Adaption–Innovation Inventory, Michael Kirton (1976)

The Adaption-Innovation Inventory (A-I Inventory) is a psychological assessment tool developed by Michael Kirton in 1976. The inventory is designed to measure an individual’s preferred problem-solving and decision-making style, specifically in terms of their inclination toward either adaptiveness or innovation.

Kirton’s research suggests that individuals possess different cognitive styles when it comes to problem-solving and adapting to change. Some people tend to lean towards adapting existing solutions, while others exhibit a preference for generating innovative and novel approaches.

The Adaption-Innovation theory categorizes individuals along a continuum based on their problem-solving style. The two ends of the continuum are:

  • Adaptors: Adaptors are individuals who tend to work within existing systems, rules, and structures. They prefer incremental changes and modifications to existing methods and solutions. Adaptors are skilled at optimizing and improving current processes and often excel at implementing established procedures effectively.
  • Innovators: Innovators, on the other hand, are individuals who thrive on generating new ideas, exploring unconventional approaches, and challenging the status quo. They are more comfortable with ambiguity and are inclined to think outside the box. Innovators often seek to disrupt existing systems and create entirely new solutions.

The Adaption-Innovation Inventory consists of a series of statements or questions that assess an individual’s problem-solving style. Respondents rate their agreement or disagreement with these statements, allowing for the identification of their preferred approach—either adaptation or innovation.

Understanding an individual’s problem-solving style can have implications for team dynamics, decision-making processes, and problem-solving strategies within organizations. By recognizing and appreciating different styles, teams can leverage diverse perspectives and enhance their ability to tackle complex challenges.

It’s worth noting that the Adaption-Innovation Inventory does not label one style as inherently superior to the other. Both adaptors and innovators have unique strengths and contributions to offer, depending on the context and nature of the problem at hand. The inventory serves as a tool for self-awareness and understanding, allowing individuals and teams to capitalize on their inherent problem-solving tendencies for more effective collaboration and decision-making.