Making the Most of Your Team’s Unique Creative Abilities
This is the second installment in a series that explores how applying creative tools and principles in the workplace can help deliver better results and engender positive change.
As discussed in the Benefits of Creative Work Cultures, teams and organizations have a great deal to gain from viewing creativity as a form of open-ended problem solving. By broadening the definition in this way, the focus shifts from “how creative a person is” to “how that person is creative” — the particular aptitudes and perspective that he or she brings to a given situation.
There are creative preference tools and research that profile people in different ways. But based on our experience as an agency, collaborating with clients across industries and sectors, we find that most individuals tend to have a distinct, natural strength in one or two areas. Below we’ve identified five types of workplace creativity we’ve observed, each with its own positive and negative tendencies.
The Analyst likes to research and gather information about a problem to help clarify it for others. Typically, Analysts are people who thrive on asking the right questions, ensuring the correct problem is being tackled and anticipating potential obstacles before they occur.
Analysts usually prefer to proceed with caution, and may be guilty of over-thinking problems and refusing to move on solutions, even when realistic ones have been presented. To help loosen the grips of reason and logic, people from this group should be paired with people who will help push projects forward.
The Ideator best fits the romantic ideal of the “creative person” who can generate new ideas seemingly out of thin air. Generally, members of this group excel at looking at the big picture, playing around with abstract concepts and using intuition and non-linear thinking to solve problems.
Ideators can also have a tendency to overlook details, frustrate collaborators with a disregard for process and get carried away with endless possibilities—and possibly lose sight of the end goal. When working with Ideators, the key is to get them to concentrate on the broad strokes of an issue and leave the finishing touches for others.
The Remixer is someone who draws from existing ideas and concepts, and combines them to create new ones. For people with this strength, the whole is usually greater than the sum of the parts as they make connections between seemingly unrelated elements and bring value by applying them to different contexts.
Because their contribution comes from finding compatibility between almost anything, Remixers can sometimes lower their own standards and allow that to replace original thinking. To get the most from Remixers, it is crucial to partner them with colleagues who will continuously feed them fresh ideas to toy with.
Much like Remixers, Developers build on the work of others to exercise their brand of creativity. They specialize in comparing ideas, fleshing them out and planning out the necessary steps to put them into action. Judgment and critical thinking are important skills that Developers possess, as is the ability to visualize a successful end result.
Developers are prone to getting stuck in the evaluation process, however, focusing on the flaws of a solution until it is “perfect”. To avoid coming across as negative, they must be reminded to constructively build up ideas rather than on pick them apart.
People with Executor-type creative skills usually take an action-oriented approach to problem solving, focusing on making solutions feasible. They have the determination and ingenuity to give ideas the structure they need to become a reality. Executors can be brilliant at making things happen.
On the flip side, Executors may voice their frustration when things are not moving as fast as they would like and can often be perceived as too pushy. They are so determined to implement a solution, that they may pursue an idea that is good, but not great. To ensure that they don’t leap to action too quickly, it is imperative for them work with people with a firm grasp of the big picture, and the energy to push for excellence.
In conclusion, by being aware of these different strengths, the right individual can be assigned to the right type of project or the right stage of a project. Teams can also be put together with the right balance of strengths to ensure an initiative doesn’t get stalled. While we are all truly individuals, these profiles can be helpful in understanding, appreciating and maximizing the unique abilities of your team in order to solve problems and achieve objectives creatively and effectively.
What do you think?
Do you recognize yourself in some of these creative archetypes? What are some ways that you ensure that the pros of your creative styles outweigh the cons? How can you and your team better utilize the unique creative abilities of every member to deliver better results?
The Creative Spark Series is a joint initiative by the MARCOM Professional Development Annual Forum and marketing communications agency Banfield-Seguin, a proud official supplier of theme creative for MARCOM 2013. The series promotes the benefits of creativity in the workplace and presents ways to successfully apply creative tools and techniques to inspire, influence and act.