Three Universal Cognitive Styles
Another important way foresight professionals differ is in their preferred set of cognitive styles. Recall the Three Ps Foresight Model. Some of us naturally like to think mostly about probable futures, some about possible futures, and others about preferable futures. Some of us prefer two of these, or all three, in different contexts.
As we’ve said in earlier chapters, we can nickname these three thinking styles the Anticipator, the Creative, and the Manager. Some people are happiest predicting or discovering futures, others imagining or creating futures, and still others prefer trying to manage or guide the dragon of change in a preferred direction for themselves, their families, and their organizations. Good Managers, though they prefer agenda-driven futures, will opportunistically use each of the two more basic types (probable and possible). Managers, good or not, are probably the most common thinking style.
You can self-assess which of these three styles fits best by reading our descriptions of each below, or by taking the Kirton Adaption-Innovation (KAI) diagnostic, available at Kaicentre.com. This 32-item assessment will tell you whether you are a Forecaster-Protector (called an Adaptor by Kirton), a Creator-Innovator (called an Innovator), or a mix of the two, a strategist-planner type that we call a Manager (called a Bridger by Kirton). The KAI diagnostic has been reasonably validated over several decades of use. Here is a good brief overview of the KAI by Jack Hipple, principal of TRIZ Consulting. Unfortunately the assessment is not yet self-accessible online. To take it you must use one of Kirton’s certified facilitators. Contact them for a facilitator in your area. Expect to pay around $80 (less for groups). If you’d like more on the theory behind the test, you may enjoy M.J. Kirton’s book, Adaption-Innovation (2003), expensive in print, but $20 for the Kindle edition.
Let’s look at each of Kirton’s three basic thinking styles now in more detail. As we’ll see, these are an alternative way of considering the five types of foresight careers we will discuss in Chapter 4.