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    Using TIPS for the People-Side of Innovation

    Suppose you’re a corporate innovation manager who arranged to get all of your fellow executives and coworkers from the major business units of your company profiled in TIPS, Thinkergy’s cognitive profiling test for business and innovation. Today, let me suggest eight actions that you can take as an innovation manager after your company has been TIPS-ed.

    1. Start with yourself and review your own TIPS result and profiling report

    As an innovation manager, first, deepen your self-awareness before beginning to gain greater innovation awareness. Study your personal TIPS profile and test results and take the actions suggested in a related earlier article (titled So you’ve been TIPS-ed, now what? (Part 1 | Part 2).

    2. Familiarize yourself with matching innovation contributions of the different profiles

    An earlier article in this blog titled How to make everyone contribute to innovation discusses how each TIPS profile can add value to corporate innovation initiatives. Read this article to gain a general overview before deep-diving into the TIPS results of your company.

    3. Overview the results of your innovators in a matrix

    If you’ve profiled a larger number of employees in TIPS, Thinkergy or your TIPS coach can send you a TIPS Profiling Results Spreadsheet featuring the test results and related personal data of all your profiled colleagues:

    • The spreadsheet contains each person’s TIPS innovator profile, test scores, and cognitive styles, among others.
    • Consider adding other relevant information to each profiled colleague to make it easier to subsequently compose diverse innovation teams (such as perhaps business unit or business function, age or social generation, gender, or educational background).
    • Use the sort functions to quickly regroup the results based on certain desired parameters.

    4. Identify your internal innovation champions

    Certain TIPS profiles tend to thrive in —and often love to drive— (digital) innovation projects. (Please see also a related article titled How to find the people to drive digital innovation). How can you find those creative and digital types? Go through the results list and check for Ideators, Conceptualizers, Promoters, and Imaginative Experimenters with high scores for the Ideas base. 

    In line with Everett Roger’s innovation diffusion theory, these profiles also tend to constitute those innovators and early adopters who create, test, endorse, and promote innovations. I detail this out in a related article titled Who really makes innovation happen?

    5. Use TIPS to optimize the people-side of innovation projects

    As an innovation manager, you will regularly organize innovation projects that target specific challenges. Moreover, business unit managers may approach you occasionally to ask for your support for a particular innovation project. Whatever the case may be, TIPS can help you in better planning successful innovation projects in three ways:

    1. Each innovation project typically targets one particular innovation type (such as product or service innovation, or customer experience design). Interestingly, different TIPS profiles tend to enjoy and do well in certain innovation types. Please check out the article titled What innovation projects fit your cognitive style for more information.
    2. TIPS also allows you to optimize the people utilization in an innovation project. You can do this by inviting people only to those process stages that they tend to enjoy based on their TIPS profile. I discuss the details in an earlier article titled Who shines when in the creative process?
    3. TIPS also spells out what is the preferred style to innovate of each profile. As an innovation facilitator, check what TIPS profiles you have in an innovation team before you guide it through the stages of a structured thinking process.(such as our award-winning innovation method X-IDEA). When applying specific thinking tools, adjust your facilitation style to fit the preferred styles of innovating of the team members. I explain these differences in an earlier article titled What’s your and everyone else’s style to innovate?

    6. Identify opportunities for work realignments in the innovation management function

    Depending on your TIPS profile and your specific job responsibilities, you may or may not be highly satisfied with your role as an innovation manager. It is quite likely that you love certain aspects of your position, but regard taking care of other tasks as a drudgery. This ambivalence is because most innovation managers either enjoy administering organizational innovation from behind or leading innovation initiatives at the front, but not having to do both.

    For this reason, I made a case to separate the function into two roles in an earlier article titled Creative leaders and innovation managers: same same but different. Read this article and decide if my arguments make sense to you. If yes, consider bringing in another person who complements your preferred work focus. Then, drive and lead innovation at the front, while leaving all the administrative tasks to your colleague — or vice versa, depending on your TIPS profile.

    7. Clarify who is going to respond how to creative change

    TIPS can give you hints on who is going to respond how to major creative change initiatives that your organization may introduce to make your corporate culture more innovation-friendly. Thereby, we distinguish all profiled people into three groups based on their TIPS profiles and highest score:

    • Psycho-dynamic profiles (such as the Conceptualizer, Ideator, Imaginative Experimenter, and Promoter) tend to be change drivers or change agents.
    • Psycho-neutral profiles (like the Theorist, Coach, All-Rounder, and Partner) tend to skeptics whom you need to convince that the change is sensible and worth the extra efforts.
    • Psycho-static profiles tend to be laggards and preservers who are likely to resist change passively, or who may even actively try to sabotage it.  They include the TIPS profiles of the Organizer, Systematizer, Systematic Experimenter, and Technocrat. 

