Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Identifying the best innovators in your midst

For years we've worked with corporate clients, trying to help improve innovation capabilities and accelerate innovation projects.  One of the common recurring questions we receive has to do with finding the "right" people.  "Who are the best innovators in our organization?" is a question we hear quite often.

In the past we could respond with anecdotes, or point to a few signals, such as the individual's creativity or their "passion", but these were highly subjective and difficult to measure quantitatively.  For years we've known that a real need exists to identify people with high innovation capacity.  After over a year of research, talking with our project teams and identifying the traits that make good innovators, I'm pleased to announce our latest offering:  an online assessment that will help identify the people in your organization who possess innovation capacity.  We call this the OVO InnoTraits™ Assessment.

Research and White Paper

After listening to our clients lament the lack of insight about innovation skills and capacity, and after working with a number of innovation teams formed from people with limited innovation interest or skills, we developed the InnoTraits Assessment to identify people who possess more traits and characteristics that enable them to perform more effectively at innovation tasks.  This assessment is based on a significant amount of original research, talking to hundreds of project teams working on innovation.  We were also able to review and harvest a wealth of insight from academic research and publications such as The Innovator's DNA.  If you are interested in reading the white paper that supports our findings, you can find the paper here.

Once we identified the demographic and psychographic traits that we believed identified likely innovators, we surveyed hundreds of them to determine their views, and to learn more about them.  As we reviewed their responses, we confirmed a number of our assumptions about key demographic characteristics and traits, and also identified a number of other habits or experiences that may lead to greater innovation capacity.  For example, from our research it became clear that good innovators have broader and deeper personal networks than their peers, which means they come in contact with more information and ideas.  Further, good innovators are often frequent travelers, which forces them to confront new experiences and settings.  Finally, good innovators are typically deeply involved in a hobby or pastime outside of work, which opens up new creative thinking and allows the innovator to draw inferences between their hobbies and their work.

The Assessment

Once we finalized a list of psychographic and experience traits we worked with Decison Analyst, a well-known developer of individual and team assessments, to help us develop an assessment vehicle that people could complete quickly and easily but which would provide meaningful results.  After several trials with OVO customers to test the assessment and validate the reporting and results, we are pleased to make the assessment commercially available.  On our website you can review a PowerPoint with more information about the assessment, view sample reporting from the assessment and learn about pricing for the assessment.

The InnoTraits Assessment is best used across a large portion of the organization, because that allows us to establish a "corporate" norm for innovation traits and identify people who possess critical traits to a larger degree than their corporate norms or peers.  In this way we can help corporations develop high capacity teams that have a much greater chance of innovation success.  By building innovation teams based on innovation traits, we can ensure that the team has the appropriate balance of insights, skills, creativity and openness to further innovation success.  We can also identify corporate strengths and potential gaps or blindspots that should be considered in any innovation activity.


Using the data gathered from the assessment, innovation team leaders can build the most effective, most capable teams and ensure that all vital traits are represented. Further, using the results from the assessment, human resource executives can identify organizational or corporate training or development goals and rethinking hiring to identify people who possess more of these vital innovation traits.

The results from the assessment can improve personal training and professional development goals as well as establish new corporate training and hiring practices.  Further, the insights from the assessment can help Human Resources, Talent Management and other executives rethink leadership development.  But most importantly your organization can place the best, most engaged and capable people on an innovation project.  This doesn't guarantee success, but placing the best people on critical innovation projects will go a long way to improving the chances for success.

What to do now

If you are interested in our InnoTraits assessment for your company, line of business or product group, see our Skills Assessment webpage and read the white paper to learn more.  When you are ready, order the assessment from our pricing page.  The assessment is delivered online to the employees you select, and takes only 10-15 minutes to complete.  Once the assessment is complete you'll have an aggregate report and each individual will receive a personal profile letting them know how their skills and traits map to the corporate average.  With this data you can build better innovation teams and improve your training, hiring and leadership development to build stronger innovation capacities.

As new competitors emerge and the global market becomes more intertwined, product lifecycles are shrinking.  Innovation can no longer be a sporadic, haphazard activity but must become a consistent competency, supported by people who can accelerate the activities and produce meaningful results.  You need to find your best innovators and ensure they are actively engaged in innovation activities.

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posted by Jeffrey Phillips at 5:51 AM


Blogger Dhananjay V Deshpande said...

Nice path to follow

7:39 AM  

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