There is a growing recognition that fostering a culture of innovation is critical to success. To understand roles and group dynamics in a community, organisation or a society, and establish an environment of open dialogue to enable and promote innovation it is of fundamental importance to recognize the variety of characters within the group. Each is as valuable as the next, however, a thorough understanding can be beneficial to the innovative process and the community as a whole as participatory capabilities can be assigned more effectively.
Individuals as well as communities and societies need to constantly gather new sources of information in order to expand their knowledge and grow, so learning plays an ever important role. Driven by the idea that no matter how successful a solution is, no one can afford to be complacent. The world is changing everyday, and today’s great idea may be tomorrow’s anachronism. Learning helps to keep from becoming too internally focused.
Learners, anyone willing to learn is humble enough to question their own worldview, and in doing so they remain open to new insights every day.
The Anthropologist is rarely stationary. Rather, this is a person who ventures into the field to observe how people interact with products, services, and experiences in order to come up with new innovations. The Anthropologist is extremely good at re-framing a problem in a new way, humanizing the scientific method to apply it to daily life. Anthropologists share such distinguishing characteristics as the wisdom to observe with a truly open mind; empathy; intuition; the ability to “see” things that have gone unnoticed; a tendency to keep running lists of innovative concepts worth emulating and problems that need solving; and a way of seeking inspiration in unusual places.
The Experimenter celebrates the process, not the tool, testing and retesting potential scenarios to make ideas tangible. A calculated risk-taker, this person models everything from products to services to proposals in order to efficiently reach a solution. To share the fun of discovery, the Experimenter invites others to collaborate, while making sure that the entire process is saving time and money.
The Cross-Pollinator draws associations and connections between seemingly unrelated ideas or concepts to break new ground. Armed with a wide set of interests, an avid curiosity, and an aptitude for learning and teaching, the Cross-Pollinator brings in big ideas from the outside world to enliven their organization. People in this role can often be identified by their open mindedness, diligent note-taking, tendency to think in metaphors, and ability to reap inspiration from constraints.
Organizing is the capability to embark on the often counter-intuitive process of how to move ideas forward. Many other characters may believe that ideas should speak for themselves. Organizers understand that even the best ideas must continuously compete for time, attention, and resources. Those who adopt these organizing roles don’t dismiss the process of elementary issues as budget and resource allocation as “politics” or “red tape.” They recognize it as a complex game of chess, and they play to win.
The Hurdler is a tireless problem-solver who is motivated by tackling something that’s never been done before. When confronted with a challenge, the Hurdler gracefully sidesteps the obstacle while maintaining a quiet, positive determination. This optimism and perseverance can help big ideas upend the status quo as well as turn setbacks into a great success—despite doomsday forecasting by shortsighted “experts”.
The Collaborator is the rare person who truly values the team over the individual. In the interest of getting things done, the Collaborator coaxes people out of their ordinary environment to form multidisciplinary teams. In doing so, the person in this role dissolves traditional boundaries and creates opportunities for team members to assume new roles. More of a coach than a leader, the collaborator instills their team with the confidence and skills needed to complete the shared journey.
The Director has an acute understanding of the bigger picture, with a firm grasp on the pulse of their organization. Subsequently, the Director is talented at setting the stage, targeting opportunities, bringing out the best in their players, and getting things done. Through empowerment and inspiration, the person in this role motivates those around them to take center stage and embrace the unexpected.
Constructors apply insights from learners and channel the empowerment from the organizers to make innovation happen. Builders stamp their mark on a group. People in these roles are highly visible, so you’ll often find them right at the heart of the action.
The Experience Architect is that person relentlessly focused on creating remarkable individual experiences. This person facilitates positive encounters within your community through ways as products, services, digital interactions, spaces, or events. Whether an architect or a gardner, the Experience Architect maps out how to turn something ordinary into something distinctive—even delightful—every chance they get.
The Designer looks at every day as a chance to liven up space. They promote energetic, inspired cultures by creating environments that celebrate and stimulate creativity. To keep up with shifting needs and foster continuous innovation, the designer makes adjustments to a physical space to balance private and collaborative opportunities. In doing so, this person makes space itself a most versatile and powerful tool.
The Storyteller captures our imagination with compelling narratives of initiative, hard work, and innovation. This person goes beyond oral tradition to work in whatever medium best fits their skills and message: video, narrative, animation, even comic strips. By rooting their stories in authenticity, the storyteller can spark emotion and action, transmit values and objectives, foster collaboration, create heroes, and lead people and communities into the future.
The Caregiver is the foundation of human-powered innovation. Through empathy, they work to understand each individual and create a valued relationship. Whether a nurse in a hospital, an expert professional in a shop, the caregiver guides another individual through a process by providing them with a comfortable, human-centered experience.
To overcome our challenges we need to understand the requirements of successful innovation to a greater degree than ever before to generate: the confidence and insight to generate a novel idea or new approach; the motivation, commitment and resilience to pursue that idea; the leadership, energy and dynamism to communicate our vision to others and drive it forward from concept to reality.
The challenges of today and of the future, globalization, climate, technological and demographic change require a different response from our communities. We need to equip ourselves as well as our future generations not only with strong basic skills and specialist technical knowledge, but with the attitudes and wider skills to generate radical new solutions and adapt to our rapidly changing world.