The latest Amazon announcement and subsequent response articles got me thinking about human psychology and it's influence over innovation.
When it comes to innovation there are really only two types of personality. I refer to this as the 2 P's.
One P stands for 'Possibilities', they are people who when they hear or think of an innovative idea they think 'Wow! Think of all of the possibilities'.
The other P stands for 'Problems', they are the people who in the same situation will think 'Whoa! Think of all of the problems'.
You are either a 'Possibility P' or a 'Problem P'.
Both are important to have with innovation, if the world had all Possibility P's we'd have loads of forward thinking ideas that might not have been practically thought out yet. If the world had all Problem P's we'd have a lot of very tame yet well thought out ideas. Neither situation is ideal.
Each personality type has good points and bad points. Problem P's seem scared to move forward and try anything new where as Possibility P's seem scared to stay the same for more than 10 minuets. Possibility P's will air ideas that could change the world with the risk of embarrassment where as Problem P's may think up the same idea but because there has not been time for detailed risk assessment or logical deductive reasoning and there may be a multitude of things that could go wrong they will keep it to themselves. We all have the capacity to innovate but we have have different capacities of what we allow ourself to do with those ideas.
We all like to think we are a Possibility P but we aren't. The truth is that there is more Problem P's than Possibility P's out there. When looking at innovation it's best to have a good mix of the the two.
Imagine two groups trying to innovate the cell phone. Group one is made up of all Possibility P's and group two is made up of all Problem P's.
Group one may think up a revolutionary idea where we now all have the device implanted in our heads and we just have to think of a contact to dial them. In principal a very forward thinking innovative idea but in practice may not be practical for this day and age and may have a whole host of health and privacy issues attached.
Group two may come up with an idea about how to upgrade the components in a cell phone to make it run faster and more efficiently with less error risk and increased functionality. In it self a very practical well thought out logical idea but in the real life isn't going to make any waves.
Imagine a group with equal numbers of the two P's, together they might create the iPhone.
Some times the two P's will lock horns. Problem P's think the other guys are non logical people with their head so far in the clouds they can't see the detail any more. Possibility P's think the other guys are negative people who are just there to clip their wings and who aren't capable of creativity. In some extreme cases this is true. Some Possibility P's will come up with ideas so ludicrous that it's barley worth listening to their input and some Problem P's will disagree with everything and be a real ball and chain just for the sake of it or because they are unable to understand and nurture creative thinking.
The point of all of this is to recognise what type of people we are working with and embrace their talent whether it be divergent thinking or deductive reasoning.
Problem P's help the others get their ideas into practical application where as Possibility P's help the others express their inner innovator.
Possibility P's are helping the world evolve at the fastest pace in history and Problem P's are making sure this isn't causing chaos. Both are just as important as each other, what are you?
The next time you hear an innovative idea, check yourself, do you immediately think 'Wow! Think of all of the possibilities' or 'Whoa! Think of all of the problems'? No matter what the answer harness the power of your P, share it, embrace it and most importantly accept it.
- James Dodkins