Innovative Organizations

Bob Cryer

Bob Cryer

Nonprofits need innovations to have bursts of growth in their capability to do more of their good work in our community. Forbes staff member Brenna Sniderman has summarized a Forbes Insights’ study of 1200 executives that led to the identification of the five personalities that an organization needs to nurture and properly deploy in order to make innovations happen.

Shakers and Movers are leaders with a strong personal drive. They like to be out front, driving projects forward. They are motivated by targets, rewards, being influential and the idea of creating a legacy. 22% of the executives studied were shakers and movers.

Experimenters are persistent perfectionists and tend to be workaholics because it takes an incredible amount of dedication, time and hard work to develop and push through an idea that has not caught on yet. They are proud of their accomplishments and enjoy sharing their expertise with others. 16% of the executives were experimenters.

Star pupils have the talent to be good at everything. They seek out and cultivate the right mentors, get the right assignments at the right time, develop their personal brand and rise through the ranks, even when the culture is stacked against them. 24% percent of the executives were Star Pupils, the “stem cells” of the business world.

Controllers thrive on structure, are uncomfortable with risk and shy away from nebulous projects. They prefer to be in control of everything in their domain, overseeing a bureaucracy. They are not networkers or team players, and pop up most frequently in the sales, marketing and finance functions. 15% of the executives were Controllers.

Hangers-On exist to bring everyone back down to earth and connected to reality, hewing to conventional wisdom and the tried and true processes over the new and untested. They are the ones who remind everyone of the limitations of the institutions processes. 23% of the executives were Hangers-On, clustered mostly in the CFO/Treasurer/Comptroller roles.

Younger, innovative firms tend to have Movers and Shakers at the top, channeling the energy of Experimenters into a vision that can be implemented. As organizations mature, they need Star Pupils who can translate this vision into a strategy and lead it forward, Controllers who can marshal troops to execute the strategy, and Hangers-On who can rein it in.

Does your organization have a Mover and Shaker with strong relationships with an Experimenter and a Star Pupil. If the Mover and Shaker is not the CEO, do they have the CEO’s support? Which of the five roles are most similar to you? How do you engage with your organization’s innovation processes?

To read all of the Forbes Insights article, go to

Author:  Bob Cryer,  Executive Coaches of Orange County,