Enhance Productivity and Efficiency with Stephen’s Innovation Insights

Innovation Insights by Stephen Shapiro

Innovation can be, and should be, fun. Here is a 16 question “diagnostic tool” I published back in 2001 in my first book, 24/7 Innovation. It may help you assess just how innovative your organization is. It is, admittedly, quite tongue in cheek and not a serious diagnostic. But who knows, you might just learn something. Send this to your colleagues and see if they agree with your answers! International readers: Apologies for the American references and idioms.

1. You overhear two people talking about your company at lunch. They say:
A. “The people here are about as creative as a brick.”
B. “If we have one more brainstorming meeting, I’m going to go crazy.”
C. “They have come up with a lot of good ideas here.”
D. “Not only do they develop great ideas here, but they actually do something with them.”

2. When someone comes up with an innovative idea at your company, they…
A. are called into the boss’s office and told that that sort of thing isn’t done around here.
B. receive quite a few askance glances, but people think about their ideas in private.
C. are regarded with the same serious decorum that would be afforded any contributor.
D. are publicly recognized for their efforts.

3. If your organization were the Three Musketeers, what would your motto be?
A. One for one
B. One for all
C. All for one
D. All for one and one for all

4. You propose to your department head that you schedule a two-day idea-generation session for an important business need. S/he:
A. Says (after s/he has stopped laughing), “How’s that again?”
B. Explains, “We didn’t plan for that in our budget or workplans. But if you can find the time on your own, let me know how it goes.”
C. Says, “I think that’s a great idea. We have a small contingency budget set up specifically for this type of thing.”
D. Says, “That’s a great idea. Not only will we give you some seed money, but we will also assign a VP who will sponsor and drive the change.”

5. If you were to schedule an idea-generation session tomorrow for your company, what equipment would be readily available?
A. Flip-charts and pens
B. Audio (to play CDs to set the tone for the meeting)
C. Digital imaging (to capture ideas in their creative context)
D. A conference room specifically designed for idea-generating sessions

6. You have conceived a very innovative idea for your company. Your cynical friend starts a pool that tracks the odds of a successful implementation. The resulting odds are:
A. One in a million
B. One in a hundred
C. Even money
D. Sell your Google stock and put it here

7. Your work area is like:
A. An assembly line
B. A library
C. A bakery
D. A design studio

8. You have just walked out of an innovation meeting at your company and bump into a co-worker you haven’t seen for a while. S/he asks, “So how did you get picked for this?” You reply:
A. “I screwed up on my last deliverable, and this is my penance.”
B. “I was standing by the water cooler one minute too long.”
C. “I was selected from a list of volunteers.”
D. “They liked my idea so much, they wanted me to lead the effort to flesh it out.”

9. If you had a question about innovation, who would you talk to?
A. Yourself
B. The goofy guy with the scented markers and koosh balls on his desk
C. The designated innovation leader or innovation core team member
D. Anyone, because everyone is well versed in innovation and creativity

10. Select the phrase that best describes the level of creativity skills within your organization:
A. Brainstormed a few times
B. Know a few good creativity techniques to spark new ideas
C. Have a lot of tools and know when to apply them
D. Know how to integrate creativity techniques into other process techniques (i.e., the two are not separate)

11. Within my organization, innovation is …
A. non-existent.
B. performed by members of an innovation/R&D team (typically in a back-room somewhere).
C. part of occasional brainstorming sessions that include a variety of employees.
D. embedded in our daily work.

12. Which 1960s TV show best illustrates how innovation is used on your project?
A. The Three Stooges
B. I Dream of Jeannie
C. Gilligan’s Island
D. The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

13. How do you know when you have a good idea within your organization?
A. Insufficient data to respond to this question.
B. If it looks just like our last good idea.
C. Everyone (or the boss) thinks it sounds good.
D. We used quantitative analysis tools including simulations and pilots to rapidly (and accurately) prototype solutions.

14. Which TV character would be most comfortable in your work environment?
A. Sergeant Joe Friday (“Just the facts, ma’am”)
B. Sherlock Holmes (“Whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth”)
C. Columbo (“There’s just one more thing I’m not quite comfortable with . . .”)
D. MacGyver (“Have you got a paper clip so I can defuse this bomb, program the auto-motion tracker, and cook dinner?”)

15. What kind of tools do you regularly use to support innovation?
A. Flip-charts and pens for brainstorming supports by Powerpoint and Visio
B. Creativity software/products, such as mind mapping and idea generation tools
C. A home-grown intranet portal with a suggestion box and data sharing tools
D. Commercial collaboration software such as Idea Central or InnoCentive

16. You are conducting a man-on-the-street interview with a random selection of people from your company. You thrust your microphone into each person’s face, and aggressively ask, “What is the role of innovation on our project?” Most of them say:
A. “Huh?”
B. “We talk about it, but it’s primarily lip service.”
C. “There are pockets of innovation but it is certainly not pervasive.”
D. “We make it a part of all we do.”


I am sure some of the more curious of you (and if you got this far, you must be curious) are wondering what your IQ (Innovation Quotient) is. Here’s how to figure your score: Each “A” is worth 5 points; each “B” is worth 10 points; each “C” is worth 15 points; each “D” is worth 20 points.

If you scored less than 100 points:
Check yourself into innovation Intensive Care.

If you scored between 100 and 160:
The books and articles on this website might be just what the doctor ordered to get your company into better health.

If you scored between 160 and 240:
You are quite advanced, but could still learn a trick or two. Maybe it’s time to bring in Steve Shapiro for a speech or workshop to help you get to the next level.

If you scored more than 240:
Give Steve Shapiro a call. He wants to include you in his next book!

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