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The Innovation Factor: What's Your Innovation Quotient?

So you think you're inventive? Take our 20 question quiz and see how you rate.

Innovation: Part II

Are you innovative? Do you run your company in an innovative fashion? If you've read the first two special sections on innovation in Inc, then those are two questions you may have been asking yourself. The following quiz should help you find the answers. Some of the questions, we realize, will seem rangy and random. That's intentional. To design the quiz, we relied on a wide variety of information about innovative minds -- both in the business world and out of it. One source, for example, is a book called How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci, by Michael J. Gelb. Another is the Tom Peters opus The Circle of Innovation. So buckle up, gentle reader, and get ready: you'll be able to calculate your innovation quotient in a matter of minutes. And if you wind up displeased with your score, don't worry. True innovators often don't do well on standardized tests.

1. If I were in school today, I might be diagnosed with which one of the following:

a) attention deficit disorder
b) chronic fatigue syndrome
c) anger-management issues
d) separation anxiety

2. Which of the following can you honestly say is a true statement about yourself (check all that apply):

a) I know the color of all my friends' eyes
b) I am comfortable with ambiguity
c) I know what all the controls on my stereo system are for
d) I often adjust the controls on my stereo system and can tell the difference when I do

3. True or false:

a) In 1993 two executives from Rubbermaid toured an exhibit of Egyptian antiquities at the British Museum in London. They came away with 11 specific product ideas, including some derived from Pharoah's kitchen utensils.
b) A 3M employee came up with the idea for Post-it Notes after using bits of paper to mark the hymns he sang in his church choir.
c) The first woman known to become a millionaire for one of her inventions was an African American named Madame C.J. Walker. She created hair straightener for black women in 1905.
d) The actress Hedy Lamarr, an innovator of on-screen nudity (in the 1932 Czech film Ecstasy), received a patent in 1942 for helping to invent a radio-controlled torpedo.

4. Complete the following quote from management guru Tom Peters: "Leadership has been implicit in every page of this book. Now we get explicit: a deep and sustaining commitment to innovation means leader-as-dispenser-of-____________."

a) enthusiasm
b) solutions
c) Pez
d) creativity

5. In trying to hire an innovative employee, which of the following Japanese words describes the quality Sony looks for:

a) setsu (eager, earnest, ardent, kind, keen, acute)
b) seizen (orderly, regular, well-organized, trim, accurate)
c) netsuretsu (ardent, passionate, vehement)
d) neyaka (optimistic, open-minded, intellectually diverse)

6. If I wanted to learn about the anatomy of a frog, the first thing I would do is

a) go to the library
b) call a biology professor
c) check the Internet
d) catch and dissect one

7. When working on a project for a client, I rely on the perspective of at least _____ outsiders.

a) 0
b) 1
c) 2
d) 3

8. When asked to remember the most delightful aroma I've ever known, I

a) have to think for a minute or so
b) know instantly
c) consider who's asking
d) blush

9. Match the items in the left column with those in the right column:

a) burrs _____1. the tabs on aluminum cans
b) conch shells _____2. Velcro
c) bananas _____3. spiral staircases

10. Fill in the blank in this quote from management czar Peter Drucker: "Above all, the innovative company organizes itself to _______ the old, the obsolete, the no longer productive."

a) ignore
b) subsidize
c) abandon
d) compete against

11. If I were stranded in the desert, the question I'd be most likely to ask myself is:

a) How do I get to water?
b) How do I get water to come to me?
c) What is the meaning of (my) life?
d) How can I make (my) life more meaningful?

12. Every day you take a walk outdoors. You carry with you a notebook and pencil. After a month, your notebook is most likely to be filled with

a) thoughts and opinions
b) several "to-do" lists
c) drawings and doodles
d) phone numbers and E-mail addresses of people you meet

13. The graph (please refer to page 92 of a hard copy of Inc magazine) depicts what's typically known as an S-curve. The vertical axis measures the performance, in sales, of a particular product. The horizontal axis measures the investment and labor that your company puts into that product. At which point along the curve would you begin an effort on a next-generation product?

a) Point marked "1"
b) Point marked "2"
c) Point marked "3"
d) Point marked "4"

14. Below are four statements. Number each statement 1, 2, 3, or 4, depending on how true the statement is: "4" means the statement is absolutely true and "1" means the statement is absolutely false.