    As such, TIPS can help you to identify possible change drivers and change agents in your organization. Moreover,  TIPS can also point you to those psycho-static colleagues who are likely to oppose and resist the change initiative. This knowledge allows you to actively approach these colleagues early on to address their concerns and try to win them over.

    8. Identify possible candidates for a creative leadership development program

    You can regard all the psycho-dynamic colleagues that we’ve identified in steps 4 and 7 as a potential talent pool to be developed into creative leaders by your organization. A sophisticated creative leadership development program such as Genius Journey by Thinkergy can teach these creative talents the advanced creative mindsets and action routines of outstanding creative leaders in business, science, sports, and the arts. (Depending on your TIPS profiles, you as innovation manager and other psycho-dynamic top executives may want to join such a program, too).

    Do you want to learn more about TIPS

    Are you curious about what’s your TIPS profile? Buy your TIPS online profiling test coupon for USD 89 now.

    Would you like to find out more about our TIPS training for your team? Contact us to tell us more. 

    © Dr. Detlef Reis 2019

  • How to Find the People to Drive Digital Innovation

    These days, many companies are interested in pursuing digital development initiatives and more progressive innovation projects. Why is that? The advent of the innovation economy and digital transformation will drive economies in the coming decades. Moreover, within the next couple of years, we’ll see the beginning of a new long cycle of technological and economic development: the Sixth Wave. Each long wave brings forth 2-3 new lead technologies that drive economic growth for a couple of decades. Each wave also sees the rise of a few start-up ventures that develop into market-dominating corporations. For example, companies like Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Facebook have risen to prominent positions in the present Fifth Wave driven by information technology, the Internet, and social networks. Apart from clean technologies and biotechnology & genomics, digital transformation triggered by artificial intelligence (AI), big data and automatization are predicted to drive the upcoming Sixth Wave (ca. 2020-2045). 

    To survive and thrive in times of exponential change, and to master digital transformation, established corporations need to start a new creative growth cycle. But where and how to find the creative and digital types to drive these new initiatives?

    Enter TIPS

    TIPS is Thinkergy’s innovator profiling system. We developed this comparatively new cognitive profiling method to better deal with the people side of business and innovation. The TIPS method consists of two overlapping theoretical constructs:

    • On the one hand, the four TIPS bases (Theories, Ideas, People, Systems) describe four social and technological base orientations that drive technological, social, economic, and political change. TIPS asserts that most people’s behaviors and actions go back to one or two of these fundamental base orientations.
    • On the other hand, the four TIPS styles (to think, work, interact, and live) illustrate the preferred cognitive styles of people. Thereby, each style comes in three possible expressions (e.g., Fact, Feeling, and Fact & Feeling for the interaction style).

    Put together, the four TIPS bases and the four TIPS styles form a profiling map that gives room for ten plus one distinct innovator profiles. Also, these two theoretical constructs allow us to identify those creative and digital types within and outside your organization.

    Where to find the creative and digital types?

    Nowadays, many corporations want to identify those creative and digital types within their knowledge workforce. These two target groups locate at certain TIPS bases, and exhibit specific dominant TIPS styles:

    • The “digital types” revolve around the TIPS bases Theories and Ideas and are “Brain-workers”, which characterizes their dominant TIPS style. How does this connect to TIPS Profiles? Conceptualizers and Theorists are best equipped to play a significant role in digital projects. They may be supported by Ideators, Imaginative Experimenters, and Theoretical Technocrats as supplementary team members. 
    • In contrast, we can find the “creative types” at the Ideas- and People-bases. They tend to be “Fantasy-thinkers”, which is the dominant cognitive style that matters here. Ideators and Promoters are best suited to drive progressive innovation projects. They may be supported by empathetic Partners, Imaginative Conceptualizers, and Imaginative Experimenters.

    As the illustration below shows, the two groups overlap at the Ideas-base, indicating that those profiles touching this base can take part in both digital and creative project initiatives.

    How to find the creative and digital types?

