Terrible Innovator No. 4: The Lone Ranger

The following is a brief excerpt from Innovation and the Future Proof Bank, my text on corporate innovation. I identify six archetypes you should watch out for, and the fourth is “The Lone Ranger”.  From Chapter 9:

Another kind of poor innovation performer is the Lone Ranger. Lone Rangers are innovators who prefer to work alone. They like to have everything under their personal control, cannot bear to delegate any work to anyone, and need to be personally involved in every single, little detail of their innovations.

They imagine they, and they alone, are all it will take to get an innovation out the door. They engage in individual heroics to make try to move things along, but usually fail to deliver much because almost all innovations require a team of people to actually get things to happen.

The problem here is one of output. People tend to have definite preference for innovation styles. There are Creators, who come up with the new ideas. Perfectors, who go through each idea making sure it can actually be implemented before much work is done. Embellishers, who are great at selling ideas and getting people excited. And, most importantly, Implementors, who know what to do to make things happen.

The thing is, most people don’t have all four innovation styles, and are, at best, a great synergy of two. The Lone Ranger, of course, is no different to the rest of us, and is unlikely to have all four in equal measure.

Consequently, when they try to make things happen in isolation, they usually fail.

Naturally, this is never the fault of the Lone Ranger and his or her lack of teaming. There will always be an excuse for the lack of real output. “We aren’t innovative”, or “the business case didn’t work” or, “no one was interested” are typical excuses. There will always be excuses, and the number you get depends on how many of the innovation preferences the Lone Ranger is missing.

Lone Rangers are ineffective at best, but completely destructive at worst. Because they don’t want to share, they render everyone who relies on their particular innovation preference unable to function as well.

I’ll post the remaining 2 archetypes before the Christmas break.

Previous terrible innovators:

Reprinted from Innovation and the Future Proof Bank, published by John Wiley & Sons. Copyright 2009.

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