Tag Archives: Anke Domscheit-Berg

Adaptors vs. Innovators: Kirton Inventory as Gov 2.0 Predictor?

Anke Domscheit-Berg ignited a gender fire storm yesterday with her GovLoop blogpost: “Why do women understand government 2.0 and social media better than men?”

My good buddy and LAUNCH: Health teammate, Todd Khozein, sent me an email yesterday with the link. I read the post and left a comment, then tweeted out the link. I received these comments back:

@edwardvirtually tweet about gender differences

@califgirl232 tweet about women and Gov 2.0

@genejm29 tweet

@edwardvirtually tweet

Interesting conversation about whether women are better suited to embrace Gov 2.0 tools. Personally, I love social media tools, but I work with women who don’t. I’ve learned a great deal about Gov 2.0 from incredibly gifted progressive guys at NASA, but watched many more snub their noses at it. I think it goes both ways.

Though gender may give insight into how men and women approach situations differently, we may find a less contentious Gov 2.0 cheerleader-meter.

The Kirton Adaptation-Innovation Inventory may just be the PERFECT tool to flush out change agents.

The Kirton Inventory measures problem-solving and creativity in individuals and helps teams understand the different ways they approach solutions. I first learned of the Kirton Inventory back in the 1990s when I planned an off-site retreat for the Office of Policy and Plans (better known as the Land of MisFit Toys) led by Lori Garver. We brought in a facilitator who tested us, then walked us through how our Kirton scores would help Lori make smart team assignments.

The Kirton Inventory scores individuals on a continuum from Adaptors to Innovators. The Adaptors work best within the existing system, seeing change as a matter of  tweaking and perfecting what already exists. The Innovators embrace all things new and adapt quickly to change.

Kirton Inventory: Characteristics of Adaptors & Innovators

Characteristics of Adaptors & Innovators. Credit: "Chemical Innovation" Nov 2001

At the extreme ends of either side of the spectrum, the Adaptors find comfort in the status quo where the Innovators prefer tossing out the old and starting fresh. Neither side can speak the language of the other, and need translators — who are the individuals who scored somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. These individuals are called the “Bridge” because they can speak both languages: status quo and change.

Our facilitator advised that every team needed at least one Bridge to keep the process moving, otherwise miscommunication and misunderstandings could impede progress.

alienMy Kirton Inventory scores qualified me as an extreme innovator. Surprised? 😉 Most of my workmates scored on the opposite end of the spectrum as Adaptors, and some as extreme Adaptors. I began to understand for the first time why I felt like an alien at NASA. My Innovator-DNA hadn’t equipped me to relate, understand, or communicate with “the Adaptors.”

According to an article about the Kirton Inventory Tool in “Chemical Innovation: Can corporate innovation champions survive?” Nov 2001…

Extreme Innovators describe Extreme Adaptors as:

  • dogmatic,
  • compliant,
  • stuck in a rut,
  • timid,
  • conforming, and
  • inflexible.

Extreme Adaptors describe Extreme Innovators as:

  • Unsound
  • impractical,
  • abrasive,
  • undisciplined
  • insensitive,
  • one who loves to create confusion.

I’ve heard many of these words used to describe me — abrasive, impractical, chaos-creator. Yep, the story of my 25 years at NASA.

Back to the original question: Does an affinity for change (think Gov 2.0) have anything to do with gender, as described in Anke’s thought-provoking blogpost? Are Innovators or Adaptors pushed to the extremes through influences or factors linked to DNA, socialization, gender, or experiences? The Kirton Inventory doesn’t address the causes behind the scores, so I can’t answer the question. I can only offer another data point for the discussion.

I have an idea! Why don’t you take the Kirton test yourself? See if you’re an Adaptor or Innovator. Let me know what you find out.

But if you’re an Adaptor, remember to bring your translator with you. Otherwise, I might not understand a word you say.

Crosspost on GovLoop.

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