    With the emergence of TIPS as a new cognitive profiling method for the digital innovation economy, it’s easy to identify the digital and creative types in your organization. Just get all your in-house talents and potential recruits TIPS-ed. In other words, have everyone take our TIPS online test. If you want to get a larger number of your knowledge workers TIPS-ed, you may qualify for a special volume pricing (which we offer for organizations that buy test coupons in bulk).

    After you’ve tested your talents with TIPS, map out the results on a TIPS Profiling Map that shows everyone’s profile type and top scores. An earlier blog article discussed how you could do this. If you like (and have a budget), we can also create the profiling maps and a results matrix for you. 

    Once you’ve identified the digital and creative types, what next?

    TIPS allows you to find those types who, based on their cognitive predispositions and preferences, are qualified to drive or take part in digital projects or progressive innovation projects. However, knowing that someone has the talent to work in digital or creative development projects doesn’t automatically mean that they are ready with the word “go”. It is more likely that many of these “digital” and “creative” talents may lack specific knowledge and skills to do so well right away. Why? If they finished their formal education a few years ago, it is unlikely that courses related to digitalization, creativity, and innovation were part of their curricula. 

    As such, you need to start talent development initiatives to equip those digital and creatives types with the necessary know-how to play out their natural strengths. (You may also want to take a look at this article on talent development titled Who should be trained in what?): 

    • Nowadays, it’s easy to find training programs in structured innovation methods (such as Design Thinking or our X-IDEA method). In the past years, some business schools have added creativity courses into their graduate programs or even began offering progressive new graduate programs. (One example here is the Master in Business Innovation program provided by the Institute for Knowledge and Innovation, South-East Asia (IKI-SEA) at Bangkok University). Thinkergy even delivers training courses in “advanced creativity” (based on our Genius Journey method that allows firms to develop their top talents into creative leaders).
    • However, the situation is slightly different when it comes to training courses in digital contents. Here, a suitable way to quickly upskill your top digital talents is to enroll them in online training courses (such as Artificial Intelligence, Deep Learning, Machine Learning, Data Analytics, and programming languages such as Java or Python).

    As such, get ready to invest in training programs to upskill your in-house digital and creative talents. Equip them with the knowledge and skills they still lack to contribute their natural strengths to digital initiatives and innovation projects. (And of course, consider also bringing in selected outside talent and fresh graduates who studied computer science or innovation).

    How to prevent your digital and creative talents from leaving your organization?

    In the coming years, the creative and, in particular, digital types will be in high demand and short supply. So, expect headhunters and competitors to approach your digital talents and top creative types regularly. What can you do to keep all those creative and digital talents in your ranks happy?

    1. Pay them well in line with —or better— above the market rates for comparable positions in digital transformation and innovation.
    2. Manage them in harmony with their preferred cognitive styles. What does this mean? Do not micromanage them. Do create a free-flowing work environment with flexible work hours. Finally, do expose them to challenging digital or creative work assignments.
    3. Create a “dual career track system” that allows digital and creative “Brainiacs” to advance in their careers (both hierarchically and financially) without having to become managers. Why? The best middle managers are “Brawniacs” who enjoy “sweating the small stuff” and taking care of all the details. In contrast, the abstract, conceptual digital types dislike “managing” and are not good at doing. (Learn more about the Brainiac-Brawniac work dilemma in an earlier blog article).

    Conclusion: It’s all about knowing how to find, develop, and keep creative and digital talents

    TIPS allows you to identify who in your workforce has a natural cognitive predisposition to partake in digital or progressive innovation projects. Some of these digital and creative talents may already have the necessary repertoire  of pertinent knowledge and skills to get going right away. You need to develop most others by offering them tailored development programs with a mix of offline and online training courses. 

    So, get ready to invest in competing in the innovation economy and master digital transformation successfully. First, invest in a cognitive profiling exercise of your workforce to identify the digital and creative types. Then, invest in digital and creative talent development initiatives to quickly close identified knowledge and skills gaps. Finally, invest in keeping compensation and rewards schemes that keep your talents happy.

    What’s the alternative? Fading into irrelevance and eventually becoming obsolete with your methods and technologies, products, and company.

    • Download the TIPS brochure, or check out our TIPS website, to learn more about TIPS?
    • Check out our TIPS online test and get TIPS-ed now
    • Are you interested in one of our TIPS training courses?
    • Or would you be interested to profile a larger number of employees and would be interested in our bulk-buy pricing for TIPS?

    Contact us to tell us more how we may help you find and develop those digital and creative types in your organization.


