Two Kinds of Innovators
Innovators come in two forms – hunters and gatherers. Are you a hunter or a gatherer innovator? Understanding this distinction is critical in your innovation efforts. It will make you a more self aware innovator. It will be critical for your innovation success.
Think of hunters and gatherers. What comes to your mind? When you think of a hunter, you visualize someone who is quick and strong. Someone who will seek a hunt far away on the horizon and will move quickly. Someone who will see minor differences in the landscape to search for a hunt. When you visualize a gatherer you see someone who is meticulous, slow, and deliberate. Someone who will stay within a smaller area and look closely at potential food in that area. Someone who will notice changes in the here and now rather than on the horizon. Who is more important? Both were important for human survival. Depending on the context, one may have been more important than the other at different times.
Similarly, hunter and gatherer innovators are different from each other. They notice different things. They connect dots at different levels and create different types of innovations. Above all, they find meaning in different types of innovations.
Hunter innovators have a panoramic view of the world and they see changes on the horizon. They see far into the future or across industries. They connect the dots at a broad level, between trends across consumers, technologies, and industries. They create new to the world products and sometimes create new industries.
Gatherer innovators have a deeper view of a much smaller area. They may understand and notice microscopic changes in the consumers or technology. They connect the dots at lower levels and often create innovations that unlock value or make business more profitable. They often create developmental innovations. Although hunters create major innovations, gatherers make these innovations profitable.