Inneagram: Stakeholder Collaboration in Innovation Ecosystems

Inneagram: Stakeholder Collaboration in Innovation Ecosystems

The story of this infographic began 16 years ago during a Summer School organized by the University of Cambridge. Not in the City of Perspiring Dreams itself, but on the mystical mountain Uludağ in Turkey, with 15 fellow students in a mountain hut more than 1 hour away from the nearest town with cellphone reception. On this mountain, led by Cambridge professor Jim Platts, we took an ESTIEM traineeship in transformative leadership. Without taking a deep dive into the material of the Summer School, one of the models that we started to work with was the Enneagram. Not only the power of the model itself, but also the history behind it, really intrigued me and so the story began.

Over the years, I’ve read much more about the Enneagram. Mostly used in (business) psychology, the framework is best described as an adaptive approach to recognize your own – and others’- behaviour in interactions with others. So it’s not, as many think, a framework for personality traits, like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) or the Big-5 personality test. It perhaps holds the middle between these personality tests and the Rose of Leary, a theory of behavioral influence. The theory helps you to find your comfort-spot and from there on explains how your interactions with others happen and could be improved if you learn how to read it. It’s adaptable: it may change under different circumstances, under different preconditions and in different situations.


And there it is: these transformative processes are very prevalent in innovation ecosystems as well. When, for a research study I was doing, I finally created a list of 9 different stakeholders that are preconditional for successful innovation ecosystems, I got the idea of combining the enneagram (ennea = 9) and replace the types with ‘stakeholder types’. Obviously, this didn’t fit seamlessly and I started to research relationships in collaborative innovation to optimize this framework – and the inneagram was born.

Download a high-resolution (PDF) of this infographic now!

9 Types of Stakeholders

In the framework, I’ve distinguished between 9 types of stakeholders:

  1. Public Sector Innovation: This type takes the form of public sector parties, such as government, innovation agencies and institutions.
  2. Innovation Brokers: This type takes the form of intermediate parties, such as regional agencies and innovation consultants.
  3. Innovation Suppliers: This type takes the form all business partners in the mesosystem, i.e. suppliers, competitors and clients.
  4. Innopreneurs: This type takes the form of entrepreneurs, inventors, startups, specialized SMEs, and tech agencies.
  5. Innovation Research: This type takes the form of universities, research centers, scientific boards, boardroom consultancies.
  6. Early Adaptors: This type takes the form of clients, co-creation partners and labs, and lead users.
  7. Scalers: This type takes the form of investors, incubators, accelerators, venture capital investors, angels.
  8. Communities: This type takes the form of local communities, local governments, residents and employees.
  9. Challengers: This type takes the form of NGO’s, social innovators, social entrepreneurs, thought leader

For each of the stakeholders, the Inneagram identifies the following:

< Left wing: from which type does this type lend its strengths from when collaborating?
? The original name in the enneagram
# Its strengths in collaborative innovation alliances.
@ Typical parties associated with this type.
+ How these types behave in thriving collaborations
– How these types might behave when challenged in collaborations.
🖤 Which type this type usually forms very strong bonds with.
💔 Which type this type usually forms very problematic alliances with.
> Right wing: from which type does this type lend its strengths from when collaborating?

How to use

There are several ways to use the Inneagram. The most common ones are:

  1. Corners of Intelligence: The corners of intelligence are the most prevalent collaboration patterns that we can recognize. They reflect, clockwise, the body, heart and mind. Types within the same corner have very similar behavioral patterns and organizational structures.
  2. Wings: The wings indicate how organizations blend into each other. Most organization don’t fit right into one specific box, but act as a combination of 2, most commonly there left or right wing. That’s why some companies might characterize themselves as a “1w2” organization: an organization that mostly identifies as a type 1 but with significant strength borrowed from type 2s.
  3. Harmonic Alliances: The harmonic triads are 3 different types of alliances that find each other easily in their level of energy. These alliances tend to be very strong, as they built upon inner trust and energetic relationships. We distinguish between the Positive Outlook Alliance, the Competency Alliance and the Entrepreneurial Alliance. These alliances are excellent collaborations in the starting phase of building an innovation ecosystem.
  4. Communicative Alliances: The communicative triads are 3 different types of alliances that find each other easily in their preferred styles of communication. These alliances tend to be effective and result-driven, which is beneficiary in the exploitation phase of a particular innovation system. We distinguish between The compliancy alliance, the introspective alliance, and the assertive alliance.
  5. Goal-oriented Alliances: The goal-oriented triads are 3 different types of alliances that have a shared goal in mind. These type of alliances find each other easily before the kick-off the creation of an innovation ecosystem and towards the end of an ecosystem lifetime. We distinguish between the relationalistic alliance, the pragmatic alliance and the idealistic alliance.

The Inneagram is now available as a download in our Innovation Toolbox and I’d be happy to answer any questions you might have!