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“We need to spend more time to ensure we are asking the right question, instead of trying to answer a question that is merely about the symptoms and ignores the underlying causes.”
– Bettina von Stamm, Catalyst & Founder, Innovation Leadership Forum

Belbin Team Roles

A tool for improving team composition and hence performance, some implication for innovation as people with certain team roles are more likely to be ‘innovative’ as opposed to ‘adaptive’ – see also KAI and CARE

Dr Meredith Belbin and his colleagues developed his tool specifically to help organisations to compose better teams.  They found that in a ‘perfect team’ eight different roles are represented, whereby one person can hold more than one role, i.e. a team does not necessarily have to have eight members.  The test they have developed is based on four principal factors,

  1. Intelligence,
  2. Dominance,
  3. Extroversion/introversion,
  4. Stability/anxiety.



Developed by Al Fahden, available through it has been set up to help companies out together teams that are good at both coming up with ideas and improving them and driving ideas through to implementation; builds on people’s strength and preferences;

Builds on the KAI; primarily it is necessary to put teams together based on the expertise they bring to the project, the instrument can then be used to see whether both creativity and implementation skills are available to the group.


Innovation Potential Indicator

Developed by Dr Fiona Patterson, building on her PhD thesis the tool assessing 4 behaviours that are associated with innovation at the level of theindividual

The potential rather than actual performance is measured, built on academic research.


Innovation Wave

Tool for the assessment and development of innovation capability, can be applied at the team or organisational level.
Developed by Dr Bettina von Stamm, Innovation Exchange, it builds around 5 areas key to organisational innovation: strategy & vision, leadership style, processes, culture, the physical work environment; based on innovation best practice as identified through collaboration with members of the Innovation Exchange and best practice insights available from the literature.



While primarily an assessment tool for the individual, it is very useful in balancing at the team or organisational level

Developed by Michael Kirton the questionnaire assesses an individual’s style of problem solving and creativity and preference for either adapting or innovating; a company needs both types of individuals.



As it ways on the website, “The KN3W IDEAS process helps organisations not only to think differently, but to think together to pick the right ideas earlier in the innovation process so that valuable resources are not wasted working on the wrong ideas. KN3W IDEAS combines the best elements across a wide variety of innovation theory and techniques into one easy to use process, all driven through a set of patent-pending templates and tools.”

The tools were developed by Joh  Gerrie who has left consumer goods company Reckitt Beckiser in 2005; he describes the tools as follows,

KN3W IDEAS is a unique new problem-led systematic approach to idea generation / front-end of innovation and is based on the Theory of Inventive Problem-Solving, otherwise known as TRIZ.

In my Reckitt Benckiser role we conducted a study of over 3000 NPD ideas to help understand the business’ ideation effectiveness. To my surprise I found that about half of all the NPD projects we worked on failed in the final Base2 test, not because the product was wrong, but because the original idea was flawed in the first place.

And the reason. All too often the idea was the result of a brainstorming session, and the linkage to the underlying customer / consumer need or problem has been lost, and the team involved had jumped to conclusions, or trying to solve a business problems that was irrelevant. But, also too often the idea was not the result of the whole teams thinking, but one or two people pushing a favourite idea, or an idea they thought their boss or boss’ boss would like.

KN3W IDEAS is a systematic way of identifying the right problems to solve in a business – one that is both relevant to the business AND relevant to the customer /consumer, and then solving that problem systematically with the right ideas using a collaborative technique where you get the people who know the most about the business not only to think differently, but think together.



The MBTI, developed by Isabel Myers and Katharine Briggs in the 1950’s, was designed to facilitate the understanding of psychological types as described by psychologist Carl Jung.  The MBTI identifies four individual preferences,

  • Extroverts versus introverts (E vs I)
  • Sensers versus intuitives (S vs N)
  • Thinkers versus feelers (T vs F)
  • Judgers versus perceivers (J vs P)

The main benefit is that people understand each others differences, and preferences, and understand that there is not a right or wrong, just a different.


South Beach

We talk a lot about the need for a shared language around innovation quite a lot, and we do talk about the benefits of visualising things to create a shared understanding and vision, and be more successful at creating buy-in.

Southbeach is a tool that supports multi-disciplinary innovation projects using a consistent visual notation, style and methodology that everyone could buy into just as easily as they use a flip chart; it brings those diagram to live, by linking situation specific models to generic innovation and problem solving knowledge, automatically generating ‘directions’ to guide an innovation project.

The good news is that you can download it and explore it for free.

When I was first introduced to the software what came to mind was that this was a useful combination of mind-mapping and systems-modelling software with the spirit of TRIZ thrown in.

The software, examples, applications and further information can be viewed and downloaded from:



Developed by Genrich Altshuller in 1946; It is derived from studying the best solutions to problems including millions of successful designs and patents to distil from them the secrets of innovation.

TRIZ research began with the hypothesis that there are universal principles of invention that are the basis for creative innovations that advance technology, and that if these principles could be identified and codified, they could be taught to people to make the process of invention more predictable. The research has proceeded in several stages over the last 50 years. Over 2 million patents have been examined, classified by level of inventiveness, and analyzed to look for principles of innovation. The three primary findings of this research are as follows:

Problems and solutions were repeated across industries and sciences

Patterns of technical evolution were repeated across industries and sciences

Innovations used scientific effects outside the field where they were developed

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Do you have any questions or thoughts in the context of innovation then please get in touch!

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