Idea Contributors

– M.J.Kirton
(from notes kindly provided by Rosenfeld and Dubras)

A-I theory assumes all people problem solve. So, when a problem arises (say) at work, anyone might be expected to contribute to its resolution. As and Is are liable to do so differently.

If, however, seniors ask for “ideas” on matters not directly related to the current job, then innovators are more likely to contribute, so the theory assumes. Here are two examples from data contributed in the early 90s, at an advanced workshop.

Rosenfeld, then in R&D in Kodak (US) reported that when this division’s staff were asked for ideas on what products “might” be considered to be developed over the “next decade, innovators contributed disproportionally.

He had evidence from some samples to believe that the division mean was close to the expected R&D mean of 102. The mean data for the (circa) 90 responses to the management invitation (up to then) was as follows:

R&D Contributors Those offering Those offering
(estimated) total 1 or 2 ideas 3 or more ideas
102 113 108 124

Dubras, then in Canada Atomic Agency asked R&D personnel for volunteers to serve (unpaid, mostly in own time) on an “ideas generation” committee, to look “well into the organisation’s future”.

The committee formed (and with some members who served throughout plus others who had come and gone) but all stayed for at least several sessions. Over some years the total number came to about 50. The mean of this group was 114 – a mean surprising close to Rosenfeld’s finding.