How to Make the Invisible Human Elements Visible By Bob Rosenfeld (Photos: Adobe Stock)
We’re each unique as humans, but the “elements” that make us who we are, remain exactly the same around the globe.
That’s my theory. And in practical application, we’re able to present proof of this theory with the Innovation Strengths Preference Indicator® (ISPI™) instrument. It has been used successfully with our clients around the world to identify the human elements and the mindsets of individuals. These clients are greatly interested in increasing their corporate innovation.
Diversity of mindsets is key to innovation and most any group process. The ISPI™ reveals this invisible element within people so you can assemble effective teams.
Why did We Create the ISPI?
In my first chemistry class at Drake University, I was enthralled by the periodic table of elements and its specificity in identifying the tiniest building blocks of just about all matter that we know. The table evolved from earth, fire, air, water, and spirit. People at that time believed that this was the composition of all things. How the elements are attracted to each other; how they repel each other; how when they come together, they blow up – some of them, anyway. Some are gaseous. Some of them are solids. Some of them dissolve in water, some don’t. You have a whole spectrum of elements that the periodic table is showing you.
Could this detailed table be applied to human psychology? I thought so. I even asked my psychology professor if there was a periodic table for people. He scoffed, “People are too complex!”
Yet, I couldn’t let it go.
Innovation at Kodak Needed Such a Periodic Table
Sometime later I founded Kodak’s Office of Innovation with the charge of stimulating continuous innovation from the grass roots. To build innovative teams, I was again reminded of the periodic table. Some people are pioneering (out of the box). Some people prefer to build on existing paradigms (Builders). Some of the builders are surprisingly visionary. And some of the pioneers can be surprisingly detail oriented. When you measure it, there are many degrees of mindsets across any group. Our ISPI manual sums it up:
Human beings are diverse, have different needs, and use different personality facets to meet those needs. Diversity can be a rich asset: a group, harnessing the different strengths of each person, can often solve complex problems better than a single individual. However, it can also be a liability—especially when it engenders conflict. A lack of appreciation of differences evokes the conflict-inducing side of diversity, leading to estrangement. Estrangement can, in turn, lead to alienation. Appreciation of diversity, however, leads to trust. Estrangement/alienation and trust play stronger roles in the potential funding of ideas than, in many cases, the ideas’ contents themselves. Essentially, people are influenced by people they trust and whom they perceive as able to deliver results—not just by a perceived "idea machine.” Understanding the nature of who is providing the funding for the idea enables one to build trust and secure funding.
So, like the elements, some people work well together, and some might explode because their approach is not valued, or they turn inert and stop working.
To get the right balance of people-elements for the Office of Innovation, we had to use a raft of instruments, including Myers Briggs Type Indicator, KAI, FIRO-B and others. It was time consuming and hard to understand.
My experience at Kodak taught me that business could benefit from one efficient instrument. A focused assessment was needed to speed up the process of organizing teams that could be more effective with more innovations.
Later, after I formed Idea Connection Systems, Inc.® (ICS) and working with my friend and colleague, the late Larry VanEtten, we developed the ISPI™. And even in that marketable innovation (creating the ISPI), diversity was key. Larry was the Builder who made my Pioneer idea become reality. Larry’s mindset brought the detail orientation to our process. Without that, the ISPI would have just stayed a good creative idea. That’s why Larry and I shared the patent of the instrument. It took both of our different skills and mindsets to make it happen.
A Quick Global Case Study
The ISPI was presented to the Ethical Business Building the Future (EBBF) at its conference in Barcelona in 2014. I expected a good response from the attendees as they were innovation practitioners, therapists, CEO’s, managers of sizable groups in their companies. However, one participant raised her hand wanting to take the ISPI to gain more information. I scanned the room and noticed that many others were leaning forward as if to ask the same question. She asked if the group of about 100 or so could take the assessment. I agreed on condition that we could meet to discuss the results in detail as a group after dinner. That evening when the assessments were completed (it only takes 15 to 20 minutes to do so), we met again and the woman who initiated the request asked an important question and for a show of hands. She wanted to know how many found the assessment accurate for them. They all found it accurate
“How do you do that? We’re from all over the world with different cultures and experiences.” She was a little incredulous.
I answered: By understanding that the invisible elements that make up a person are present across the globe. We’re one species. And as one species, you can go anywhere on the globe and raise a family. You can go anywhere on the globe and with the ISPI be able to understand another person who appears very different from you.
The ISPI has been translated into multiple languages, so as to make it possible to gain insights into others in a language comfortable for them. The ISPI makes one aware of the invisible human elements that make us all one!
A Tool for Mixing OR for Matching
In business, we use the ISPI to organize teams with a mixture of needed mindsets. You must do that if you want to get anything done. And in community work, we seek to pair very similar partners across racial and ethnic demographics to help eliminate the evils of racial polarization.
By getting at the individual mindsets of people – how they solve problems and how they get things done – you discover that two people who look very different on the outside can be very much the same inside. And sometimes two people who look very similar couldn’t be more different when it comes to their mindsets.
We’re all the same, which also means we’re all different.
In Summary These are Some of the Ways This Tool Has Been Used:
1. Creating teams that will give you the results you are looking for.
2. Enhancing existing teams to work well together to make good choices
3. Understanding the appreciation team members have for each other.
4. Visualizing a person’s hidden elements so they can be assigned appropriate projects if they work on a team or work alone.
5. Creating teams for the social betterment of the organization and or society (go to
Mosaic Partnerships on web).
6. Building better relationships between two people that leverage their strengths and foster unity.
7. Resolving conflicts.
How would you use it?