The Ten Faces of Innovation

Vikas Joshi
September 23, 2009

Tom Kelly, the author of The Art of Innovation, has proposed ten personas that innovators could assume in an organization. The personas serve to demystify innovation, and provide a way for aspiring innovators to understand how they could contribute.

The Learning Personas

  1. The Anthropologist: Camps out with target users, observes them, understands how they interact with products
  2. The Experimenter: Prototypes ideas, thrives on trial-and-error, draws stakeholders in to test prototypes, embraces early failures
  3. The Cross-Pollinator: Explores other industries and cultures, translates the findings to your business

The Organizing Personas

  1. The Hurdler: Outsmarts and overcomes obstacles to innovation, knows which buttons to press
  2. The Collaborator: Brings selected people together, leads from the middle, helps create multidisciplinary solutions
  3. The Director: Gathers talented team and helps spark their creative talents

The Building Personas

  1. The Experience Architect: Designs whole customer experiences. Recognizes that value added comes from the quality of experience provided. Sets the stage for positive encounters with your organization thru products, services, digital interactions, spaces or events. See products as journeys to be mapped. Brings products nearer to the customer.
  2. The Set Designer: Creates right environment for innovation
  3. The Caregiver: Anticipates customer needs and delivers customer care beyond expectations
  4. The Storyteller: Builds internal morale and external awareness through compelling narratives

In an innovation workshop it is interesting to explain these personas to participants and have them wear a tag displaying the persona they have chosen for themselves for a session. The group then gets down to work on new ideas.

In a recent workshop we tried this, and realized that it is hard to assume a persona and maintain one's viewpoint accordingly for too long. People are just themselves.

Which suggests that people have strong natural inclination towards one or mabe a few of these roles and the whole team will do well to recognize that quickly so everyone can contribute the most in an innovation factory.