  • 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

     


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

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

    What are your assets? What are your liabilities?

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

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

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

    How do your assets and liabilities relate to TIPS?

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

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

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

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

    How to make the most of your assets?

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

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

    How to limit your liabilities?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    © Dr. Detlef Reis 2018 

     


  • How TIPS Helps You Boost Your ROI

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

    Background: A frustrating sales meeting

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

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

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

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

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

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

    How TIPS improves ROI by recruiting the right people

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

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

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

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

    How TIPS boosts ROI by retaining more of your top talents

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    How TIPS boosts ROI by improving your innovation performance

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

    So how does TIPS raise the innovativeness of an organization?

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

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

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

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

    © Dr. Detlef Reis 2018

  • Manage People Better by Relating to Their Personal Styles

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

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

    Thinking style: Figure vs. Fantasy

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

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

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

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

    Work style: Brain vs. Brawn

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

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

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

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

    Interaction style: Fact vs. Feeling

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

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

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

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

    Lifestyle: Form vs. Flow

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

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

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

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

    Conclusion

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

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

    © Dr. Detlef Reis 


  • How to Hire the Right Talents with TIPS

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

    Background: The staffing game

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

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

    The scope and cost of poor hiring

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    How can you use TIPS to hire the right person?

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

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

    Conclusion: Include cognitive profiling tests in your talent acquisition efforts

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

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

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

    © Dr. Detlef Reis 2018


  • How to 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

  • How to improve teamwork with TIPS

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

    Introducing TIPS

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


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

    How to strengthen teamwork in an organization with TIPS?

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

  • What innovation types fit your cognitive style?


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

    Introducing the TIPS innovation profiling method

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

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

    Introducing the spectrum of modern innovation types

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

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

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

    How the different innovation types relate to TIPS

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

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

    How innovations differ in their impact of change

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    © Dr. Detlef Reis 2018


  • How to make everyone contribute to innovation

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

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

    Innovation requires more than just coming up with ideas

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

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

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

    Do you have someone in mind for each activity?

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

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

    Introducing how each innovator type can contribute to innovation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    © Dr. Detlef Reis 2018.

  • How Generational Shifts will Impact Business and Innovation (Part 2)

    In part 1 of How Generational Shifts will Impact Business and Innovation, we discussed the concept of social generations and introduced those generations that are currently alive. Today, we will explore how the generations presently active in the workplace differ in their work aspirations, behaviors and styles, and how generational shifts that will unfold in the labour market in the next decade are likely to change the nature of business in general and innovation in special.

    Introducing the styles of different generations at work

    Let’s get a better understanding of the different mindsets, aspirations, and work styles of those generations that still form an active part of the workforce. Here, bear in mind that of course, every generation consists of lots of different individual types, so that the following descriptions represent more of a dominating tendency for each social cohort. Nevertheless, the following differences reflect the specific social markers and technologies as well as the educational upbringing of different generations.

    • Having to live through the Great Depression and World War II in their early lives, Traditionalistslearned the hard way. Being educated in a more formal, instructive disciplined and military style education system, “Silents” show great respect and deference for authority. They follow established rules and policies, and feel uncomfortable with conflict, change and new technologies. Most silents dutifully and loyally worked hard in one career for one employer throughout their working life.
    • The Baby Boomers grew up in the economic boom after WWII. They were educated in a structured, data-focused and evidence-based style, Boomers are career-focused workaholics who are driven by titles and financial rewards and show respect for power. While being early IT adopters, they feel unsure towards new technological advances and take time to embrace change.
    • Generation Xers like me grew up in the sober social and economic climate of the 80s. After witnessing the first waves of corporate rightsizing exercise early on in our work careers, many Gen Xers developed a pragmatic to pessimistic outlook on traditional corporate careers, and evolved into self-reliant, independent free agents. They are pragmatic and resourceful, creative and entrepreneurial, self-managing and adaptable, cynical and skeptical of authority. They value work-life balance and personal freedom.Gen Xers are digital immigrants who grew up with PCs and the internet and feel comfortable keeping up with newly emerging technologies.
    • Millennials were mostly raised by baby boomer “helicopter parents on steroids” and a more nurturing, “touchy-feely” education system that was more participative, emotional and story-based. No wonder that many Gen Yers approach work collaboratively .and are very socially engaged. They are said to be idealistic, dedicated and goal-oriented, and want to do meaningful work. Millennials are digital natives who are “native speakers” of the digital language of computers, the Internet, videos, video games, social media, etc. that they all learned to master in their adolescence.
    • Post-Millennials are technology natives who’ve widely used the Internet from a young age. These “technoholics”, often entirely depend on IT for doing things, with a limited grasp of offline or non-digital alternatives. Many Gen Zers start entering the workforce, often in new apprenticeships or part-time jobs. As permanent, long-term jobs will become fewer and fewer, many Post-Millennials will likely become flexible career multi-taskers who move seamlessly between established organizations and smaller “pop-up” ventures in rather short-term, transactional project roles. all the while longing for more security and stability.

