scheduling Conflict


    In the article “creator-manager dilemma”, we discussed categorizing people based on their preferred work style as “brainiacs”, who like abstract conceptual thinking, and “brawniacs”, who like getting things done. Good managers are typically brawniacs, as they are good at the nuts and bolts of business, and produce short-term results. Brainiacs, on the other hand, may become great strategic leaders, but will rarely be more than competent as managers, as they prefer strategic and abstract thinking. In most organizations, this leads to a dilemma for brainiacs. In order to advance in their careers, brainiacs need to become managers. This forces them to stop doing work they enjoy and are good at, and instead do work they dislike and at which they rarely excel.

    Even when the creator-manager dilemma isn’t a factor, there is a difference in the work style between brainiacs and brawniacs that causes a lot of frustration at work, and that is their differing approaches to time.

    It’s just a short meeting
    Recently, a fellow professor asked me to meet with him and the management team of a company to discuss human talent acquisition and retention. When I said no, my colleague objected, “But it’s just one hour.” Well, yes and no. For me, such a meeting would cost me much more than just one hour, even if the meeting miraculously ended on time. In fact, I would have lost a full day of work had I joined the meeting, because of the way that I, as a brainiac, use time.

    The brain-brawn scheduling conflict
    Brawniacs and brainiacs work on very different time schedules. This is because their tasks require different time commitments:

    • Brawniacs schedule their work in increments of 15 minutes to one hour. The tasks they work on are practical and operational, and can be started, and completed, in a short time, and that time is fairly predictable. Brawniacs tend to schedule as many tasks or meetings in a day as will fit into the available hours. At the end of the day, they feel satisfied if they’ve got many things done or have participated in successful meetings.
    • Brainiacs, however, must schedule their work in increments of at least half a day. Each day, they can focus on only one or two conceptual tasks requiring substantial abstract thought. These tasks —writing an article, coding software, creating a financial model of a company — can not be done quickly and cannot be done in a few minutes here and a few minutes there. They require at least a few hours, and frequently a whole day, of undisturbed, concentrated work. If all goes well, brainiacs may “get into flow” and become so deeply absorbed by the work that they forget about everything else. This, the most productive time for a brainiac, can never happen if their work gets interrupted.

    If you’re a brawniac — a pragmatic doer and talented manager — be glad. The world runs on a brawniac’s schedule. In the U.S. it’s estimated that two out of three people are brawniacs. Even more importantly, most managers are brawniacs, and manage on their own schedule.

    However, if you’re a brainiac — a conceptual thinker and creator — you will inevitably and frequently come in conflict with a brawniac’s schedule due to your preferred work style. Although you need long stretches of time to produce good work, you will be asked to schedule time as if you were a brawniac. That mid-morning meeting may cost the brawniacs only an hour, but you lose at least a half day’s work as a result.

    Solutions
    How can a brainiac, or a brawniac manager of brainiacs, most effectively deal with this conflict? How can the brainiac produce their best work in a world running on the brawniac’s schedule? Here are three ideas for a brainiac to consider:

    1. Learn to say no. When you have conceptual work to do, refuse demands on your time that would destroy your productivity, just as I did to my fellow professor above. The first few times, you’ll have to explain why a half-hour task can destroy a full day of conceptual work. Eventually they will come to understand that your needs are different from theirs, and they should be able to see that allowing you your schedule results in your producing more, and better, work. Find a compromise that gives you the time you need based on your preferred work style, but which also lets you be seen as a committed member of the team.
    2. Schedule meetings at your least productive times. Whenever possible, I schedule meetings in the late afternoon. By then I have usually done the most vital parts of my conceptual work for the day and am happy to deal with people’s needs or operational details.
    3. Be a brawniac for one day each week. Make an agreement with yourself, your superior, and your team members that on one day each week you will work on a brawniac’s schedule. Schedule all your meetings, short operational tasks, service calls, etc., on this day, and do your best to be a brawniac for that day. This will free up the other days for you to work on your brainiac’s schedule, and enjoy four days of undisturbed conceptual work each week.

