Your Creative Style

In addition to interviews with 100 people, a formal questionnaire was provided to 1,000 individuals. It was presented as a tool to help people describe how they solve problems and use creativity. The results of the questionnaire categorized people across four quadrants. The quadrant that held the most responses represented the strongest trait for respondents. The four quadrants were:

1. Foragers, who look for new angles and ideas for clients.

2. Explorers, who seek new ways to do things.

3. Synthesizers, who are good teachers and can see priorities quickly.

4. Disseminators, who are outcome focused.

Research on creativity demonstrates that people are a mix of these four types and do not fit neatly into one quadrant. People can rate in all four quadrants; however, it is more common to have a clear strength in one or two. The results of this questionnaire found that companies with employees who have a mix of styles tend to do better than companies where everyone on the team is in the same quadrant with their creativity. However, when there is a common theme among styles for a team, employees report more satisfaction with their colleagues. To ensure teams work well together, managers should understand where everyone best fits in order to play on their unique strengths. Productivity improves when managers can identify who is best at what.

When putting together a team, it is important to use the principles of divergence and convergence, which are two very different ways of thinking.Divergence is useful when the goal is to explore and learn new things. It is a very open process but can be difficult for people who are not inclined to stay open minded and suspend judgment. The opposite principle of convergence is used when it is time for an answer regarding an idea. Those who aim to get to convergence quickly tend to prefer structure and are very action oriented. When there are strong preferences for divergence or convergence in a team, conflict in the group can result. Success comes when all four creativity styles work together to solve problems.

Creativity in Organizations

One way to encourage creativity in organizations is to encourage team members to have brainstorm sessions. In this approach, teams are asked to present a number of ideas off the top of their heads without judgment. The purpose is not to have a solution immediately. Rather, it is to encourage people to explore a number of options. This is generally better than idea generation as an individual because a group of participants can bounce ideas off of people in the room. Most people tend to judge more than offer unique ideas, which make brainstorming very valuable.

Although judgment is deferred during brainstorming, at some point the ideas will need to be judged. Once a list of ideas is created, then it is time to critically evaluate which ones should be explored further. The goal is still to avoid any personal judgment for the people who generated ideas, since brainstorming is a group process.

A good brainstorming session honors four rules:

  1. Focus on quantity over quality, since a greater number of ideas is more likely to generate a solution.
  2. Put criticism on hold, since the initial goal is to add to the list of ideas.
  3. Refrain from assumptions and be open to new perspectives.
  4. Combine ideas with the goal of making improvements on them.

As mentioned earlier, Mind Maps can be a useful tool to help teams see pieces of ideas that fit together. They can also be easier to work with since new information can easily be added at a later date.

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