    Upcoming generational shifts in the labor market

    By 2030, organizations will face massive human resources challenges due to generational shifts in the labour market:

    • The last remaining Traditionalists will all have retired by 2020.
    • Likewise, the first wave of baby boomers is already retiring en masse and will continue The second wave of boomers (55-64) will still be a driving force in established organizations. until the mid 20s, when they will also leave.
    • Gen Xers will gradually rise to power in established businesses threatened by the fast-changing, highly dynamic modern market environment, and also lead the business-side of start-ups together with more digital-affine Gen Y leaders.
    • In 2016, Millennials overtook the baby boomers as the biggest group in the labor market. In the coming years, they will gain strong influence as Bruce Tulgan notes in a white paper: “We should not expect the new Millennial workforce to eventually ‘grow up and settle down’ and start thinking and behaving more like those of previous generations. Rather, the ‘grown-ups’ will find themselves thinking and behaving more and more like the Millennials.”
    • The chairs left behind by the retiring Baby Boomers will be filled by Gen Zers starting their work life (although not the ones in the corner offices).

    Implications of generational shifts on innovation

    How will these generational shifts impact innovation? No one knows for sure. However, by factoring in the educational upbringing, general work qualities, and attitudes towards technology and change, I foresee on the risk of being wrong the following nine innovation impacts of generational shifts:

    1. Expect innovation to flourish when the pragmatic, creative and entrepreneurial Gen Xers innovate alongside the collaborative, idealistic Gen Yers supported by the fresh ideas of the flexible, multicultural and balanced Gen Zers. Coupled with the shift from a managerial to an entrepreneurial society, I even foresee an Inno-naissance (an innovation-driven Renaissance).
    2. Innovation focus will shift to meaningful emphasis from making money first regardless what it takes” (Boomers) to focus on make meaning first, then we will make money anyway (idealistic Millennials coupled with pragmatic Gen Xers).
    3. After the gradual disappearance of the remaining baby boomers in the next decade, everyone remaining in the workforce will be digital citizen: either an immigrant (Gen X), native (Gen Y), or digital everything (Gen Z).
    4. Expect almost all innovations to have digital elements by 2030. Powered by the advent of the sixth long wave of technological change, new lead technologies and related industries will emerge that will drive economic growth for the next 2-3 decades.
    5. When contrasting the different educational upbringing of the generations, and linking it to the four bases of Thinkergy’s innovation people profiling method TIPS (theories, ideas, people, systems), I noticed that the Traditionalists were educated in a disciplined military style (Systems base), Baby Boomers in an evidence- and data-focused style (Theories), Gen Xers in a pragmatic, applications and solutions-oriented style (Ideas), and finally Millennials in a collaborative, story-oriented and kinesthetic style (People). 
Interestingly, I also spotted a pattern how the influence of the different TIPS bases impacted the innovation focus of different eras: mass-market, systemic and operational (1946-70, run by the G.I. Generation supported by Traditionalists); systemic, data-based and quantitive (1970-95, run by Traditionalists and the Baby Boomers); and data-based, conceptual and entrepreneurial (1995-2020, driven by Baby Boomers seconded by Gen Xers). Looking ahead to the next 25 years, I predict the character of many innovations to be more entrepreneurial, social, qualitative and life-affirming (e.g. clean technologies, energies and food). 
    6. Innovation training courses and innovation project workshops will continue to take place in real-life formats for the next ten years, and demand for these formats will increase. This is because of the educational upbringing (Cafe-style, social and collaborative) and preferred training focus (emotional, participative, stories, continuous, expected) of the now largest generation at work (Millennials), coupled with the training preferences of Gen Xers (spontaneous, interactive, round-table style, relaxed with a practical, applications-oriented focus), who will increasingly sign the checks to pay for innovation education. In the long run, however, digital training courses will gradually gain prominence reflecting the more technology-driven training preferences of Post-Millennials.
    7. With regards to the process side of innovation in future, I also foresee the emergence of virtual reality solutions that allow innovation team members based in various creative cities to collaborate in real-time on an innovation project in an virtual reality space under the guidance of an innovation process expert.
    8. With the gradual departure of the Baby Boomers from the C-suite of big corporations, I forecast the renovation and creative cultural transformation of many established corporations led by the more pragmatic, entrepreneurial and creative Gen X leaders.
    9. Innovation will continue moving from the closed towards a more open paradigm as collaborative Millennials and technology-addicted Post-Millennials will gradually gain more influence in the labor market — provided open innovation will be organized in a win-win-win way.