    Finally, if you’re a brawniac manager of brainiacs, try to give your brainiacs as much advance notice as possible of meetings and the like so they can arrange their work schedules for the least disruption. When possible, schedule meetings late in the day. Your brainiacs will complain less about them, and regardless of their preferred work style, everyone can use the mornings to be productive. And as an added bonus, meetings late in the day are more focused and shorter, because everyone wants to go home.

    © Dr. Detlef Reis

  • Understanding the Cycles of Changes Using TIPS (part 1)

    Imagine a time machine brought you a few hundred years back in time to a feudal principality in the agricultural age. Upon your arrival, you’re randomly assigned to join one of three traditional social groups: farmers, clerics or warriors. You have to perform the duties associated with your newly assigned role. If you’re lucky, you feel a natural connection with your class, and perform well in your new role. But what if not? Today and in two weeks time, we’re going to explore the societal classes that preserve the traditional order and those that drive change — and how this struggle between stasis and progress perpetually drives the cycles of change in society and business.

    Introducing the traditional fabrics of society

    For centuries, the three social groups described in our imaginative scenario could be found in most countries:

    • The nobility was the first class. They owned and ruled the land. They paid for a standing force of loyal warriors who defended the lands against external enemies, kept the social order and collected taxes.
    • The noblemen also sponsored the second class: the clergy and scholars, who provided the nobles with knowledge and counsel, and also gave spiritual consolation to commoners to keep them docile.
    • Finally, commoners with many duties and hardly any rights formed the third class. These farmers and craftsmen did all of the menial work and paid taxes to the nobility in lieu of getting security.

    Together, these three groups formed a stable, traditional societal system. In every era, we can find similar social groups — for example, had you traveled back only a hundred years to the industrial age, you would see three similar groups: workers, academics, and policemen or soldiers.

    Fortunately, the feudal days are long gone, and the industrial age has ended, too. We have passed through the information age and are now entering the innovation economy. This raises an interesting question: What forces have led to the demise of each of the traditional societal models that dominated past centuries? Let’s answer that with the help of TIPS, Thinkergy’s innovation people profiling method.

    Introducing the four TIPS bases

    Most established personality profiling instruments exclusively use constructs to profile differences in people’s preferred cognitive styles. TIPS adds a new layer on top of these purely cognitive dimensions: the TIPS bases, which can capture both the dynamic, cyclical nature of business and social change, and people’s responses to these changes.

    TIPS distinguishes four bases: Theories, Ideas, People and Systems. We are all attracted to one or more of these fundamental base orientations. For example, the entrepreneur and inventor Elon Musk plays exclusively on the ideas base with his bold new ventures, while investment legend Warren Buffet’s success rests equally on two bases: theories and systems.

    The three traditional social classes mentioned above relate to the three TIPS bases systems (the nobilities and their warrior class), theories (the clergy and scholars), and people (common farmers and workers). But what if you were forced to work in a role that does not align with your natural base?

    Introducing the driving force of change

    Let’s expand on our introductory scenario: Imagine you didn’t go back in time alone, but in a group that included Elon Musk and Warren Buffet, both of whom were randomly assigned to work as farmers. What a waste of talent, you may think. Now, while Warren Buffet may accept his fate, Elon Musk will be a troublemaker. Why is that?

    There is a fourth social group that complements the three traditional ones. Depending on the historical context, we may call this fourth group merchants, voyagers, capitalists, entrepreneurs, creators, inventors, or pioneers. Elon Musk is one of them. The rebellious people belonging to this fourth group love to shake up the traditional way of doing things. In TIPS, these progressives  associate with the fourth base, ideas.
    Ideas people have high energy levels, as if change and progress were programmed into their DNA:

    • They take up new research and technological progress created at the theories base, and use it to create bold ideas and progressive change in the form of new social ideas or new products and ventures.
    • They know how to convince some people from the traditional bases to provide funds for their new ventures, or even better, they have already succeeded before with an earlier venture so that they can fund themselves.
    • Finally, they know how to enchant the people base to join their work force and consume their buy their products, earning them with their labour.

