Can you estimate your organization’s innovative capabilities?

So what’s been cooking in our Bean’s kitchen? Innovation surely has! Our recent and most favorite dish on the menu is a self-assessment tool that investigates an individual’s or an organization’s innovative capabilities. Quite an indispensable view when involving an entire organization in the process.

The tool is called Innovation M&M and assesses innovative capabilities on two dimensions and simultaneously breaks it down into two extra components.

Dimensions: Exploring vs Implementing

The dimensions (axes) in this plot are ‘exploring’ and ‘implementing’. Exploring is the crucial first part of innovation. It covers all the mindsets and skills that are needed to generate new ideas and to spot new opportunities. The second dimension ‘implementing’ is all about transforming a strong idea into concrete results, through careful planning and testing.

By plotting these two dimensions 4 interesting profiles emerge

  • Ideators feel a natural drive to challenge the status quo and to explore new opportunities. Their energy is often outside-focused, scanning the world and the market for inspiration and innovative practices. In interaction, ideators tend to question everything and get energy from finding new ways to do things – or just find new things to do. When they use their skills well, they can lead an organization into the future. When they fail to make connections with the rest of the organization, they risk getting alienated from the rest or, if they hold strategic positions, they might end up driving the corporate bus with no one on it.
  • Brokers combine the best of both worlds. They understand the challenges of innovation and can even be the driving force behind it, and at the same time, they possess the mindset and muscles to make it actually happen. Their novel ideas often result in efficiency-focused innovations that help move an organization along. They show a greater awareness of the challenges of translating novel ideas into more tangible outcomes. Their ideal role is being the linking pin between strategic vision and implementation tactics. Their ambidextrous skill set helps them bridge the persistent gap between ideation and implementation.
  • Implementers are not naturally inclined to question the bigger picture or to scan for new opportunities. However, if they have sufficient understanding of the need for innovation, they will give their utmost to make ideas actually work. Give them a rough idea and they will transform it into concrete plans. Their strong persistent preference for execution over innovation can create a challenge if others view them as unable to generate valuable new ideas. They succeed best by combining their results-focused energy with equally competent ideators – even if it’s challenging at times to work closely together.
  • Followers are not really driven by a desire to innovate. In large organizations, however, a large number of followers are needed to get the work done. Because they naturally don’t focus on innovation, they don’t feel the need to be involved when generating or ideas or drafting innovation plans. They neither excel in implementation power. Nevertheless, their energy and effort is of key importance when the nitty gritty work needs to be done, especially in larger organizations. Furthermore, their operational focus makes them ideal ‘reality checkers’ and often their functional expertise is crucial once beyond the stage of prototyping and testing. 

Components: Mindset vs Muscles

The two extra components mentioned earlier are ‘Mindset’ and ‘Muscles’ (M&M). To excel in either dimension, one needs both the appropriate mindset and the right skills (muscles). Therefore – next to a detailed profile on both dimensions and components – the Innovation M&M offers guidelines and tools for further development. On the organization level, blind spots can be identified. On the individual level, people can sharpen existing skills and identify concrete learning opportunities to develop new mindsets and muscles. 

Find out more about your innovative capabilities? Let’s talk!

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