    Conclusion: Have you got a better grasp of both the generational differences in socialization, education and work behavior (work aspirations, attitudes and styles) and the scope of the generational shifts in the labour market unfolding in the next decade? Once the last remaining Traditionalists and hordes of Baby Boomers will have gone into their well-deserved retirement, many ways of how we do business and innovate will change. Hopefully, my predictions and rationales are useful to help you realign your business and innovation set-up ahead of time.

    This two-article episode is one of 64 sections of an upcoming new book of mine titled The Beginner’s Guide to Innovation (targeted for publication in 2Q.2018 by Motivational Press). Contact us if you’d like to learn more about our innovation training courses.


  • How Generational Shifts will Impact Business and Innovation (Part 1)

    In the coming decade, major generational shifts will take place in the workplace. Today and in two weeks, let’s understand more about the concept of social generations, how the socialization of different generational cohorts impacts the way they think, work, decide, communicate, manage and lead, and how generational shifts will affect the ways we do business and innovate.

    Background: Training a group of global nomads

    In April 2017, I had the pleasure of training a fascinating group of highly successful businesspeople in our creative leadership method Genius Journey. Led by an impressive young Briton, the training group entirely consisted of an accumulation of global nomads, who flew in from all-around-the world to Phuket, Thailand, for a joint gig and team holiday. Together, the group operates an online platform for business coaches to host an annual international online coaching conference and to disseminate quality contents for a global coaching community.

    All Millennials in their late 20s or early 30s, the fourteen delegates came from eight diverse nationalities (UK, US, Australia, New Zealand, Austria, Croatia, Romania and India); with one exception, none of them actually lived in their home country. Moreover, while the group has a hub connecting all spokes, both are “moving targets”: the hub (= “head office” where the core team has pitched tents for the time being) only recently shifted from Costa Rica to Croatia, and most of the “spokes” (= individual team members) are frequently traveling between countries. Nevertheless, all collaborate together seamlessly and successfully across different time zones using the Internet and modern communication solutions.

    Why do I tell you this story? Training this group of international global nomads —and witnessing them working in the evening after our training with other colleagues who couldn’t make the offsite — made me realize the huge differences in work styles, work-life aspirations and educational backgrounds of Millennials (also known as Generation Y) compared to those generations who still tend to run or influence most businesses today.

    For the first time, I fully understood the importance of appreciating the style differences between social generations, and I began investigating and pondering how the impending generational shifts in the workplace will affect business and innovation.

    Introducing the concepts of social generations

    In social science, the concept of social generations describes cohorts of people born within a specific time period (ranging between 15 to 30 years) who jointly experience significant historical landmark events and witness the emergence of certain iconic technologies and trendy cultural phenomena during their formative years and while coming of age.

    Because the shared social marker experiences within a single generation differ from those of previous or later cohorts, generations tend to vary from each other in their values, aspirations and motivations, the ways they work, communicate, make decisions, interact with certain technologies, etc. As a result, when one generation starts to retire, other generations take over, and a new generation enters the work place, these generational shifts tend to have major impacts on the economies and businesses.

    Introducing the present generations and their sociological background

    Let’s gain an overview of what generations are presently still alive, and gain an impression of the landmark events, technologies and cultural phenomena that shaped them (here note that the time spans between different generations is indicative only and varies in the literature, and the terminology follows the most common one developed in the USA):

