FourSight: Innovation when it works and when it fails

FourSight: Innovation when it works and when it fails

An Innov8ors Miami Keynote by Sarah Thurber

Last year Innov8rs embarked on a year-long research project to better understand: who are corporate innovators? What makes them tick? What makes their efforts succeed and fail?

We partnered with FourSight, creators of the FourSight Thinking Profile, to assess more than 350 innovators from around the world. We collected data from Europe, Asia, North America and Australia. Today, we’ll unveil those findings and talk about the implications for innovators in organizations.

Let’s start with the basics: organizations exist for a single reason: to add value—and they innovate to add new value. At FourSight we look at the thinking that supports all of the ways people add new value on behalf of organizations. We call it The Science of Creativity.

Let’s also define creativity, which is what we call the ability to bring new value into being. From our work creativity and innovation are interlinked. Fully defined, innovation is creativity at scale.

What is perceived as the common enemy: rule-bound conformists. In reality the truth sees this yin/yang like tension between the polarities of originality and conformity. They need each other. Sometimes you need to be efficient, safe, and predictable. Other times you need to be innovative, dynamic, new. You need all skills is your goal is not only to come up with new concepts but to see them launched in the market and adopted.

Ideally there should be constant, dynamic interplay between these poles. What we try and do is discern the Thinking Preferences of each individual and help define their dominant mode.

We have discovered that there are four Universal Creative Types. We call the four types Clarifiers, Ideators, Developers, and Implementers. Creativity and Innovation calls of all four types of thinkers to work in community. Being aware of your dominant and secondary types is helpful.

Let’s look at each of the four types.

  1. Clarifiers love data. These are people who tend to explore problem spaces. Their preference is to present their viewpoints in fact-backed, prove-able ways. Clarifiers are perfectly suited to figure out what problems we want to solve and what strategic benefits are gained by solving that particular set of issues.
  2. Ideators are your big picture thinkers who excel at making connections that others may not see. Typically they operate at a high level, but bore of details quickly. They are best at jumping from idea to idea.
  3. Developers build out ideas as prototypes, code, pilot-able products, and other tangible and testable artifacts. They serve as the bridge between the idea and the formal execution of the idea.
  4. Implementers have the force of will to take new things to the market and discover where the best fit exists. For them the journey is about unearthing results and measuring outcomes. Implementers take a  just do it approach, hoping to test, fail, and most important, learn and adapt, at the speed innovation requires.

These four types compliment one another to ensure that creativity can create new value at scale.

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Michael GraberMichael Graber is the managing partner of the Southern Growth Studio, an innovation and strategic growth firm based in Memphis, TN and the author of Going Electric. Visit to learn more.

Michael Graber




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