No Imitation Games in Cognitive Styles


The Imitation Game” is a movie starring Benedict Cumberbatch loosely based on the biography Alan Turing: The Enigma. The movie shows how Alan Turing cracks the Enigma code used by Germans during World War II. When all the cryptographers (mainly Hugh Alexander, Jack Cairncross and Peter Hilton) try to break the Enigma code by using conventional methods, Alan starts to build his machine called “Christopher” for the same. Also, when Commander Alastair Denniston refuses to fund the construction of the machine, Alan reaches out to Prime Minister Winston Churchill who funds the machine. Alan is clearly the innovator in the team and fits perfectly into the role described in the Innovator’s Toolkit. His colleagues are more of adaptors and they initially think Alan is wasting his time with Christopher. Joan Clarke who is appointed newly in the team plays the role of the bridger. She being more of an innovator herself (according to the Kirton’s Adaption-Innovation (KAI) continuum) helps Alan with his work. She also realizes the communication gap present between Alan and the other teammates. She helps in creating an atmosphere that is conducive to teamwork and also helps in bridging the cognitive gap between the team members when trying to crack the Enigma codes. Due to this, Alan’s teammates start to help Alan and trust is formed among the team members (e.g.: Hugh giving Alan a design change to reduce the compute time of Christopher, the whole team stands up for Alan when Denniston tries to shut down Christopher, etc.).

So What?

I can relate to an experience (where innovator, bridger and adaptor are essential for a successful team) similar to the one depicted in the above movie through one of my classes at Virginia Tech. My team had three members. One person was an innovator (came up with out-of-the-box ideas) and the other person was the bridger. I was the adaptor and was always trying to see if all the design ideas were feasible and implementable. But, in the ideation phase of the project, as Osborn says, quantity will breed quality. To ensure that a lot of ideas were not shot down by practicality, the bridger played an essential role. She was really good in closing the cognitive gap between me and the other teammate. I did not feel much stress caused due the coping process during the ideation phase. The next semester I worked with the same person who was the bridger in the project for another class. I found her to be the innovator in the second team. So, as mentioned in KAI theory, cognitive styles is relative based on the team.

Now What?

I would like to follow some simple steps for removing the blocks to my individual creativity. I would start by taking conscious steps to remove the barriers in the process as suggested by Isaksen et. al. Some measures I would take are: start to tolerate uncertainty of ideas, not rely only on customs and habits, and not pose any resistance to using my imagination. I identify these to be the starting steps to increase my individual creativity. I feel this would eventually help me in coping with innovators in my future teams and even be an innovator in some teams.


No Imitation Games in Innovation
No Imitation Games in Innovation

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