    • The Lost Generation (1883-1900) describes the cohort who grew up in the culturally and scientifically rich period of the late imperialistic era and fought in World War I, a traumatic experience that led to their name coined by Gertrude Stein and popularized by Earnest Hemingway. At the point of writing, there is a sole survivor of this generation.
    • The G.I. Generation (1901-1924) includes those who lived through WWI in their younger years. Because they had to master the Great Depression and fought in World War II, they are also called the “Greatest Generation” in the USA.
    • The Traditionalists (1925-1945) includes most of those who were born or growing up during the Great Depression and World War II, and who fought the Korean War and in some cases during the Vietnam War. Also called the Silent Generation (or “Silents” because they were socialized at a time of conformity to authority), they grew up with Jazz and Swing (Glen Miller, Frank Sinatra), flocked to “Gone with the Wind” in the cinema, and saw the advent of TV.
    • The Baby Boomers (1946-1964) got their name from the baby-boom following World War II. They are a large demographic cohort and due to the long time-span, they are sometimes distinguished in early boomers (1946-1955) and late boomers (1956-1964). They grew up during the early Cold War era with the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Vietnam War, and witnessed the moon landing and the civil and women’s rights movements that challenged the established order. Rock ‘n’ Roll (Elvis, Beatles, Rolling Stones, Woodstock) and the Boomtown Disco period, the movies “Easy Rider” and “The Graduate”, and the arrival of Color TV were important cultural phenomena shaping the boomers.
    • I am a member of Generation X (Gen X, 1965-1980), the “baby bust” generation characterized by a drop in birth rates following the invention of the birth control pill. We experienced a series of negative landmark events and social markers, such as the AIDS crisis, a renewed nuclear arms race in the late Cold War era, the Challenger explosion and the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, but also the sensational fall of the Berlin Wall and lifting of the iron curtain in Eastern Europe. Sometimes called the “MTV generation”, we enjoyed watching pop videos (Madonna, Michael Jackson) and listening to new wave and house music. Movies such as E.T., Star Wars or Alien made an impact on us, too, and the Walkman, VCR and in particular Personal Computers (IBM PC, Macintosh) were iconic technologies for us.
    • The Millennials (Generation Y, 1981-1994) grew up during the Dot-com boom, enjoyed the turn of the Millennium and suffered from the 9/11 terror attacks. Being mostly the offspring of the demographically large baby-boomers. they are also a huge cohort that has just surpassed the number of the Baby Boomers in the US. Millennials witnessed in their youth a series of major technological shifts such as the advent of the Internet, mobile phones, email, SMS, and the DVD. Cultural phenomena that shaped Millennials were hip hop (Eminem, Puff Daddy) and singers like Britney Spears or Jennifer Lopez, the movie “Titanic”, the emergence of Reality TV and Pay TV, and fancy gaming playing consoles (Playstation, XBox).
    • The Post-Millennials (1995-2010) witnessed the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Asian tsunami and the global financial crisis as landmark events. Also known as Generation Z or Gen 2020, they grew up with the iPad (and other tablets), social media (Facebook, Google, Twitter, Snapchat) and mobile apps. Culturally, Post-Millennials often have a thing with musical interpreters such as Justin Bieber, Rihanna, or Taylor Swift, and got greatly influenced by the movie “Avatar” and other 3D movies.

    Interim Conclusion: Generational shifts and developments —hopefully— never stop. Some sociologists suggest the next generation has already emerged: Generation Alpha (people born from 2011 onwards — and my newborn daughter Zoë is a recent addition to Gen α). After introducing the different generations in today’s article, come back in two weeks time to learn more about the generational differences in the workplace (work aspirations, behaviors and styles), and how the generational shifts in the labour market in the next decade are likely to change business in general and innovation in special.

    This article is one of 64 sections of an upcoming book that I am presently writing, The Beginner’s Guide to Innovation (targeted for publication in 2Q.2018 by Motivational Press). 

    © Dr. Detlef Reis 2017.


  • What Keywords Reveal About People’s Personality

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

    Cognitive profiling method in talent acquisition and development

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

    Enter TIPS and a solution to the personality test dilemma

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

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

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

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

    TIPS addresses this problem in two ways:

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

     

    The keywords to listen for in TIPS

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

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

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

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

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

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

    © Dr. Detlef Reis 2017. 


  • 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. 

  • What kind of innovator does your business need?

    In an earlier article titled Growing with the flow, I discussed that, like living things, companies develop by passing through distinct phases in their life cycle. What’s also true is that as a company develops from a startup to a multinational corporation, different basic innovator dimensions dominate at different stages of a company’s life. Let me explain.

