Here is an excerpt from another outstanding article featured by Forbes magazine’s website and written by Brenna Sniderman. To read the complete article, check out other resources, sign up for free email alerts, and obtain subscription information, please click here.
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Whenever I try to conjure up what innovation looks like, the same slideshow of images clicks across my mind: that photo of Einstein with his tongue sticking out, Edison with his light bulb, Steve Jobs onstage in his black turtleneck, introducing the latest iThing. Unoriginal and overdone, to be sure. And not all that accurate.
Because it’s not just about that romantic “ah ha!” moment in front of a chalkboard or a cocktail napkin, it’s about the nitty-gritty work that comes after the idea: getting it accepted and implemented. Who are these faces? And, most importantly, as I’m sure you’re all asking yourselves: where do I fit in?
Forbes Insights’ recent study, “Nurturing Europe’s Spirit of Enterprise: How Entrepreneurial Executives Mobilize Organizations to Innovate,” isolates and identifies five major personalities crucial to fostering a healthy atmosphere of innovation within an organization. Some are more entrepreneurial, and some more process-oriented – but all play a critical role in the process. To wit: thinkers need doers to get things done, and idealists need number crunchers to tether them to reality.
Though it may seem stymieing at times, in any healthy working environment, a tension between the risk-takers and the risk-averse must exist; otherwise, an organization tilts too far to one extreme or the other and either careens all over the place or moves nowhere at all. 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.
The Forbes Insights study surveyed more than 1,200 executives in Europe across a range of topics and themes. Using a series of questions about their attitudes, beliefs, priorities and behaviors, coupled with a look at the external forces that can either foster – or desiccate – an innovative environment, a picture emerged of five key personality types the play a role in the innovation cycle.
This last piece – the corporate environment – is a stealth factor that can make or break the potential even the most innovative individual. Look at it this way: a blue whale is the largest animal known ever to have existed, but if you tried to put it in a freshwater lake, it wouldn’t survive. Well, that and it would displace a lot of water. My point? Even the largest and mightiest of creatures can’t thrive in an environment that doesn’t nurture them.
The themes surveyed in the study are universal; despite the focus on European executives, these personalities are applicable across oceans and cultures. The full study, available here, provides further breakdown of where these personality types congregate by industry, company size and job function.
I’ll leave it to you to decide which one fits you best . You may even see a little of yourself in more than one group. But remember, none of these are bad. All play crucial roles in developing an idea, pushing it up the corporate channels, developing a strategy and overseeing execution and implementation. These are all pieces of a puzzle, arteries leading to the beating heart of corporate innovation. Wow – can I make that sound any more dramatic?
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Brenda then discusses each of the five personality types. To read the complete article, please click here.
As she explains, “I’m the Senior Director of Research at Forbes Insights. I’m most passionate about getting to the bottom of how (and why) things tick, and have focused on qualitative and quantitative primary research for over a decade. At Forbes, I research global trends among senior executives and organizations across any industry and topic you can imagine, from cloud computing, talent management and green technology to diversity, women leadership roles, retail financing and M&A trends. I received an undergraduate degree in economics from the University of Pennsylvania, as well as a master’s degree in strategic communications from Columbia University. Drop me a line at email@example.com, or follow me on Twitter at @brennasniderman.”
A paradox for our times: One’s career and personal life are separate…and inseparable
The work-life balance is an issue that has fascinated me for decades. Hence my interest in this book in which Matthew Kelly claims that, in fact, the work-life balance is a “myth” that people must “get beyond” to achieve their personal and professional satisfaction.” As he observes in the Introduction, “While the work-life balance discussion was introduced with the very best if intentions – namely, to help people deal with mounting pressures surrounding both personal and professional life in the modern world – in many ways the idea never had a chance because the term itself was fatally flawed.” Kelly believes that individual destiny and organizational destiny are “intertwined.” Yes, you can consider work life from personal life separately but they cannot be separated. What to do? Kelley wrote this book in response to that question.
These are a few of several dozen key points that caught my eye:
o “I have come to the conclusion that people don’t really need or want balance.” Rather, they need and want “a satisfying experience of life.” (Page x)
o “The crisis of the modern world is a crisis of ideas. Ideas shape our lives and the world. Thought determines action. It would not be too soon for us to learn that ideas have very real consequences.” (19)
o “If it is to be sustained, our satisfaction has to be something that transcends external circumstances. It cannot be something that we put in the hands of things that are completely beyond our control.” (47)
o “Continuous change is now an accepted part of life and business. The waves of change are constantly crashing on the shore of our lives, but it is a well-defined value structure that allows us to thrive in the midst of the change. It us the unchanging that allows us to make sense of the change.” (79)
o “There are five facets to the process [of increasing the level of personal and professional satisfaction that we experience in our lives]: (1) Assessment, (2) Priorities, (3) Core Habits, (4) Weekly Strategy Session, and (5) Quarterly Review. All of these are interconnected and play either a macro or micro role within the overall process. To neglect one is to tamper with the system, which always leads the system to break down.” (107)
o “The most important part of any system is accountability…I have noticed that most people can do something for a few days, or a few weeks, but over time they tend to slip back into old self-destructive ways. That’s why we need doctors, managers, parents, leaders, role models, and mentors.” (134)
The Personal and Professional Satisfaction System that Kelly explains and strongly recommends – indeed any system – can only provide a framework (albeit one that is to some extent self-correcting) and its effectiveness depends almost entirely by the person who adopts it and then applies it. Viewed as a journey, the process of increasing one’s level of personal and professional satisfaction is not automatic. Although the ultimate destination is certain, efforts to get there will encounter doubts, distractions, ambiguities, resistance (at least some of it self-generated), and temporary setbacks. The “balance” to which Kelly frequently refers evokes the image of a spinning gyroscope rather than an up-and-down see saw (or teeter totter) because its steady rotation is maintained amidst changes in location. A sturdy moral “compass” and a well-defined value structure ensure both proper balance and steady progress.
Years ago, Stephen Covey observed that people spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important. I agree and so does Matthew Kelley. “To lay your head on your pillow at night, knowing that who you are and what you do make sense…now, that is satisfaction.” We are also well-advised to recall advice from Oscar Wilde: “Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.”