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Selecting the right people to manage the ideas pipeline

Some recent research shows that there are some critical positions in the innovation process that can make or break your success in innovation. Ideas often lose their potential in the shaping process and the filtering process that they go through in order to get funding. The research shows that if the wrong people are involved in this shaping and filtering, innovation will be far less successful than if intuitive thinkers are involved.

When it comes to shaping and filtering the new product ideas for funding, research shows that a certain type of person, called INTUITIVE THINKERS, are likely to be 9 times more effective at moving the organisation towards innovation and standout products than the average person. Indeed Intuitive Thinkers are 95 times more effective than certain groups.

For organisations that want to be Product Leaders with more speed, flexibility and innovation this is vital. If you want to be good at product/service development you simply must select the right people to a few critical roles. The research was reported in an article, subtitled: "Selecting the right people for the right roles dramatically improves the effectiveness of new business development" published in Research - Technology Management, March-April 2003.

As the article states, intuitive thinkers are critical at the FUZZY END of the innovation process because they have the ability to:

  1. Do more projects
  2. Come up with more ideas for new products/improvements
  3. Make the ideas that they get, work more successfully by looking for the good and using it rather than rejecting the whole idea because one bit is wrong. This is what the article means when it says they branched the projects more frequently (redirected them or significantly morphed them)
  4. Were responsible for identifying concepts that, when later commercialised, were about 12 times more successful.

Although I have always known that a difference existed, the degree was a surprise even to me. As the article says, this represents a major success factor that has heretofore been overlooked.

Intuitive thinkers exist in most organisations, but as the article shows they are often undervalued and looked on, in the words of the article, as "wild mustangs". The trick is firstly to identify these people, organise them into projects and manage their somewhat undisciplined thinking.

The article uses Myers Briggs (MBTI) to identify the intuitive thinkers. I use MBTI quite extensively and could use it for this purpose, however Herrmann's Thinking Preferences Technology is a far stronger tool because Herrmann is specially designed to measure this thinking. In Herrmann's terms these people are called Innovators or D Quadrant They are right brained thinking types. An example of a 'Big D' is shown in the chart below:

"A" quadrant types are the THINKERS they are left brain/thinking types, rational, financial
"B" quadrant types are the ORGANISERS they are left brain/feeling types, planner, organised
"C" quadrant types are the HUMANITARIANS, they are right brain/feeling types, feeling, interpersonal
"D" quadrants types are the INNOVATORS they are right brain/thinking , intuitive, innovative.
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