In innovation, we face new challenges in two ways: as an explorer or as a settler. These are their characteristics.
In “The Ten Faces of Innovation“, Tom Kelley introduced ten roles needed to generate innovation in enterprises. Without attempting to create an alternative classification, I think there are two major roles, which encompass the others: the explorer and the settler.
The explorer is the one who embarks on the adventure, seeking new territories, new resources so that others can thrive and grow. They enjoy challenges, the unexplored fields, always attentive to new opportunities. They see gold where others only see rocks.
Once a new territory is discovered, they inspect it to check that it really could offer something valuable, if it really is a place where others could settle. They analyze the characteristics of the area and plan how resources should be exploited.
When they are sure that this new place is valuable and could be stable and suitable for other people, they prepare the territory for the arrival of the settlers, so that the first days won’t be too difficult for them.
Finally, they call the settlers, hosting them, explaining the characteristics of the area and what they could do there. They stay with them for a few days, and when the settlers have adapted well and can continue alone, they leave in search of new adventures.
The settler is the one who knows how to extract, use, and make grow wealth from new territories. They deal with the management of resources in the long term.
They are tenacious and fighters and will do their best to make the most of the territory. They know how to organize their people so that resources will be shared equally and everyone can flourish and benefit.
The colonizer also faces new challenges: to prevent depletion of resources, improve people’s lives every day, overcome setbacks, manage the relationship between the different people and, of course, expand the territory.
Two complementary roles
Although these two roles don’t exist in its purest form, I think we all identify with one of them. Possibly, depending on the context, we approach more to one of these two roles. Companies need both.