    In short, people aligned to the ideas base recognize opportunities to transform emerging new technologies into innovative products that they then introduce to the markets. They drive the cycles of change.

    Interim conclusion and outlook: In our TIPS Innovation Profiling Workshop, we bring the introductory scenario to life by enacting a game that allows people to experience what it means being assigned one’s right social role — or being stuck in the wrong one.

    So how about you? Do you play on a base that feels home for you? Do you see yourself as more of a smart intellectual, progressive entrepreneur, collegial worker, or rule-enforcing cop? Are you someone who stimulates, creates, enjoys or resists change? Come back in two weeks time, when I give you more insights into how to ride the cycles of change in society and business by looking at the four TIPS bases through another lens: the evolutionary macroeconomic concepts of Joseph Schumpeter.

    And if you’re curious to learn more about our new innovation people profiling method TIPS, then check out this video — and contact us if you want to be informed of the launch of our new online profiling platform in a few weeks from now.

    © Dr. Detlef Reis 2016. This article was published in parallel in the Bangkok Post under the same title on 29 September 2016.

  • Creative Leaders and Innovation Managers: Same but different

    Do creative leaders and innovation managers perform the same innovation role? A few months ago, I had an interesting conversation related to this question with the global head of idea and innovation management of a tech multinational. When we talked about the responsibilities related to his role, my counterpart revealed to my surprise that he sometimes has to key in ideas into his organization’s idea management system. Now know that this particular innovation executive is a strategic big picture thinker who is ideally suited for creatively driving major innovation initiatives across his organization. Sweating the small stuff is a waste of his time and talent, if you ask me.

    Many organizations seem to interpret the role of the executive spearheading corporate innovation function as a “Mr. Know-it-all-do-it-all”. I believe that’s wrong, and how I believe we must make a distinction between the role of a creative leader and that of an innovation manager. Let me elaborate by discussing the responsibilities of each role and, with the help of my innovation-people profiling method TIPS, make a case for why these roles suit fundamentally different personality types.

    Creative leaders: driving innovation from the front

    Creative leaders run the “innovation front-office” of their organization:

    • They set or influence the innovation agenda by identifying new trends and technologies to focus on.
    • They spearhead or participate in innovation initiatives of business units or dedicated innovation teams, such as new product development or product design teams.
    • They participate in innovation events and conferences to promote innovation within and outside of the organization.

    Creative leaders inspire and drive innovation teams towards excellence to bring truly novel, original and meaningful ideas to life in the form of new products, new services, new solutions or new customer experiences. They look for new business models, strategic partnerships, networks and channel solutions to multiply revenue from innovation. Finally, they drive campaign, packaging and branding initiatives that magnify the innovation in the eyes of customers.

    Creative leaders ought to be at the very top of the executive structure, whether as CEO or chief innovation officer (CIO). This allows them to drive or at least influence the top management agenda, and to intervene and remove any internal barriers preventing innovation. Famous CEOs who exemplify the role of a creative leader are Thomas Edison, Walt Disney, Steve Jobs (Apple), Jeff Bezos (Amazon) or Jeffrey Immelt (General Electrics), among others.

    Innovation managers: driving innovation from the back

    Innovation managers run the “innovation back-office” of their organization. They take care of certain internal responsibilities related to innovation, such as:

    • organizing and administering the formal innovation management system (how innovation is organized and formalized within the organization);
    • managing the corporate innovation pipeline (top ideas earmarked for activation);
    • administering and maintaining an online idea submission and evaluation system;
    • organizing and coordinating innovation events and project initiatives;
    • developing and fine-tuning an innovation measurement system; and
    • measuring and controlling innovation performance and efficiency.

    The innovation manager heads a dedicated administrative innovation team that supports and directly reports to the creative leader. A good example representing the systematic, reliable mindset of an innovation manager is Tim Cook, who took care of Apple’s “back office” to support Steve Jobs before rising to CEO when the latter passed away.

