An ode to innovation…

Yesterday evening, I had the opportunity to participate in a seminar on innovation, sponsored by a wonderful, Minneapolis-based agency appropriately named “Ideas To Go”. This firm is composed of some very bright, creative folks who assist clients nationally to elevate their game when it comes to breaking through paradigms.

One of IDG’s “best and brightest” is Katie Konrath, whose blog www.getfreshminds should be required reading for all in marketing, product development, organizational development, or just plain interested in catapulting their thinking. I have known Katie for a couple of years, and have been so impressed by her perspectives and intelligent approach to opening new horizons. This is no real surprise to anyone who has met this young dynamo, especially if they have had the chance to become acquainted with her mom, Jill Konrath ( ).

Jill K is the author of several revelatory books on the art of selling in the twenty-first century. Her landmark works Selling To Big Companies  and Snap Selling,  have redefined the art of the customer-centric sales process. As a speaker, Jill is about as good as it gets, and as a sales strategist, Jill’s experience, wisdom and insight are priceless.

What amazes me about these two is how connected they are on so many levels, and yet so individually potent in their own domains. Truly, the proverbial “apple” did not fall very far from the tree.

During the course of the session on Wednesday, I learned more about the varying styles and degrees of innovation, and how we are best equipped to live and work together. Some highlights:

  1. Everyone is born with an innate ability to be creative. It is part of the human condition, and like other skills or talents, can be developed and honed.
  2. There is a spectrum of creativity which ranges from those who are defined as “Adaptors” to those who are identified as “Innovators”.
  3. The Adaptor is one who leverages their surroundings, either environmental or cultural or situational, to create new vision, beliefs, or values.
  4. The Innovator looks beyond what exists to reset boundaries, to create something never seen or done before, or to displace what “is” with what “could be”.
  5. Every company, society, family is populated with both Adaptors and Innovators…the key to maximizing potential is to establish a fertile common ground for both to function at a high level of productivity and satisfaction.

It is easy to identify Adaptors and Innovators (simply Google “Kirtin Adaptation-Innovation Inventory to learn more, or contact Susan Wandell or Cynthia Ryan at  Ideas To Go via their website (

Some examples come to mind: In the field of art, iconic Adaptors include Claude Monet, Pierre-August Renoir, or Paul Cezanne, all viewed as radicals in their time, as they created classical impressionist works. Similarly, one need only look to Salvadore Dali, Pablo Picasso or Joan Miro to find contemporary Innovators, courageously harnessing their respective visions to lead art to new dimensions. Both Adaptors and Innovators deliver a powerful impact, whether it be to the arts, technology, science or commerce.

What matters most is that they (indeed, we all) must be granted the permission and latitude to comfortably (if not, forcibly) and openly prosper new thinking to replace aging or obsolete paradigms. Thankfully, there are voices in our midst (such as Jill and Katie, along with so many others) to help us open the doors to greater opportunities.

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