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The Key to Successful Innovation Is… Conformists?

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When you think of innovation — or, more specifically, the kinds of people who drive innovation — chances are you’re thinking of those outside-the-box types, creatives who challenge the rules, think on their own terms and buck the status quo.

And you’re partially right. But, according to a recent article by Ella Miron-Spektor on Harvard Business Review, you’re also partially wrong. While creative types are necessary for innovation, including conformists in your team may be necessary to make sure all those grand new ideas actually get done.

As Miron-Spektor writes:

We found that conformists, of all people, are the key to balancing the creatives. If you have the right proportion of conformists on an innovation team, they can dramatically increase its output of radical innovations – not just ideas, but workable products.

Creative people’s tendency to generate conflict and their dislike of rules may hinder team performance. Conformists, by contrast, diminish conflict, follow the rules, and contribute to their group’s confidence and cohesion.

You can read the full article here.

What’s your reaction to this article? Can you see the case for conformists?

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  • nancy

    Absolutely! Conformists are necessary to keep the creatives’ feet on the ground; they can serve to provide the downside so that all major obstacles are overcome before launch, rather than after.