____a) I would just as soon steal a good idea as think of it myself. If it's a good idea, who cares about its source?
____b) My organization puts each and every process and product on trial for its life every 18 months to two years
____c) Employees at my organization openly share their ideas for improving our products and processes
____d) My organization has a process in place for actually implementing changes

15. At left is a sketch from one of Leonardo da Vinci's notebooks (please refer to page 92 of a hard copy of Inc magazine). Your first impression is:

a) They call this guy a genius?
b) I see lots of cats. Is that one in the middle a dragon?
c) My, what terrific use of chiaroscuro, that is, the interplay of dark and light for dramatic emphasis
d) All the animals are curved

16. Which of the following innovations was not initially rejected by the business world?

a) photocopying
b) the VCR
c) the original Star Wars movies
d) the built-in car seat for toddlers
e) Velcro

17. Below are four statements. Number each statement 1, 2, 3, or 4, depending on how true the statement is about you: "4" means the statement is generally true and "1" means the statement is generally false.

____a) In conversation, I frequently use the words "totally," "always," "must," "never," and "absolutely"
____b) I frequently end conversations with an unanswered question
____c) I frequently use the words "maybe," "perhaps," "depends," "sometimes," and "relatively"
____d) I frequently end conversations with a definitive statement

18. Below are four statements about you. Rank them in order from most true to least true, with "4" being the most true and "1" being the least true.

____a) I have recently changed a belief because of a practical experience
____b) Every once in a while, I find some truth in the whole zodiac/horoscope/astrology thing
____c) I learned a foreign language after the age of 22
____d) I jump to conclusions

19. "If you want the best things to happen in corporate life, you have to find ways to be hospitable to the unusual person. You don't get innovation as a democratic process." That is a quote from:

a) Max DePree, former CEO of Herman Miller Inc.
b) Martha Stewart, CEO of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc.
c) George Steinbrenner, controlling partner of YankeeNets Inc.
d) Judy George, CEO of Domain Inc.

20. "As a CEO, it's my job to make sure my organization places a high value on change and makes it part of the organization's culture with respect to product development." Coming from your lips, this statement could best be described as

a) humorous
b) patently false
c) what Plato, in The Republic, would call a "useful falsehood"
d) accurate, I hope

Answer Key

Compute your final score based on the answer key provided below. For a thorough explanation of each question and answer, and a full bibliography of sources, go to www.inc.com/IQ.

1. a -- 2 points
2. Give yourself 2 points for each statement that you checked off
3. All four statements are true. Give yourself 2 points for each correct answer
4. a -- 2 points
5. d -- 2 points
6. d -- 2 points
7. The more the merrier. Give yourself one point for each outsider whose perspective you sought
8. b -- 2 points
9. c1, a2, b3 -- one point for each correct answer
10. c -- 2 points
11. b -- 2 points
12. c -- 2 points
13. If you picked a -- give yourself 2 points; b -- 1 point; c -- 0 points; d -- subtract a point from your total
14. Add up the numbers you gave to each statement. Divide the total by two. That's how many points you get
15. d -- 2 points
16. b -- 2 points
17. Add up the two numbers you listed for b and c. Divide the total by two. That's how many points you get
18. What numbers did you assign to statements a and c? Add them together. Divide the total by two. That's how many points you get
19. a -- 2 points
20. d -- 2 points

Innovation impresario -- 29 points and up
Make no mistake about it -- innovation is your byword. Ideas attack you while you sleep. You keep a pad and paper by your bedside to record such nocturnal epiphanies. In science class, you abhorred textbooks, preferring to learn through experimentation. In the real world, you see a process, any process, and burn, burn, burn to improve it. Well, here's to you, innovation impresario: You make the world a better place.

Innovation intermediate -- 13-28 points
You lack the impassioned stargazing of the innovation impresario. But you're not exactly the eyes-on-the-road, hands-on-the-wheel type either. It's crossed your mind, every now and then, to stop what you're doing and switch into another industry entirely -- or at the very least, take the ceramics class that your right brain has been hankering for since high school. You daydream at work, but your left brain never abandons you for too long. And that's just fine with you.

Innovation ingenue -- 0-12 points
Is there anything more annoying than someone using the term "creative temperament" to justify behavior that's just plain irresponsible? Sure, innovative thinking has its time and place. But it's hard to see just when and where. What with your employees, family, investment portfolio, and life's other obli- gations, it's tough enough finding the moment to exercise. What a shame to have wasted 10 minutes on some lame little magazine quiz.

For explanations of the answers behind the questions, please go to www.inc.com/IQ.

The Innovation Factor: Part II

Inside Innovative Minds
Innovative Minds
Your Brain on Innovation
What's Your Innovation Quotient?

Plus: The Innovation Factor: Part I

Please E-mail your comments to editors@inc.com.

Last updated: Sep 1, 2002

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