    Why does the innovation function benefit from two separate lead roles?

    Thinkergy’s Innovation Profiling System TIPS (Theories, Ideas, People, Systems) helps us to understand why it is beneficial to separate the two roles of a creative leader and an innovation manager: They draw upon diametrically opposite base energies, and should be staffed by different profiles:

    • Creative leaders are all about the TIPS base “Ideas”. Ideas people innately drive change, innovation and progress. They are strategic visionaries who enjoy focusing on boosting corporate performance, profitability and margins through innovations. TIPS profiles that naturally cater to this energy —and thus qualify to be a creative leader or be developed into a future one— are Ideators, Conceptualizers, Promoters and Imaginative Experimenters.
    • In contrast, innovation managers draw on the TIPS base “Systems”. Systems people enjoy managing, organizing, directing, coordinating and controlling internal activities. They take pleasure in setting-up and administering an innovation management system, including defining measures that allow them to check-on innovation performance and efficiency (How to increase our innovation outputs? How to more efficiently employ internal and external resources for innovation?). TIPS profiles that innately operate on Systems energy —and thus make dependable innovation managers— are Systematizers, Organizers, Technocrats, and Systematic Experimenters.

    But what if you insisted on keeping the two roles together? One compromise would be to staff the role of a “creative innovation manager” with a balanced Experimenter or an All-Rounder, both of whom can bridge the divide between the two polar energies “Ideas” and “Systems”. But, as with most compromises, you end up with a suboptimal result, because one person will be less effective than a real S-based innovation manager supporting a real I-based creative leader.

    Conclusion: Not either or, but both 

    Both creative leaders and innovation managers care for driving innovation in an organization. But they do it by different means and by focusing on different ends. Both roles support and complement each other by letting each person play to their strengths while compensating for the weaknesses of each others’ shadow-side. So, separate the two functions of the creative leader and the innovation manager of your organization. And consider using TIPS to find out how to out the right person in each role.

    Contact us if you want to learn more about how TIPS may help you getting the people side of innovation right in your organization — or if you’re curious to find out what’s your TIPS innovator profile. Our TIPS online personality test is going live soon.

    © Dr. Detlef Reis 2016. This article was published in parallel in the Bangkok Post under the same title on 4 August 2016.

  • How do you prefer to think, work, interact and live? (Part 2)

    Do you know how you — and everyone else on your team — really tick? In our increasingly complex and dynamic business environment, self- and team-awareness are more important than ever to use the talents and strengths of a team. For that reason, I have developed a ‘people’-oriented innovation profiling system called TIPS. TIPS is based on the idea that people have one or two of four basic orientations: theories and knowledge (T); ideas (I); people (P); and systems and processes (S).

    Combinations of these orientations define 11 innovator profiles, and there are four other preferences that explain how people prefer to think, work, interact and live. In the last column, we looked at differences in how people prefer to think (Figure vs. Fantasy) and work (Brain vs. Brawn). Today we discuss the two remaining preferences that explain how you and others interact and live.

    How do you prefer to interact?

    People communicate with others in different ways, and also make decisions differently. The third TIPS preference, called Fact vs. Feeling, illuminates those differences. It explains why some people cannot communicate well. This preference is adapted from some elements of the psychoanalyst Carl Jung’s theory of psychological types.

    People at the Fact extreme of this preference prefer a more factual, objective, and distant style in their interactions, whereas those at the Feeling extreme listen to their heart and interact in emotional, intuitive, and empathic ways. As with all of these preferences, some people balance these extremes, and draw on, flexibly shift between, and combine the two disparate styles of interaction.

    Both fact-based and feeling-based people produce results by relying on their intelligence, albeit in different ways: fact-based people pride themselves on having a well-developed logical intelligence (IQ), while feeling-based people have better-developed emotional intelligence (EQ). When working on projects, “thinkers” rationally look at and argue based on facts and evidence, while “feelers” consider how projects affect stakeholder groups, and make passionate pleas for considering the needs of others. Unsurprisingly, these two very different interaction styles often make very different decisions: “thinkers” logically deduce or compute the “rational choice”, while “feelers” tend to go with their gut.

