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Innovation Insights
by Stephen Shapiro

Move Your Innovators to the Front-Line

I am writing a new book on innovation that contains over 100 tips for turning creativity into profitability. Every tip is bite sized (typically one page in length) in order to be easily digestible. Each week I will post at least one tip from the book.

Here is tip #1 from the book:

Move Your Innovators to the Front-Line

A study carried out at Eckerd College in Florida challenges traditional “back-room” innovation models. Managers at the school were tested to determine whether they were “innovators” (those who do things differently and break the rules) or “adapters” (those who do things better within the rules).

The managers were then broken into teams to solve a given problem. Each team was comprised of two groups: 1) the “planners” who had to work out a solution to the problem, and 2) the “implementers” who were charged with making it work. There were three teams, each made up of planners and implementers.

Team #1: The planners were made up of the “innovators” and the implementers group was comprised of “adapters”.

Team #2: The planning group had both “innovators” and “adapters,” as did the group of implementers.

Team #3: The planning group contained only “adapters” and the implementers group contained only “innovators”.

Which was most effective? Although most organizations use the first model, the third model was most effective. The “adapters” were able to come up with a design very quickly. The innovators were then able to take that design and build something from it, correcting and improving as they went along.

Move innovation out of the back room and bring it to the forefront of your organization. This creates greater speed, responsiveness, and flexibility.