Are You an Innovator or an Implementer?

By Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D.

[dropcaps type=”circle” color=”” background=””]I[/dropcaps]nnovation is necessary to solve problems, create new products and services, to use our time more effectively and most importantly, to grow. We often confuse creative ability with artistic ability. We believe truly creative people are those we see on the big screen, singers on the radio, or those on stage. This is a serious misconception.

litebulb treeWe each have creative ability. Have you enjoyed the experience of witnessing an auto mechanic who makes your car sing? Or the surgeon who operates with the intuitive ability of a Michelangelo? We have the ability to take our work, our companies and lift them to new levels, those of an art form. We have all seen the most creative geniuses as work – they are creative investors, marketing gurus, R & D specialist; have you ever needed an extremely creative accountant?

Creativity involves the ability of our brain to change, renew and recombine aspects of our lives. Creativity involves using our sixth sense, or intuition, to perceive the world and make use of our discoveries.

We are often afraid to try new ideas, as we develop attitudes about creativity that can keep us stuck in our world of safety. Attitudes like: It’s not important. I don’t have time. I already have the answer. I’m not creative. These cause us to miss opportunities that we find in an ever -changing world. When we become stuck, we run the risk of being quickly left behind.

What are we to do if we are not naturally gifted with creativity and intuitive ability? I believe that intuition comes from a part of the mind that brings ideas to consciousness. When we are in touch with our intuition, we are given a gift in being able to sense trends, danger and potential problems. It’s an unspoken dialogue within ourselves that serves us well, when we learn to trust it. Most of us have had the experience of “not listening to our gut”. We would have been better off if we had. Intuition points us in the direction we need to follow. Our intuition takes place when we are in touch with ourselves, we know it is working when things make sense all of a sudden – memories, fantasies and the sixth sense we pick up from other people.

The issue with creativity is not always knowing the right answers, but knowing the right questions. As a leader, it is not our job to have the answers. It is our job to question the answers. This is tough for most entrepreneurs to accept. Because of our personalities we rarely display the patience to coach our people. It is far easier and quicker to give them the answers.

The Goldsmith Innovation/Implementation Index (G3I) determines how innovative we are and how well we implement. The personalities with the strongest levels of creativity are often those who are inflexible and do not deal with others very well. Ludwig von Beethoven, Thomas Edison and Winston Churchill are all examples of those who have tremendous creativity; just don’t expect them to be warm, friendly, accommodating and cooperative. Creative people have a vision in mind, their difficulty is expressing it to others. They frustrate themselves, as well as others, with their inability to effectively communicate. If you would like to find out if you are an “Innovator” or an “Implementer,” the G3I is available for free on my website at: to litebulb

The advantages and disadvantages of both “Innovators” and “Implementers” are equally weighted. Each is capable of running a business and creating wealth, but those with higher scores tend to be less able to work for someone else. What we have seen with the 10,000 business owners who have taken this survey is that those with higher scores tend to be in start up and riskier businesses or investments. Those with lower scores tend to be in second and third generation family businesses and are more conservative investors. The entrepreneur tends to be more innovative than a corporate CEO, these results could be a predisposition (nature) or a result of personal experiences (nurture). The ability to learn and apply new thinking is more of an innovative process while the ability to learn and apply new tasks is more of an “Implementer.” High “Innovators” tend to have more disadvantages and advantages than high “Implementers” do — this means that “Innovators” have a more complex personality than “Implementers” do, they tend to have more traits, both better and worse. Other notable differences are that “Implementers” have the ability to attend to detail in ways that “Innovators” sometimes find impossible. Also the incidence of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) is much higher in “Innovators” than “Implementers”, at a ratio of eight to one. This sub group also tended to be the most successful Entrepreneurs, as most had two or more income streams or businesses. The “Innovators” also confessed to being C/B students, where the “Implementers” were B/A students, most likely because of their ability to deal with detail.

Here are some tips for greater innovation:

  1. Get in touch with your intuition. What does your inner voice say about the situation? Rather than dealing with a situation strictly from an objective standpoint, stop and try to listen to your gut feeling.
  2. Try something new. Open yourself to new ideas by looking at the situation from someone else’s point of view (ie: your client, Walt Disney, Einstein, etc.), “How would they improve this?” “What would they do to ‘tweak’ it?”
  3. Find new avenues for creativity. Do something totally outside of your box. Make a commitment to try something new once a week, once a month or even once a season.
  4. Allow yourself to make a mistake. Not an easy thing to do, but give yourself the freedom to mess something up. The reason most of us become successful is because we’ve made lots of mistakes. In my business people don’t get fired for failing, they get fired for not trying.
  5. You don’t always need to know all the answers, so give yourself a break from such high standards. Find some Masterminds (people who know more than you do) and ask them some questions. Don’t waste time trying to reinvent the wheel.
  6. Be curious about things. Train yourself to ask open-ended questions rather than giving answers. If you really want a creative answer… ask a child.

Finally, a thought from Dana Borowka, CEO of Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC (, that hiring the right people is key to innovation and future growth. If you would like additional information on raising the hiring bar, please click here to see an article on this subject.

We hope you have fun with this article and taking the Goldsmith Innovation /Implementation Index (G3I) to discover your own creativity and internal resources.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2014

For more than two decades Fortune 500 companies, educational institutions, and government organizations worldwide have relied on Dr. Barton Goldsmith to help them develop creative and balanced leadership. He is a highly sought-after keynote speaker, business consultant and author. Since 2002, his weekly column, Emotional Fitness, which is syndicated by Scripps Howard News Service, and has been featured in over 200 newspapers. He is also currently writing a weekly blog for Psychology Today. Dr. Goldsmith has published Emotional Fitness at Work – 6 Strategic Steps to Success Using the Power of Emotion, the third in the Emotional Fitness book series and his most recent book, 100 Ways to Boost Your Self-Confidence – Believe in Yourself and Others Will Too. Dr. Goldsmith also hosts a weekly radio show on KCLU/NPR, with nearly 90,000 listeners in Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara. He has been interviewed on numerous TV/radio shows and for many publications. He can be contacted through his website at: or at (866) 5-BARTON.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, & our website:

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development, team building, interpersonal & communication training, career guidance & transition, conflict management, 360s, workshops, and executive & employee coaching. Other areas of expertise: Executive on boarding for success, leadership training for the 21st century, exploring global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training and operational productivity improvement. To order the books, Cracking the Personality Code and Cracking the Business Code please go to