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Failing Forward: The Path to Innovation

I recently had the opportunity to attend the Michigan Council of Women in Technology's Executive Connection Summit. I was expecting to hear a lot about artificial intelligence and machine learning, computer programming and the like, but was surprised (and delighted) in discovering a different common thread throughout the conference – human behavior.

One of the keynote speakers, Tamara Kleinberg, is the creator of the Innovation Quotient Edge (IQE) Assessment tool, which motivates audiences to tap their personal strengths to bring innovation into daily activities. She spoke about open-mindedness and marketplace disruption, and “acting to think” instead of the reverse. The takeaway? Don’t be afraid to fail.

The “f word” – failure – is feared by many. It routinely holds us back from asking earnest questions, sharing honest opinions and trying new things in the name of innovation. If you “act to think,” you get a real understanding of whatever it is that you're trying. Is it working? Not so much? Maybe some parts work while others fall short, but there’s no way to truly know until you try. If we don't try because we’re afraid to fail, the process of innovation deflates into a flat buzz word.

Based on twenty years of experience and research, the IQE Assessment identifies people’s natural innovative strengths through Innovator Archetypes, comprised of two Power Triggers which reflect the times when you feel naturally energized and “in the zone,” with minimized mental resistance.

There are nine triggers that make up the spectrum of the Innovation Quotient Edge Assessment: collaborative, experiential, fluid, futuristic, imaginative, inquisitive, instinctual, risk taker, tweaker. Learning that my Power Triggers are collaborative and inquisitive, comprised of intensity, curiosity, magnetism and inclusivity, has allowed me to gain an objective perspective of my peak performance.

The nature of working with other humans can be challenging. We all have diverse backgrounds, different communication styles and various ways of learning. Understanding your own unique organizational thumbprint can help you collaborate more effectively and work more efficiently as an individual contributor.

If you’re curious about learning more, visit

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