The dark side of Innovator DNA

Our data shows that 18% of BOSI Assessment takers show Innovator “I” as their Primary DNA.

It’s wired into these individuals to be mad scientists. Highly creative people who care much more about changing the world than making a ton of money.

They tend to be fairly introverted, overly trusting and make horrible business operators.

Yes. I said it. Horrible business operators.

Here’s why…

What drives Innovator behavior is a desire to change the world with their product/service. No sooner do they have the epiphany of the discovery – than they activate this behavioral preset. Once active, this DNA measures success based on the impact a product/service is having on the marketplace.

Picture a chef with high Innovator DNA watching with baited breath as patrons take their first bite into his latest creation. Picture an inventor listening to a customer in tears describe how the invention has changed their life. Most creatives have this DNA in Primary or Secondary form. When I study founders of most social entrepreneurship ventures and non profits, Innovator is the primary behavioral profile.

What all these individuals have in common is a burning desire for their creation to result in people saying – “That made a huge difference in my life”.

But when that desire drives decisions inside a business – bad things can happen.

Enter the dark side of Innovator DNA.

When changing the world is what it’s all about…

– Revenue and profits take a back seat. Product development and “changing lives” becomes the focus
– Finances are funneled to make product better (or change lives) – not necessarily to build a sustainable or scalable venture
– People are hired (and roles assigned) based on their passion/excitement for the mission – not necessarily their business acumen or capacity
– Sound business strategy takes a back seat to what feels good/right

It’s not uncommon for an Innovator to have a massive vision – but struggle to make that vision a reality.

See, it’s about the mission to change the world – not the mission to build a profitable, scalable and sustainable business. It’s about R&D not distribution. It’s about happy people, not shareholder value.

The dark side of Innovator DNA kicks in when an entrepreneur with this Primary DNA steps into the role of CEO of their company – and holds onto the steering wheel with a kung-fu death grip. They make decisions that foster harmony, impact and innovation – decisions that often conflict with what the business really needs.

So what’s the fix?

– Every Innovator MUST (at least) have a business advisor/mentor with Builder DNA – and DO what they are advised to do. An Innovator who tells a Builder “how it should be” when it comes to running a business is the equivalent of your 4 year old telling you what they should eat for dinner every night.
– The Innovator should step out of the role of CEO and have someone with Builder (or Specialist-Builder) DNA run the organization (especially finance, strategy and team).
– The Innovator should be responsible for product development, brand, messaging and brand evangelism. Every minute spent outside those key roles is counter-productive.

Take it from me, an “I” who has gladly handed off the reins of my company to someone better equipped to run it. Your mission is safer in their hands than your own. Your vision is more likely to become a reality with you out of the CEO role. Your customer is more likely to be reached and impacted than doing it the old-school way.

And after all, isn’t that what you’re in this for? Impact? Changed Lives?

Then do what is best for your organization – and step out of your weakness – into your strength.

You’ll be glad you did!