    It’s interesting to note is that “thinkers” tend to be “lone wolves” who prefer to think and work by themselves, while “feelers” tend to be “joiners” who love to be around and work with others. Those people who combine Fact and Feeling are usually flexible loner-joiners who decide when they need space and solitude for thinking and when they need stimulation from, and interactions with, other members of the team.

    Questions: How about you? Do you prefer to interact with others and produce results by looking objectively at the facts and relying on your intellect (head over heart)? Or do you thrive on social interactions and produce results by trusting your gut and your high EQ (heart over head)? Or are you a case of head meets heart, i.e., you interact with others with both rationality and empathy, and look at things with both logic and intuition?

    How do you prefer to live in the world?

    The fourth and final TIPS preference is arguably the most important in both individual and organizational innovation. This construct adapts elements of two earlier psychometric concepts: Michael Kirton’s Adaption-Innovation theory, and Isabel Myers Briggs’ extension of Carl Jung’s theory of psychological types. This fourth TIPS preference, called Form vs. Flow, shows whether you prefer to live in a highly structured, well-organized world  that focuses on preserving the status quo and the established order(Form), or prefer things to be more fluid, flexibly changing and steadily evolving (Flow).

    Form vs. Flow explains the differences in people’s innovation styles. If you are a form-person, you generally dislike change and prefer that things remain, in essence, the same. You’re satisfied with making things incrementally better and fixing things and processes that don’t work well. You focus on efficiency. In other words, in the terminology of Kirton’s Adoption-Innovation theory, you are an adaptor. In contrast, if you are a flow-person, you are an innovator who is able to tolerate or even enjoys driving change. You push for evolutionary or even revolutionary ideas that are radical game-changer thanks to your high creative energy and drive.

    Form-people prefer to work and live in stable institutions with an established order and control and a clear hierarchy, while flow-people value individual freedom and are highly individualized, even if this means that they have to tolerate more uncertainty and to take higher risks — both of which they feel comfortable with. Form-people are risk avoiders with a very low tolerance for uncertainty. Because they are rooted in the past and value traditions and heritage, form-people are loyal to the institutions that they associate with, and to the established societal order. In contrast, flow-people look forward to the future and stay loyal to their personal beliefs and values and the causes that they choose to pursue. Form vs. Flow also explains the different frequencies that people operate at work: flow-people usually think and talk at a fast pace and work in leaps and bursts, while form-people prefer to think and work at a more moderate, yet steady pace.

    Questions: Are you a person who likes stability and essentially likes things to stay the same? Or do you prefer to creatively drive change and enjoy variety and freedom? Or do you enjoy stability when it’s blended with occasional doses of excitement, creativity and change?

    © Dr. Detlef Reis

  • How do you prefer to think, work, interact and live? (Part 1)

    Wouldn’t it be great if you understood what made everyone on your team tick — including yourself? That's why we've created a people-oriented innovation profiling method that I call TIPS. It’s based on my observation that people orient themselves towards one or two of these four dimensions: Theories and knowledge (T); Ideas (I); People (P); and Systems and processes (S).

    The preferences you orient yourself toward determine which of 11 innovator types you match most closely. In addition to this, there are four other variables that describe your preferences, and which will help you understand thinking, working, interacting and lifestyles — both yours and those of your team and organization.

    Understanding what drives behaviors at work

    The four TIPS Preferences with their three different expressions represent fundamental differences in people’s thinking style, work style and lifestyle preferences based on their preferred TIPS preferences. The preferences are: Figure vs Fantasy; Brain vs Brawn; Fact vs Feeling; and last but not least, Form vs Flow.

