“Then there are the incrementalists- those with the ability to play the role of both Dreamer and Doer.”
In business, there are multiple personas. The dreamer, the doer, and the incrementalist. Together, the dreamer and doer balance eachother out, but all three of them make magic happen. I’ve been on a bit of a “soul searching” mission lately that’s involved me taking a really raw and honest look at what kinds of personality traits and habits I possess that are positive, and which ones aren’t as strong as I like, because I think that as a growing professional it’s hard to take an unbiased and unfiltered look at yourself but absolutely necessary.
In this personal/mental journey, i’ve been identifying different character defects/flaws and areas where I could improve, and leveraging people that compliment those strengths and weaknesses around me in order to do great things.
Which is how I discovered the mantra of the dreamer, the doer and the incrementalist.
The dreamer has trouble executing, but they come up with amazing ideas. They need a doer to drag them back down to the earth and force them to execute.
The doer, on the other hand, is always grounded. They’re reliable, they get work done, and make sure the dreamer doesn’t float away like that guy from the movie “Up.” They’re both necessary, and together they balance themselves out to make a great working team.
The incrementalist is a persona that I feel reflects my mindset and personality. It’s a persona that’s become fascinating to me recently because I didn’t realize that there was a work-type that existed between the typical boxes of “dreamer” and “doer” – both of which I never felt I fit into. You can ask my fiance how I operate. I assure you that if you were in my head for a day, you’d feel like you were going insane…
But being an incrementalist can be a curse.
I say that being an incrementalist is a curse because of the “ability” to juggle multiple projects and shift into different modes to start and end them. One could say that’s a valuable thing. But therein lies the problem because it’s easy to fail at gauging your personal capacity. There’s more opportunity for failure, and you can’t learn without that. But as an incrementalist there is also a larger opportunity for success if you find that partner or complimenting persona to balance you out. It’s important in life and in business, and can mean the difference between “average” and “absolutely amazing.”
But that’s also the fun in being an incrementalist. You get to be both a dreamer and a doer. A true shape shifter, and the ability to be a pretty valuable linchpin.
I tend to operate as an incrementalist because it fits well with small attention span and need to learn and do everything. One reason I’ve gravitated towards building teams (small teams of smart people) is because I can indulge all aspects of an incrementalist personality- I can pow wow and brainstorm big, creative ideas, and then also get down in the nitty gritty to help execute on those things. I don’t think i could be solely a dreamer (I would get impatient and hate myself) or a doer (because you’re nose-to-the-grindstone and that gets dull). The incrementalist is a weird hybrid, and I like it.
Some of the greatest businesses were built by unintentionally combining skill sets of dreamers, doers and incrementalists. Steve Jobs (Incrementalist- CEO), Jonathan Ive (Doer- COO) and Tim Cook (Dreamer – Chief Designer)… Calvin Klein (Dreamer) and Barry Schwartz (Doer)… Ralph Loren (Dreamer) and Roger Farah (Doer) … Bill Bowerman (Dreamer) and Phil Knight (Doer)… all of the above businesses have made a mark in this world because they were able to trust and leverage others who balanced out their natural deficiencies.
In business, we tend to gravitate towards certain personas. I tend to gravitate towards dreamers and incrementalists. Doers, not so much, mainly because incrementalists can double down as an executioner as well.
So tell me… who are you? What persona are you drawn to?