Innovators & Adaptors

Kirton Adaption-Innovation Inventory (KAI)
In the late 1970's, a British Industrial and Occupational Psychologist, Dr Michael Kirton, started to make sense of how people prefer to solve problems.

He observed that the style with which people solved problems could be placed on a spectrum:
At one end he noted people gravitate to novel, radical, spontaneous activities.

When you observe them they come across as: Adventurous, desirous of ambiguity, plain-speaking, experimental, pioneering, blue-sky thinking, and boundary-pushing.

Kirton called these people creative innovators. Examples include Nikolai Tesla, Elon Musk and Steve Jobs.

At the other end of the problem-solving style spectrum, Kirton noted some people prefer routine, control, the tried-and-tested, managed risk, and clarity.

When you observe them they come across as: Organised, structured, tidy, safe, reliable, efficient, systematic, stable, good with detail, judicious, cautious, thorough, conventional, and seek consensus when working with others.

Kirton called these people, creative adaptors. Examples include Thomas Edison, Marie Curie, Jeff Bezos and Tim Cook.

Kirton called those in centre of the spectrum "Bridgers" as they were able to exploit the best (and avoid the worst) of the outliers.

Kirton uncovered that history is littered with pairs of adaptors and innovators who collaborated with great success. In fact, Kirton observed that "Behind every successful innovator, there's an adaptor, and behind every successful adaptor there's an innovator." Examples include, Jobs and Cook, Hindenburg and Ludendorff, Gilbert and Sullivan, McCartney and Lennon.

Wardley also spotted that certain styles are best a solving certain problems. He concluded that Pioneers (Creative Innovators) are well suited to unearthing new opportunities, that Settlers (Creative Bridgers) are equipped to take ideas and make them practical and pragmatic, while Town Planners (Creative Adaptors) can be relied onto scale business, quickly, efficiently and at the lowest risk.

Successful businesses need all 3 groups.

So are you a natural Pioneer, Settler or Town Planner?

Find out your preference (and where you live on a Wardley Map) in 15 mins or less. By completing the KAI inventory you'll be able to determine your style (and your map location), and you can use this knowledge to take on tasks in which you'll excel, and select others who'll compliment your skills.

You can access your KAI inventory here.