Do you consider yourself an innovator? I asked this to a group of participants at a recent PDMA workshop, and the results surprised me. Only about half of the participants raised their hand. Many of those had that hesitant look of self-doubt on their face.
It’s a difficult question. How do you really know if you are an innovator? Is it based on the number of patents you hold? Is it a function of your job title? Is it based on your creative endeavors like music or art?
Take this self-assessment to find out. Place a check mark beside the statement you believe is more true. (Click here for a printable version and for scoring instructions.)
1. A. Innovation occurs by adding features to a product.
B. Innovation occurs by taking features out of a product.
2. A. Innovation is finding problems that are solved by hypothetical solutions.
B. Innovation is finding solutions to difficult problems.
3. A. I am more likely to innovate when I work alone.
B. I am more likely to innovate when I work in a group.
4. A. Innovation is more about creating novel ideas.
B. Innovation is more about selecting the best ideas.
5. A. When I innovate, I “brainstorm” ideas out of my head.
B. When I innovate, I follow a series of steps to find ideas.
6. A. Innovating is predictable and not risky.
B. Innovating is unpredictable and risky.
7 . A. The ability to innovate is a gift that you are born with.
B. The ability to innovate is a skill that you can learn.
8. A. I prefer ambiguity when pondering new ideas.
B. I prefer clarity when pondering new ideas.
9. A. The Post-It Note is a good example of innovation because it was spontaneous.
B. The Post-It Note is a bad example of innovation because it was spontaneous.
10. A. I feel responsible for innovating new ideas.
B. I feel others are responsible for innovating new ideas.
11. A. Innovating is a random, improvisational, back-and-forth experience.
B. Innovating is a systematic, linear experience.
12. A. Constraints on resources like time and money drive innovation.
B. Constraints on resources like time and money inhibit innovation.
13. A. Homogeneous groups are more likely to innovate.
B. Diverse groups are more likely to innovate.
14. A. Innovation can be scheduled. It can occur anytime I want.
B. Innovation cannot be scheduled. It occurs randomly.
15. A. Innovation is an unstructured process.
B. Innovation is a patterned, “templated” process.
How do you rate? Here is a general guideline:
11 to 15 points: Consider yourself an innovator. Put it in your Twitter bio.
6 to 10 points: Innovating is a mixed bag for you, but you may be headed in the right direction.
0 to 5 points: Innovation is a mystery to you. Consider formal training.