Developing innovation through knowledge of thinking preferences
Many business enterprises are facing difficulties and being required to be innovative in their policies and practices as they face competition within a global economy. This research set in the AI-Jubail Petrochemical Company in Saudi Arabia, took the view that effective innovation was related to the cognitive, creative and interactive skills of the workforce within the managerial and administrative framework of the company. Hence the research had three principal components namely: (i) to examine the thinking preference profiles of the workforce; (ii) to design a training course in which the thinking preferences became associated with creativity, innovation and collaborative problem solving and, in contrast to other studies, (iii) to examine in detail the influence of thinking preferences in the process, performance and perceptions of the collaborative problem solving teams A review of research literature gave support to using the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI) as a measure of thinking preferences (which was administered to 452 employees) and to the application of ThinkPak and Whack Pack cards in the creativity activities. These themes were linked to illustrations and discussions of working practices Overall the coursee valuations were very positive. A principal component of the research was a detailed study of the performances of 81 teams,in the problem solving tower building activity. The data showed diversity in the HBDI profiles and in the tower designs and implementations. An interesting result was that teams homogeneous or heterogeneous with strong HBDI profiles performed well on the task criteria, whereas those teams with weaker homogenous/heterogeneos HBDI clusters were much less effective. This result, however, has to be related to the leadership capabilities in the teams. Self-report questionnaires on team contributions and interactions suggested that participants tended to follow their dominant thinking preference profiles. A further important component was the linking of the research materials and findings to the innovative company practices. In this regard, the design of a HBDI databank browsing system and a computer based suggestions framework were outlined and illustrated. Further research suggestions included more detailed analyses of the relation of HBDI profiles and leadership roles to the development of team dynamics and the authentication of the decision making.