    The four dimensions of innovators

    Over the past few years, I’ve been developing an innovation-focused personality profiling system, and am currently fine-tuning it for market release in the first quarter of 2014. This system that we call TIPS is based on the idea that your natural work style, thinking style, life style and innovation style depend on the mix of four basic dimensions that drive your mental focus and energy. These four dimensions are: THEORIES, IDEAS, PEOPLE, and SYSTEMS (which together make for the acronym TIPS).

    When assessed on their combinations of these fundamental orientations, people fall into 11 types: Theorists, Ideators, Partners, Systematizers, Conceptualizers, Promoters, Organizers, Technocrats, Coaches, Experimenters, and All-rounders. Each of these innovation styles can contribute to a company’s innovation efforts, but different innovation styles come to the forefront at different stages in the corporate life cycle.

    How different dimensions drive and affect a company during its life cycle

    Let’s follow the life of a company to better understand how the need for the various innovator types — and their profiles — changes as it goes from a tiny new venture to a mighty behemoth:

    Phase 1: Great companies start with great IDEAS
    The idea on which a business is founded may be to fill an unmet need. An example of this is YouTube, whose founders Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim noticed the lack of an easy way to share videos on the web. The idea might also be to exploit a new technology or method, as in the case of Polaroid, founded by Edwin H. Land. The more radical, game-changing, and bold the idea, the more risky it is, the more reward it offers, and the more it can change the world. Ideators, the idea creators, often create and lead start-ups through their initial phase.

    Phase 2: Spread the word about the IDEAS to PEOPLE
    The second phase of company growth calls on both the IDEAS and the PEOPLE dimensions. Once a new product has been developed, then it’s time to build a brand and promote both the product and the brand. Among the 11 innovator types, the Promoter is most naturally suited to create convincing campaigns and to spread the word to the market.

    Phase 3: Get PEOPLE for Sales and Delivery
    This third phase is all about PEOPLE. You need to find the right people to sell your brand and product, and ensure satisfactory delivery and customer care. Partners are the innovator type most needed at this stage of a company’s development.

    Phase 4: PEOPLE use SYSTEMS to tame the chaos
    Sooner or later, if your sales team is successful, you will have a new problem: your organization will have problems keeping up with growth and maintaining consistent quality in products, delivery and services. This phase involves mostly the PEOPLE and SYSTEMS dimensions, as management realizes the need for organization at the front end, as well as a need for a more sophisticated back-end organization to ensure consistent service quality and customer care. The Organizer is the innovator type best suited to bring both order and a focus on service to a fast-growing company.

    Phase 5: Build smooth-running SYSTEMS
    As a company matures into a large corporation, the SYSTEMS dimension gains added importance. Senior management focuses on efficiency and productivity. The Systematizer is the right kind of person needed to drive and direct the transformation of a company into an efficient, productive corporation that is self-sustaining and not dependent on any one individual.

    Phase 6: IDEAS improve the SYSTEMS
    Once well-oiled SYSTEMS have been put in place, they can be shaped to improve the company. In order to do this, IDEAS are needed, along with the willingness to experiment and tinker with things to find the right business model, delivery channels, and partnerships to multiply the firm’s value. The Experimenter is the innovator type best able to figure out how to make the company successful in different markets, countries or even industries.

    Phase 7: Reinvent yourself and start a new cycle — or decline and perish
    By this time, your once-tiny startup has become a mature multinational corporation. However, natural systems have another phase in their life cycle: decline and, finally, death. Sooner or later, a new technology, business idea, or venture will emerge which challenges your company’s existence. If your company cannot adapt, renovate or reinvent itself — often because everyone in the company ignores the world-changing events around them — your company will start to decline, and may even perish, the victim of Schumpeter’s “creative destruction”.

     

    What about THEORIES?

    If you’ve been paying attention, you may have noticed that we’ve only mentioned the IDEAS, PEOPLE and SYSTEMS. Where do THEORIES come in? The answer is: Always.

    Theories and information inform your actions at every phase of the cycle. However, the focus of the theories shifts as the other dimensions come to the fore.

    • When IDEAS are most important, you need conceptual or creativity-related theories, such as basic research.
    • When PEOPLE are the focus, your firm needs marketing and human capital-related knowledge.
    • Building strong, flexible SYSTEMS requires a good theoretical grounding in operations, efficiency, and process.

    And those innovator types we haven’t mentioned yet —Theorists, Conceptualizers, Coaches, Technocrats, and All-Rounders? Their role is in creating, disseminating, and applying theories and information throughout all phases of the corporate life cycle.

     
    © Dr. Detlef Reis

  • 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