Innovation spirit: What makes a company having it?

team-spirit-959269_640If you walk in various companies as I do, you likely noticed there is something in the air in the ones involved in practical innovation. This little something others don’t have is difficult to define, but is likely related to something light and walking. In a word, they are full of project-driven people. I was wondering if we could quantify this and I remembered about the Carl Jung’s work. In fact, he didn’t really invent this quantification because we can find many clues about it in ancient Greece texts, or in Indian’s Mahabharata, but he really clarified it.

Humanity can be categorized in four groups. Some people can be between two of them, so we have to consider them just as trends:

  • 10% are NT, pandits, thinkers, inventors, creators, they like truth;
  • 20% are NF, idealists, care takers, in quest for social harmony, they like justice;
  • 30% are SP, action people, in quest of the perfect gesture, best design and art, they like to act and make;
  • 40% are SJ, conservative people, in quest of ideal (but changing) morality and stability, they like setting in order.

In fact I think, in the case of innovation atmosphere in companies, we can just split them in two groups:

  • Project-driven people: NT+SP focused on projects, hoping each days to be different from the previous one, targeting a goal to be reached at the end of the project;
  • Cyclical people: NF+SJ focused on the perfect repetition of the methods, teachings, usages, from day to day in the respect of tradition and standards.

According to Jung, project-driven people are 40% of the humanity when the majority enjoys cyclical processes.

I think, most of the time, startups attract, by nature, project-driven people when established companies are perfect for more conservative people in charge of validated and standardised processes. The problem is simple: how to recover the « project » state of mind we had in startups when the product become old and we need to recreate a new one? If we look day-to-day business news, we can see the most common answers companies choose: Buy a startup, create a business unit, a corporate lab or any other honey pot to attract project people, because when the company reached a stabilised process of production, they likely vanished away. So, if keeping inside cyclical people is often an easy task for human resources, it is a major challenge to hold back project-driven people. They need constant new exciting projects, being in touch with the outside world, constantly connecting with influencers and playing with rules. So established companies, seamlessly, tend to be tired about them and searching the comfort of managing cyclical people. Then, the rules and standards are more and more perfectly managed and the money arrives from customers as well as from investors…up to the black day when the market, technology or regulation changed… A former CTO I knew told me: « Always take care of your freaks ». Certainly a good advice.

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