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The Innovator's Toolkit: 50+ Techniques for Predictable and Sustainable Organic Growth, 2nd Edition by Neil DeCarlo, Philip Samuel, David Silverstein

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Technique 11

Cognitive Style

Leverage the diversity of your exploiters and explorers.

 

Cognitive style is an individual's preferred approach for solving problems and can be measured along a continuum from adaptive to innovative. While adaptors are more prone to improve the current system, innovators are critical of the current system, choosing to create entirely new products, processes, models, and solutions.

To run an innovation project from end to end, you always need the right mix of both adaptors and innovators—not just one type of person or the other, and not some set ratio of adaptors to innovators for all projects.

When all team members understand their own cognitive style, as well as the styles of other team members, the process of working together becomes much smoother and more productive—and you avoid unnecessary conflicts and delays. For example, a more adaptive team member who would ordinarily be frustrated with a more innovative team leader can, instead, understand the differences and use them to the team's advantage.

Background

Several factors affect a team's chemistry and success with innovation. Motivation is one factor, and there are known approaches for managing this. Level is another success factor, and it refers to (a) a person's current knowledge and/or skill and (b) a person's potential capacity for problem solving. We also have sound and established instruments (tests and IQ measurements, for example) for assessing these dimensions. Then there are resources ...

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