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Innovation and Misfits

Posted 6 years ago

Pam is an expert at raising individual, team and organizational awareness.  She helps her clients break away from the ordinary and enhance their performance. Organizations can get stuck in ruts, but I’ve seen Pam change this.  In the 5+ years we’ve known each other, she’s continually demonstrated a gift for implementing meaningful organizational change. ~Dr. Tony Alessandra

Innovation and Misfits By Pamela Brooks

Innovation seems to be a buzz word in business these days. The companies that are innovative are getting ahead and those that are not innovative enough are falling behind. But what is innovation? How can companies become more innovative? The definition of innovation says it is the ‘act of introducing something new, or the presentation of new ideas, or making change to anything that is established.’ This implies that there are two aspects to innovation that every company needs to account for. One is the creation of a new idea and the second is actually making a change from what has been established. So how does a company come up with new ideas? Some of this can happen from using more innovative methods of problem solving when working in teams. If your company needs a shot in the arm in this area many turn to groups like Futurethink, run by Lisa Bodell, or to the work of Steve Wujec who teaches innovation strategies. Both are innovative thinkers and have documented many different ideas for helping ordinary people and companies come up with very new and innovative ideas. A second way for a company to introduce more innovative ideas is to hire more innovative thinkers. I read a recent article posted in Fast Company by Bud Caddell, called “How to Disrupt Yourself, the High Cost and Benefits of Hiring Misfits.” In it he makes some great points about how he went about hiring some “sore thumbs”, or as he called them “Misfit Toys,” and how he used them to build new marketing ideas and was very successful. In the article he notes he got lucky when he hired them, and that it took some work to assimilate them, and help them grow within the organization. He also noted that misfits don’t tend to fit in, so this alone will take work for the average person to manage. He also has discussions with the misfits themselves about how it is not easy to stand out and put one’s ‘self’ on the line. Bud warns them to be careful about what culture and leadership they subject themselves to. After reading the article however, I realized that what he had to say was great, but lacked some depth for the average person to actually implement. How can I find innovative people, if I don’t have that innate innovative mind like he did that attracts them? How do I know if the “Misfits” are too innovative to the point that they will not fit in, and how can I learn enough about them so that I know how to bring them in and work with them once they are a part of my team? The answer: by usinf an objective assessment that can actually measure innovation in judgment. I have been working with an assessment that actually captures the innovative mind. Around a third of the population is innovative in some capacity, be it how they work with people, problem solve, or set up rules and systems. This is not to say that you have to have an innovative mind to come up with new ideas, as Tom Wujec or Lisa Bodell would attest, there are many ways to be innovative. However, there is something to be said for those with a natural innovation or entrepreneurial spirit. Those who have it know what it is like sometimes to express an idea and get the glazed look on the faces around them, like they were just speaking a foreign language. Those who work with innovators know that they really see things from a different perspective. A great example of innovation comes from two different perspectives of a pile of garage. One sees is it in a very traditional way, as a collection of things that need to be thrown away. Another sees it as a sign of an organized society and can’t help but think about how garbage can be recycled once collected. Both can perceive the same object, but both may judge it in very different ways. The assessment I have been working with for the past 12 years can identify when innovative people have the potential to be an asset, especially when they can “create a demand for their own talents” much like Bud Caddell says in his article. However, they can become a real liability when their innovation takes over and they cannot relate well with others. I have also found that innovative people do really well in some settings, especially when there are other innovative minds to feed off of and relate to as Bud Caddell also mentions in his article, but they can really be the “sore thumb” when they are in the wrong environment or working with people that cannot relate to them. If you are seeking innovative minds, I would highly recommend the JUDGMENTcompass to assess what areas the person may be innovative in and to what degree they still have the ability to fit in or explain to others what they know and see. I highly recommend this tool for teams as well, so that you can identify the different problem solving strengths of each team member and know how to better tap into the thinking talent you have. You will also be able to identify when you may want to bring in some of the tools of innovation, like Lisa Bodell and Tom Wujec, have to help get past a potential blind spot in the thinking on your team.


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Human Performance Specialist, Pamela Brooks

Pamela Brooks founded Cornerstone Consulting over ten years ago, out of her passion for understanding human performance and human performance potential. Her interest in performance started many years earlier as a collegiate athlete and collegiate advisor. She wanted to understand what drives people to succeed and then help them tap their strengths and confront personal obstacles so they could increase their potential for success
Pam is also the Vice President of Education at the Robert S Hartman Institute, where she coordinates their efforts on a global level. Her directive is to increase both the Educational and Research efforts of the Institute and plans on launching new directives to increase the application and teaching of Robert Hartman’s work in Value Judgment, ethics, leadership, World Peace, and the many other applications of Axiology.
Pam was also a member of the team that developed the Assessments 24×7 JUDGMENT series assessment reports based on Robert S. Hartman’s formal axiology. The goal of that effort was to produce the premier HVP product available anywhere in the world.