What kind of creator are you?

by Alex Varricchio, Think Shift

You’re a creative professional, skilled in the art of problem solving. Someone has a business or brand challenge and engages your team to help solve it.

After developing the brief, you probably start by holding a brainstorm, gathering together various members of the team: planners, designers and anyone else who might provide good perspective. You all jump in a room and start throwing ideas out. Sometimes these meetings are successful; sometimes they aren’t.
One thing is consistent though – depending on the mix of people in the room, your results will vary. Significantly.

I was looking into the way people solve problems and was thinking about how we assemble a varied group of unique people in a room because we want unique perspectives. But we conduct our brainstorms in such a way that only the loud and on-the-spot thinkers end up bringing ideas forward. Essentially we lose out on ideas from those who think differently.

By identifying, up front, what type of creators are on your team, you can be more effective at generating ideas in a way that actually works.

Let’s assemble group-think brainstorms with people suited to on-the-spot ideas and front of the room leadership, let’s conduct individual-think sessions for those who think best when on their own, and let’s ensure we have people who will champion the process to carry us through to completion.

How do we do this? Well, that’s where these Creator Profiles come in.

These four categories can help you understand how you (or your team members) solve problems, which parts of the problem-solving process best fit your personality, and how to self-identify and know when you should jump into a challenge and when you might want to back out.

To understand where you best fit, take a look at the profiles and read the statements in each. If you strongly agree with one, that’s probably your primary profile. If you see yourself in a couple, you might have a primary and secondary profile.

The Motivator
To solve a problem, you look to the people around you. You define the problem and can inspire people to take action. Whenever you face a challenge or problem, people rally around you and offer to help out. You’re often the flag bearer to the problem we are trying to solve.
How to identify: You feel like you bring more value to the room through your passion and not necessarily specific ideas.
You take people through a problem-solving journey, painting a picture of what the challenge is, where we’ve come from and the grand potential of where we might be able to end up.
When to step forward: You’re needed throughout. The start and finish are the most important parts for you to be involved.
When to step back: You may not need to be involved in all of ideation. Keep the team going, but recognize you won’t need to be present for all problem-solving discussions.

The Contemplator
You find the first part of problem solving is taking the time to understand the problem. You take your time, reflect and process the information, mull a bit, and gain a new perspective before moving forward. Your ideas percolate and come together with time.
How to identify: Your best ideas often come to you on your own after you’ve left the brainstorming room.
You don’t speak much in brainstorms. You find you take things in first and then come up with ideas on your own.
When to step forward: You’re best involved once the initial “bang” has happened. Take the ideas, process them, shape/change them, scrap them and come back with something brilliant.
When to step back: If you feel like the problem is something that needs a quick diagnosis and action, you may want to duck out.

The Inventor
You’re fast on your feet and ideas come quickly. You’re able to envision creative solutions to any challenge you face. You’ve got ideas you want to get out of your brain and into the universe.
How to identify: Before you’ve even fully read the brief, you’re talking about ideas you have to solve the challenge.
You like the pressure of fast ideation and a quick concept.
When to step forward: You should step up in initial brainstorming sessions and in group meetings, pushing for multiple concepts.
When to step back: Chances are you’re a sprinter and less of a long-distance runner. Come in throughout, but be clear on when you’re in or out.

The Maker
You’re a long-distance runner and an expert at keeping ideas moving through the process. You are great at building support and love to keep building off your own and others’ ideas. You love the process of ideation and thinking of where things could go. You love to get to the work phase of concepts, bringing things to life through different media.
How to identify: You find that after the dust has settled, you’re there holding the torch and reminding people there’s still an idea marathon to finish.
You love the process. From beginning to end you revel in the making of ideas. It doesn’t necessarily matter what you end up with, your favourite part is the process.
When to step forward: You should take the reins once we’re out of the gate. Your best work will come through when it’s time to think about how to make the idea a reality.
When to step back: You should be involved throughout the process, but because you see the beauty in all ideas, it may make it hard to land. During concept selection you might want to step back a bit.

Figure out your own profile and encourage those on your problem-solving team to look at theirs. If we match people to the environment and role best suited to them and make sure we have a good cross-section of creators, we’ll see much better results.

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