When it comes to innovation, do you see problems or possibilities?
When Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezo announced that his company was considering using unmanned aircraft – drones – to deliver packages to customers in 30 minutes or less, it ignited a storm of controversy. Critics were quick to point out how impractical the idea was. You can watch Amazon’s video about the service here:
I believe the Amazon controversy shows that, when it comes to innovation, the world is split into two types of personalities. I refer to these as the 2 P's.
The first P stands for 'Possibilities'; these are people who hear of an innovative idea and think 'Wow! Look at all the possibilities'.
The other P stands for 'Problems'; these are people who in the same situation will think 'Whoa! Look at all of the problems'.
Are you a 'Possibility P' or a 'Problem P'?
Don’t get me wrong, both of these personality types are important to innovation. If the world had only Possibility P's we'd have loads of forward thinking ideas that might not have been practically thought out yet. But if the world had only 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 whereas Possibility P's seem scared to stay the same for more than 10 minutes. 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 a detailed risk assessment - and there may be a multitude of things that could go wrong - they will keep it to themselves.
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 two.
Imagine two groups trying to come up with an innovation for 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 all have the device implanted in our heads and just have to think of a contact to dial them. In principal, this is a very forward thinking idea. However, in practice, it may not work and could have a whole host of health and privacy issues.
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 and increased functionality. This is a very practical and logical idea but it isn't going to make any waves.
Imagine a group with equal numbers of the two P's. Together they might create the iPhone.
Sometimes the two P's will lock horns. Problem P's think the other guys are illogical 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.
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 use while 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, so what type 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!