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Two views of what it means to be an innovator. Where do you fit in?

What is it that makes an individual an innovator? Brenna Sniderman, who writes for Forbes Insights decided to check this out for herself for her article,The Five Personalities of Innovators: Which One Are You? She states “it is not that “ah ha” moment, it’s about the nitty-gritty work that comes aft

Phil McKinney
Phil McKinney
3 min read
innovator innovation

What is it that makes an individual an innovator? Brenna Sniderman, who writes for Forbes Insights decided to check this out for herself for her article,The Five Personalities of Innovators: Which One Are You? She states “it is not that “ah ha” moment, it’s about the nitty-gritty work that comes after the idea:  getting it accepted and implemented.”

An effective and productive culture of innovation is like a good minestrone soup: it needs to have the right mix and balance of all the ingredients, otherwise it’s completely unsuccessful, unbalanced — and downright mushy.

In 2011, Forbes Insights did a survey of 1245 business executives across Europe. The results of this study are the basis for Sniderman’s article. Here is a listing of the personality types found among these specific executives, along with a very short pro and con for that personality type in regard to being an innovator.

  1. Movers and Shakers: this group has the drive and need for legacy, but can also be arrogant and unable to work within a team.
  2. Experimenters:persistence and being open to new ideas is found here, but their persistence may alienate those they must work with.
  3. Star Pupils: some individuals are just good at everything. Getting it out into the finished product is not always within them.
  4. Controllers: Afraid of risk, need for control. While they can mobilize workers, they can also stifle them.
  5. Hangers-On: Reality check is their middle name. Exploring new and unknown fields is not their favorite activity.

For a company needing innovation, it is the combination of the efforts of all the personalities above. Movers and Shakers along with the Experimenters are the closest to being the pure innovator. The other personality types all have their place in the finalization of an idea. The Star Pupils are good at translating the idea and forming a strategy. After them come the Controllers who get everyone in line and ready to go. At the end are the Hangers-On who keep it all in check.

The key to success in learning how to stimulate your gifts so you become the innovator you know exists inside you.

Phil McKinney

In the article above, innovation is presented as a team effort, with each individual bringing their unique and needed talents on board for the success of a project.

The site Think Simply Now addresses the innovator in a different manner. It looks for qualities that one individual might have, which enables them to become an innovator. In this article, there are 7 habits that the innovative person possesses.

At the top is the quality that Thomas Edison considered 99% a part of innovation and that is persistence. It can be a long journey to the reality of the dream. Being willing to make mistakes and take risks follows. Fear of failure stops so many from putting their idea out front. Find a way to escape. Discover that trigger that brings your creativity to life. Getting ideas down in a concrete manner, whether it is a scrap book, journal or in what is now available, the digital notebook. Leonardo Da Vinci’s notes prompted Bill Gates to purchase them for over $30 million. It is fascinating to see how Da Vinci's projects evolved. Ideas come from other ideas. Search out patterns and try different combinations. It is like cooking, sooner or later the right combination will say “Yes!” Finally, curiosity, a most important ingredient. Exploring, wondering why and how are thoughts that can stimulate and help an individual get going in new directions.

The key to your success in learning how to stimulate the gifts that you have to help you become the innovator you know exists inside you.

For me personally, asking the right questions has been the tool I use.  If you want to learn why and how this works, download this PDF.

BlogCareerHow Toasking the right questionsculture of innovationcuriositygetting ideas downinnovation quotientinnovation talentinnovatorIQpersistencepersonalities of innovators

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Phil McKinney is an innovator, podcaster, author, and speaker. He is the retired CTO of HP. Phil's book, Beyond The Obvious, shares his expertise and lessons learned on innovation and creativity.


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