Innovation through division creates productive tension in your team that allows creativity to spring to life. But in order to do this, you have to know a few things.
All Talent isn’t the Same
You have innovators and adapters on your team that both do different things. The innovators try to find a different solution, while adapters try to find one that’s better.
Usually, the innovator will create a revolutionary product, while the adapter makes small improvements on the existing product. But the innovator does this with more trial and error. Also, there’s no guarantee she’ll come up with something new.
What this means
Adapters are better at pulling us to the predetermined finish line.
Innovators are better at ignoring speed and focusing on quality instead.
Why it works
In advertising, you have an account executive, who’s usually an adapter. She’s more concerned with getting things done and preserving the client relationship. But the creative staff that works for her client is made up of innovators. Those innovators are looking past best practices, and often aren’t trying to please the client, but rather trying to please the client’s customers.
Did you catch that? The account executive is trying to serve the client, which makes the client feel heard and creates the ambassadorial relationship. The creatives are interested in making the client’s customers understand them. And this tension creates brilliant results.
How it Looks
If you want to know what it looks like when a client has full control over their creative, just watch the low-cost commercials on TV. Notice the number of times the owners’ family members are in the spot. Or how the message is spread across quality, service and price, without really differentiating. Or how the brand talks about themselves more than they talk about their customers. This is what it looks like when everyone in the agency is trying to please the client.
To get great results, you want strategy that’s based in research, that helps drive the creatives to understand that one thing a customer needs to hear—that one thing that’ll get them to buy. And then they tell that story, and don’t ever talk about price.
How to use it
So now, in your business, product development could be led by innovators who are interested in defining the problem really well. Those definitions then inform your practical innovators (engineers, writers and designers) who will then execute a solution with the customer in mind.
Adapters become the project managers, the HR folks, administrators and otherwise people who are a little better, faster, stronger, etc. These are the people who make the innovation work in society.
So when you’re planning how you’ll operate, and how you’ll staff, put some time into thinking about what you’re asking people to do. Are you asking them to innovate or to adapt? And if you’re having problem with staff planning or writing the job description, look me up, and I’ll lend you a hand.