a Psychologist!

There are 6 Innovation Archetypes, and
you are the Psychologist.

25% of all innovators think like you.

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Who are the Psychologists?

Zone of Genius: Empathy

By smashing the traditional perspective of a highly rational approach to solving problems, Psychologists understand unstructured innovation. You explore perceptions of an idea from every direction. This is where empathy in business comes into play. What’s it like to be the customer of your idea?

What are all the dynamics in how this idea will ultimately play out? What are the emotional ramifications of this innovation? Psychologists understand the evolving role of trust not just in innovation but in business today.

Plato once said that your archetype
describes “your ideal self.”

Your role in the bigger picture:

You’re rock-steady, Psychologist! Of the thousands of people who have taken the Innovation Assessment, only 25% rank as this archetype.

You’ll find success in roles and job functions that align with who you are as a person, or your archetype. You may earn accomplishments in roles that aren’t natural for you, but the struggle between your true self and how you’re expected to show up every day exhausts you over time. The likelihood that you’ll experience burn out and conflict increases dramatically. That is, unless you understand and learn how to manage the balance between what you bring to the world as an innovative thinker and what the world expects of you.

When you soar

Psychologists bring the soft side to innovation. You intuitively see connections that others miss because you’re tuned into how ideas make people feel and the emotional impact they have on someone. You may be the most fit of any of the archetypes because of all the time you’ve spent walking in other people’s shoes.

When you struggle

Because you can wear your heart on your sleeve, there’s days when you get too hung up on how ideas make others feel. You may struggle with keeping the bigger picture of innovation front and center because of the people involved, and you’ll get mired down in politics. The phrase you hate to hear the most? It’s not personal, it’s business.

How you interact with the other Innovation Archetypes:

Not every innovator looks the same, nor should they. Each has their own ideal self. Understanding your strengths helps bring out your best in your own work. It affects how you contribute on a team and how you interact with others in your organization. It also affects how well you perform in any role you’re in or job title you have.

Along with you, the following five innovation archetypes make up the most successful teams in the most innovative companies, regardless of size, industry or location. As you read through them, do you identify with just one of them? Or do you see yourself in several? Some people report that they’re a little bit of all of them; does that sound like you? While more than one may feel relatable, the truth is that it comes from having practiced functioning in the mindset of these different types of innovators. The more fluent you are in understanding the different archetypes, how you support their work and vice versa, the easier it will be to identify opportunities to fill in the gaps when situations need it.

Think about each of the Zones of Genius and how they may relate to how you naturally think. This will help you see how the teams you’re on might be set up, where and how you naturally contribute or struggle and why.

Culture Shaper

Zone of Genius: Communicate change
As a Culture Shaper, this innovator architects the brand and oversees how it’s being expressed. They sculpt the image and perception of innovation and articulate the range of knowledge that its people share.

When you’re in harmony

  • You both get to the heart and soul of innovation and what it means to people, the most often overlooked part of the work that’s done.
  • Understanding the importance of story in bringing people along turns this duo into powerful visionaries who help people see what the possibilities of tomorrow look like.

When you’re in conflict

  • Psychologists can be overly sensitive about change to start with. Add to that your potential to overthink things for the sake of those affected, and you can become a barrier to making progress.
  • Not everyone’s comfortable with new ideas. Head butting happens when Psychologists get overly sensitive to rocking the boat and Culture Shapers are simply trying to do their job.


Zone of Genius: Lead fearlessly
Orchestrators choreograph the process to keep things humming. They know how to maneuver the political stepping-stones in every corner of the business. Orchestrators also drive relationships and the reputation of innovation within their organization.

When you’re in harmony

  • Together, you understand that no great idea comes to fruition without bringing people along for the ride. This partnership ensures that everyone believes they’re an innovator.
  • Your joint focus on the human side of the customer, employees and business in general means you deliver a truly integrated innovation experience.

When you’re in conflict

  • An Orchestrator’s fearless leadership can come across as insensitive to the empathetic Psychologist.
  • Psychologists can get turned off by the crisp, decisive nature of Orchestrators, and feel that there’s more manipulation taking place than consensus building.


Zone of Genius: Integration
Ideas can’t go anywhere by themselves. Collaborators love to get involved with some or all of the process, help improve ideas and then champion them. Collaborators care less about getting personal credit and more about building bonds, so ideas have a greater chance of success.

When you’re in harmony

  • What do you get when you blend two people who care about people and integration? Pure magic!
  • The nature of both Psychologists and Collaborators is on other people, supporting them, and helping them develop and deliver their best work.

When you’re in conflict

  • Collaborators realize that successful integration often requires processes and technology. When they get too hung up on that, they can forget about the third leg of the stool – people.
  • Psychologists can feel Collaborators are out of touch when the latter gets too focused on the idea itself and their desire to keep moving it forward.


Zone of Genius: Challenging the status quo
These nonconformist thinkers question long-held assumptions and generate highly original ideas. Their ability to push past the obvious makes them sustainable and prolific idea generators.

When you’re in harmony

  • You both understand the power in getting people to believe in something big and that they can be a part of making it happen.
  • Provocateurs and Psychologists both know that before any idea can go anywhere, you have to get people excited about the idea, engaged in the team and believing in the company.

When you’re in conflict

  • When Provocateurs start getting vocal about changing the way things have always been done, Psychologists feel too much tension for their comfort.
  • The Provocateurs who push too hard too fast and too often cause concern for Psychologists, who fear the overall culture can’t keep pace.


Zone of Genius: Strategy and planning
Strategists love to create the blueprint and get things done. They have an eye for priorities and how things should be executed in order to show results. They like to teach others to do the same, and people identify Strategists as the “go-to” people for launching new ideas and bringing them to fruition.

When you’re in harmony

  • You both know that having a clearly defined path and plan to make it happen gives people comfort in knowing what’s expected of them every day.
  • Having a common North Star toward which to work unifies teams and reduces conflicts about priorities and responsibilities.

When you’re in conflict

  • A Psychologist’s focus on the softer side of innovation can directly clash with a Strategist’s get ‘er done attitude.
  • While the Strategist pays close attention to delivering value, they can forget that it’s the people who make it happen.



We’ll start by having your whole team take the Innovation Archetype Assessment. Then, we’ll benchmark your team against your performance goals, showing you how to increase alignment, improve effectiveness, spark passion and confidence, empower people to draw on the strengths of their archetype, and build deeper trust, commitment and confidence.

The ultimate outcome is a team that enjoys working together, appreciates each other’s diverse experiences and insights, and consistently delivers highly innovative and effective results.


What can you learn from the world’s most prolific innovators?

The most successful idea people know that it’s not a title that brings big outcomes, it’s consistently following a repeatable, scalable process. One that can be taught, learned and consistently practiced.

Learn more about our keynotesbooks and research and advisory services. We’ll show you how to connect individual skills with innovation to the overall performance of your organization.

Carla Johnson Innovation Creativity Speaker Author


We’ve worked with startups, Fortune 100 companies and every size in between. We help executives and leaders understand their starting points, design their innovation journey, and deliver the research, training and advice to help them make innovation a mindset. You’ll learn the impact that a broader innovation practice has on business and the path to creating and sustaining a culture that welcomes new ideas, encourages experimentation and rewards critical thinking.

This is how companies of all sizes become genuinely nimble, passionate, innovative powerhouses that deliver extraordinary outcomes in any industry and under any market condition.

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