Are you a creator, a mobiliser or just a lazy polymath?

Jack Blog

March 5th, 2014 By Jack Morton

I came across this article “Free iPhone app uses visual recognition technology and crowdsourcing to find similar products for sale online” on the front page of The Guardian website today.

Now, I distinctly remember being sat in a bar with a colleague of mine 3 years ago and saying something along the lines of, “wouldn’t it be cool to build an app that uses visual recognition technology and crowdsourcing to find similar products for sale online”. 

Now, I didn’t read that article today and suddenly think that someone in that bar must have overheard me, stole this ‘genius’ idea, managed to secure VC funding and then has spent the last 3 years in a garage on the outskirts of silicon valley coding away to make it into a reality and in doing so has potentially re-imagined the future of mobile commerce. But I did wonder, “why the hell didn’t I do it?”.

Then I realised it’s because I’m a Creator not a Mobiliser. You see, according to Idris Mootee there are 4 key stages to successful innovation in design thinking* and these stages all require a very different type of personality. He states the following:

Create > Mobilise > Refine > Execute.

1. Create

Everything starts with an idea, and there is no question that every organization needs new ideas to remain competitive in a rapidly changing world. There are people who can come up with ideas without really working at them; they see possibilities everywhere. There are also others who, by looking at data and making sense of even disparate data, come up with new ideas. Creating is more than being creative. It’s about seeing beyond, about seeing the possibilities. 

2. Mobilise

Many great ideas have died on the vine because they weren’t picked up or never gathered enough momentum to push them forward. Perhaps the person championing the idea couldn’t convince others. On the other hand, some people are good at making things happen; they have developed the ability to sell others on an idea and to get their support for the idea’s implementation. They tell great stories and understand organizational dynamics. They can mobilize.

3. Refine

Refiners often play the devil’s advocate role, asking the challenging “What if?” questions. Refiners’ talents for analysis and attention to detail are often undervalued because they tend to challenge both the Creator and Mobilizer. But those responsible for developing an innovation further should beware: Don’t implement a new idea until you have listened to what the Refiners have to say.

4. Execute

The dustbin of business history is filled with great ideas – but they’re in the dustbin because they were poorly executed. Whether it was due to a lack of follow through or a lack of team cohesion, the execution failed – and execution is important because it is the difference between being successful and not. Individuals must execute – on their assigned roles, and the team must execute by bringing the innovation to market exactly as planned. In the end it’s all in the execution.

*SOURCE: Idris Mootee, Idea Couture.

So next time you see that great idea that you never did anything about being heralded as the latest, greatest innovation, now you know why. It’s because you just don’t have all the right attributes to see the idea through to the bitter end. You’re just too busy creating to be executing and mobilising. Or then again you might just be a lazy polymath, in which case there’s no hope.