An Innovator is a person who has the mental and emotional characteristics to initiate, launch and implement a breakthrough project. They do not need to be the person who created the idea so they don’t necessarily need to be creative in the traditional sense. But they do need to be able to recognize, launch and implement a breakthrough project with minimal or no support from others.
We use the FOA to assess whether or not a test-taker is an innovator. This process is what we called Innovator Discovery. A person may be seen as being creative in a purely academic or purely intellectual sense. In our approach, if these creations result in no short-to-medium commercial impact or value, they would likely not be rated as being innovative on our assessments. Indeed this person may not be seen as being innovative at all.
Innovators naturally resist a defined process and any hint of process will recue or eliminate their motivation to participate in an innovation program; in the Perth behavioral approach there is, deliberately, no defined process – the process emerges from the circumstances. Innovator Development is supporting the innovators so that they have the best possible chance of innovating successfully.
In their race to be the best, numerous companies have embraced innovation programs. These are almost universally based on the assumption that the innovation process can be defined and replicated anywhere. Yet these approaches do not work. This is because they all embody 5 major flaws. These are:
- Creativity and innovation are the same thing
- Everyone can be an innovator
- Innovation efforts need to be integrated with the organizational hierarchy
- Innovations are mostly good
- Innovation is a personal and organizational benefit
Yet the evidence overwhelmingly points to the fact that what leads to innovation is the presence of people who are natural innovators. If natural innovators are not involved in an innovation program, the program is unlikely to work.
The message is that a company must identify, encourage and harness the natural innovators in its midst. These persons are usually not recognized and often feel unappreciated. As a result they usually leave, or tacitly give up making a real effort.
In other words, a company must focus on finding those relatively rare individuals in its midst who Have natural innovative behaviors. Once found they must be appropriately managed and tasked so that they feel valued and can be drawn into the innovation efforts of the company.
Key Objective – identify and support natural innovators. Depending on the type of innovation program, implement means to support the innovators so that they
have the best possible chance of innovating successfully
The key components of the Perth program are:
- Xecutors – these are the innovators identified using the FOA; they are deliberately not called innovators to avoid the appearance of elitism, and to avoid raising expectations; they are treated as just being in a particular type of leadership program; we don’t call them Executors since they are not in an executive capacity and we don’t want to confuse people on that point either.
- Handlers – Handlers are managers and executives who are tasked with supporting the Xecutors. However it is important that the Xecutors feel that these are in no shape or form a boss or someone they have to report to; they are merely an experienced person who can be used by the Xecutor as a resource to support and them and to provide advice when needed, particularly in interfacing with the rest of the organization.
- Cells - Xecutors will form “cells” which comprise peers chosen by the Xecutor to help them on a more regular basis than the Handler. This is their regular support mechanism to be used as seen fit by the Xecutor, at his or her discretion.
- Sponsoring Group (SG) - The Sponsoring Group is the senior team that has overall responsibility for launching this innovation program. ON a daily basis this group will be invisible to the Xecutor and the interface between the SG and the Xecutor will be through the Handler.
- Identify people (Xecutors) with natural innovator tendencies using the FOA
- Identify Handlers to help guide them also using the FOA
- Conduct training for Handlers
- Xecutors help select their handlers
- Xecutors given go-ahead to make a proposal
- Handlers help find appropriate ways to support them and provide appropriate resource to the proposal
- Xecutors start forming cells
- Xecutors start pushing ahead with their proposals according to their own plans, advised if necessary by the Handlers
The Financial Outcome Assessment™ (FOA) test has two dimensions. One is the propensity to add value to a product or service. The other is the propensity to use resources. In using the FOA for identifying Xecutors we only use the VA dimension.
The VA dimension actually identifies and measures a particular cognitive bias termed the status quo bias. This measure the extent to which a person is comfortable with change or stability. People with a high status quo bias prefer stability. People with a low status quo bia prefer change and will often make intense efforts to disrupt the status quo. These are the types of people we are looking to identify.
Note that his not a measure of intelligence or a particular intellectual ability. However it is a measure of the level of motivation to want to change the status quo.
- By not assuming that anyone can be an innovator, it focused resources on those people most likely to innovate
- It uses a psychometric instrument to identify innovators rather than on relying on purely observation, which is usually unreliable
- Program based on people who would innovate anyway, with or without a formal process or support
- It avoids the trap of only of focusing on creativity with the attendant likelihood that sustaining long and difficult innovation timelines is neglected
- Program is so designed that even if and when initiative fails, which they mostly will, it isn't a career problem for either Xecutor or Handler
- Natural innovators aren't left on their own to either sink or swim, as usually occurs
- The program zeroes in on people who would leave the company without the program this initiative
- It distinguishes between different types of innovators so that their different needs can be catered for
All organizations have a culture. They also have an immune system. This immune system acts to protect its culture from change which could result in a new culture being adopted which could threaten the roles and functions of its members. The immune system will respond to threats of change by unconsciously mobilizing stabilizing forces. For an innovation to occur this issue must be addressed or the innovation will fail.
There are basically two types of innovation program. The first type is a formal program that specifically and explicitly has as its goal to create new products, services or processes. In this type of program all organizational efforts revolve around the creation of an innovation. This is seen primarily as a technical task. The technical aspects are the adoption of formal processes which will help foster the innovation. This includes formal goals, support for the people involved in the innovation, and formal ways of
promoting the innovation process.
See more details of High Potential Innovator Program
The second type of innovation program has as its goal the preparation of the culture so that it is amenable to accepting any innovation. In this type of program the goal of the program is to focus on processes that will prepare the culture for any innovation. To an outsider the goal of creating an innovation itself might appear to be a secondary goal within the organization. However the real goal is to ensure that whatever innovation efforts are being implemented, should they result in the creation of an innovation, will result in widespread acceptance in the organization of the innovation.
See more details of XCell-Innovator Accelerator Program