Adaptors vs. Innovators

Let’s just start with this disclaimer, that I’m not hung up on labels….

Recently I’ve begun to realize how the Kirton Adaption-Innovation (KAI) Inventory of Dr. Michael Kirton represents itself in my daily interactions. The KAI scores really amount to how individuals confront issues and find solutions. In some ways it’s a measure of creativity as it comes to problem resolution and critical thinking. Each time I’ve been measured in my organization I have scored to the extreme end of the continuum towards Adaptor. I’m unable to recall my exact score, but I believe it was in the 60’s. One staff member with a lower score than mine has since left the organization – probably because she was driven nuts by the Innovators. LOL.

It’s rather interesting as I near completion of one project with an Innovator and am ramping up on another with yet a different Innovator – I see how my approach as an Adaptor is complimentary to the Innovators I work with, and in some cases, at odds. I’m usually not the “big picture” guy, but am detail oriented and a ‘doer’, which may explain some of my success in project management and taking failed initiatives through to completion. I also notice these tendencies in areas outside of the work environment, which is really interesting. This is a well studied area, similar to Myers-Briggs, that is applied in everything from personal relationships to team formation and group dynamics.

For those of you not familiar with the KAI Inventory, here are some links and good descriptions of the traits of both Adaptors and Innovators from Dr. Kirton.

Adaptors & Innovators Managing Each Other
Adaptors & Innovators – Why New Initiatives Get Blocked
Here’s a nice list of general traits for Adaptors and Innovators.

Fascinating thoughts as I look inward; I guess knowing more about my own personality and problem solving tendencies helps to determine my approach with others on the Innovation side of the coin, as well as those with Adaptor tendencies. Some of this may be simplified and generalized, but then again I’m not a psychologist. Interesting stuff.


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