    It is important to note that each preference comes in three expressions: e.g., the three expressions of the fourth preference “Figure vs Fantasy” are: (a) Figure, (b) Figure & Fantasy, (c) Fantasy. These different expressions signify the major differences of people’s preferred style of thinking, working, interacting and living.

    Moreover, the different preference expressions can also help to better understand and manage the conflict potential of people according to their TIPS Innovation Profile. We explain the essence of each preference in the following paragraphs.

    How do you prefer to think?

    The Nobel Prize-winning neuropsychologist Roger Sperry tested the functioning of each of the two hemispheres of the neo-cortex (the powerful “outer shell” of the human brain) independently of the other in split-brain patients.

    In his resulting split-brain theory, Sperry noted important differences between the two cognitive functioning of the two hemispheres: the left hemisphere is said to be more analytic, rational and logical in nature, while the right hemisphere is more creative, holistic and intuitive.

    According to their thinking preferences, people are categorized in one of three groups: those who prefer to engage in cognitive activities related to analytical thinking (such as rational reasoning, numerical calculations, analysis, among others); those who enjoy practicing creative thinking (such as using your imagination, creating ideas, or creating metaphors); and those who feel comfortable in both analytical and creative thinking (integrated whole-brain thinkers).

    In Thinkergy’s TIPS Innovation Profile, we capture this notion with a preference called Figure vs Fantasy, which tracks whether people are more left-brain or right-brain-directed thinkers. If you’re a leader or manager, this preference helps you to identify who in your team is an analytical “number cruncher” (Figure); who is a more creative “dreamer” (Fantasy); and who is an integrated whole-brain thinker (Figure & Fantasy).

    What is interesting to note that left brain-directed thinkers tend to follow a linear-sequential, step-by-step approach in their thinking and aim to produce a specific solution, while right brain-directed thinkers prefer following a heuristic, more radiant and holistic cognitive approach that is more vague and open-ended.

    Moreover, Figure persons tend to be more critical thinkers who look to find the underlying problem when confronted with a challenge, while Fantasy persons prefer to take a positive, optimistic look on everything and look for the hidden opportunity in every challenge.

    Questions: How about you? Do you prefer to predominantly engage in analytical thinking? Or do you enjoy creative thinking and know how to use your imagination? Or do you see yourself as an integrated whole-brain thinker who feels at home both approaches?

    How do you prefer to work?

    While working on his theory of psychological types, the famous Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung noticed that some people preferred to focus their attention on details, while others tended to have “their head in the clouds” and to focus on more abstract matters.

    The second TIPS preference, Brain vs Brawn, checks the see whether people prefer to work as abstract conceptual creators (Brain) or as practical doers (Brawn). Of course, as with our first preference, there are also people who don’t mind working both on the details and on more abstract concepts, and who excel at flexibly switching between the small and big pictures (Brain & Brawn).

    Brawniacs put their work focus more on operational matters and tend to focus on the small picture (or pictures), while brainiacs enjoy looking at the big picture and prefer to work more on strategic issues. The former get satisfaction from completing a task due to their pronounced orientation toward short-term results, while the latter get it from achieving a goal (typically more medium- to long-term in nature).

    What is interesting about this TIPS preference is that brawniacs like to manage and execute, while brainiacs prefer to make and create. This helps you to understand why in most mature organizations, the practical doers and not the abstract thinkers tend to rise to the top of the hierarchy. We discussed this phenomenon in two earlier articles (“The creator-manager dilemma” and “The brainiac-brawniac scheduling conflict“).

    A final point worth mentioning: most brawniacs pride themselves as being specialists and love to give lots of explanations about their work, while brainiacs tend to look at themselves as being generalists who prefer to ask many questions.

    Questions: Are you a person who stands firmly with both feet on the ground and likes to take care of the details? Do you prefer to work “up in the cloud” on more conceptual, abstract challenges? Or do you enjoy flexibly shifting between detail-orientation and conceptual work?

    In the next column, we will look at the other two TIPS preferences, which will help you to understand how you — and the people around you — prefer to interact with others and live in this world.

     

    © Dr. Detlef Reis