An archetype is an original model of a person, ideal example, or a prototype after which others are copied, patterned, or emulated; a symbol universally recognized by all. Archetypes put context to a situation. We use archetypes, for example, in marketing. We create brand archetypes to assign a personality to the brand. An example of such a model is shown at right. In political debate, it’s useful to understand whether a commentator is an “archetypical democrat” or an “archetypical republican.” This helps frame their comments so we know where they are coming from.
Listening to the Voice of Innovation is the same. As I read blogs, interviews, and books on innovation, I try to determine the author’s innovation archetype so I know where they are coming from. I observe at least four of these.
The four Innovation Archetypes are:
It is likely there are more innovation archetypes than these four. Others could be defined around some of the brand archetypes displayed in the model above. Certainly there are people who display multiple archetypes, perhaps all four.
In the corporate domain, we need all four archetypes. Those that preach
create the mandate for change. They mobilize the leadership and staff to focus on innovation as a source of organic growth. The Doers and Teachers tend to put things into motion. Watchers are the “sense makers.” They are trend spotters. They have a unique perspective on external innovation to give useful context to internal innovation. A lot of corporate mergers and acquisition departments fall into this category. They are “hunters” of opportunity.
As you listen to the Voices of Innovation, see if you
can spot their archetype. Who are the leading Innovation Preachers in our innovation community, for example? Also, ask yourself: what is your archetype?
Which do you aspire to become? Most importantly, how will you get there?
*Special thanks to Michel Jansen, author of Brand Prototyping, for use of the graphic above.