Part Two

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The Airport Innnovator

The Airport Innovator

Act of treachery: The Airport Innovator thinks he’s an innovation black belt because he’s read all of the innovation books. But he doesn’t recognize that his experience in the corporate world—and all that reading in the Admiral’s Club at O’Hare—hasn’t taught him everything about innovation. He’s afraid to try anything new that isn’t literally “by the books,” and he never questions what he’s reading.

Weapons of choice: “To quote Clayton Christensen …,” “Let’s use this innovation framework I was just reading about [pulls out book],” “We can’t just sit down and do this willy-nilly.”

Kryptonite: Don’t kill the Airport Innovator’s passion; channel it into an appropriate role. He needs practical experience—to get out of the classroom and into the trenches. Put him on a project where he’s not just talking theoretically, where he can apply what he’s read to the real world. Let him experience what really works and what doesn’t so he can form his own opinions.

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Doctor Gravitas

Doctor Gravitas

Act of treachery: Doctor Gravitas despises the fuzzy front end of innovation. He’s about answers and impact, but doesn’t appreciate the journey. He’s all business all the time and can’t get in the spirit of things. He can’t step outside his normal 9-5 to think creatively about the challenges facing his company. Doctor Gravitas is a real downer and doesn’t believe that work and fun should ever mix.

Weapons of choice: “Can we dispense with this nonsense and just get to the idea?” “Yeah, but what’s the ROI going to be?” “Experience tells me …”

Kryptonite: Show him how getting outside the norm can drive strong commercial ideas. Illustrate the importance of stimulus, and demonstrate the link between creativity and results. Tell him stories about how “the fluffy stuff,” applied smartly, has led to business successes.

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The Hidden Agenda

The Hidden Agenda

Act of treachery: The Hidden Agenda is willing to humor those who are trying to find their own answers to problems, but she already knows what idea she wants put forward—and she can’t wait to strike. She’ll go through the paces so that other concepts can be vetted, but it’s all for show. Her main goal is to drive the discussion toward her pre-determined thinking. She’s got the solution; everyone else just hasn’t figured it out yet.

Weapons of choice: “Oh, I love that idea, it makes me think of [insert hidden agenda here],” “I just thought of something—[insert fully formed idea here],” “I think we know where this is taking us [insert preconceived notion here].”

Kryptonite: Call out the Hidden Agenda ahead of time. Have a one-on-one to discern what her idea is so it’s out in the open. In session force her to share her idea by saying that it’s normal for everyone to have tried to work out answers in their own heads. The key is to have clear criteria for what moves forward and what doesn’t, and her thinking has to meet the criteria (as the problem-owners have defined it).

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The Quant

The Quant

Act of treachery: The Quant always need another study, and then another study, to make a decision. His goal is to minimize, and then further minimize, risk. He relies on massive quantitative analyses of consumers; every project he’s on suffers from paralysis.

Weapons of choice: “This decision’s being based on what test results?” “How many people were in that study?” “How do we know we’ve exhausted all the options and have the best idea?”

Kryptonite: Explain that there’s always a time for data. But if you rely on it to the exclusion of all other tools, you’ll only get to least-common-denominator results. Get the Quant to help the team be creative about how data is mixed with insight, intuition, and other stimulus to drive innovation. Stress that sometimes you can glean higher-quality consumer insights by going deeper with smaller pools.

Click here if you missed Part One.

Illustrations by Alex Fine.

FROM the greenhouse