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Know thyself: how a creative assessment helps teams

by | May 19, 2023

Did you know that you have preferences in relation to creativity and the way you think about problems, just like you do with anything else?

  • Do you like the big picture or the detail? Are you a muser or a yeller in brainstorms?
  • Do you like structure and order or do you prefer to push boundaries?
  • Do you like to share your ideas immediately or do you prefer to noodle for a while, before you share your thinking?
  • Do you like to take risks?
  • Do you have 100’s of ideas that fall out of your mouth in a torrent of half-formed sentences or do you have one or two well-formed ideas?

Different styles can lead to different approaches to challenges and therefore different ideas. As the legendary Paul Arden said: “It’s not WHAT you think, it’s HOW you think.” Research has shown that diversity of teams and thinking styles is key to creativity and high performing teams know how to harness this.

At Now Go Create we are trained in a tool called the VIEW which assumes that everybody is creative and it asks the question: How and in what ways are you creative? This is different to many approaches to creativity where people consider the question: How creative am I? It’s often talked about as something that you could perhaps score out of ten or say: “I’m on fire, average or terrible.”

Some of the key insights are around how you approach novelty and problems as well as how you work with others. You will have a preference towards what’s called the Explorer or the Developer style. It asks questions like:

  • How do you prefer to deal with boundaries, parameters, and authority?
  • How do you feel about and react to structure?
  • How do you prefer to respond to novel challenges?
  • When do you share your thinking?

These insights can have a profound effect on the way you conduct brainstorms, facilitate creativity and approach problems yourself. When I first took the assessment as part of the MA into Creativity and Leadership I changed my approach to brainstorm facilitation and training the very next day as I realised that my own preferences in terms of creative tools and process were not necessarily those of the rest of the group! The session was far more productive as a result.

Next time you’re planning a session consider the different types of thinkers in the room. You won’t know how everyone thinks but you should assume there’ll be a mix of people. So, have a variety of tools, use open and closed questions and problem statements, break people into smaller groups and if you want to push the ideas to the next level, ask the group what would happen if you took more risks, if you want to ground the ideas, ask the group how to make the ideas more workable. These are all skills we teach on our most popular creativity training & we’re running open creativity workshops online regularly.

Assessing creativity is a challenging task due to its complex and subjective nature. There is no definitive or universally agreed-upon assessment method for creativity. However, several approaches and tools have been developed to evaluate creative thinking and abilities. Here are some common assessment methods used to evaluate creativity:

1. Divergent Thinking Tests: These tests measure the ability to generate multiple ideas, solutions, or interpretations. Examples include the Alternative Uses Test, where participants list as many uses as possible for a common object, and the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking (TTCT), which assess various aspects of creative thinking.

2. Creative Product Assessment: This involves evaluating creative works or products, such as artwork, writing samples, musical compositions, or design prototypes. Assessors examine the originality, novelty, and quality of the final outcome.

3. Creative Problem-Solving Tasks: These assessments involve presenting individuals or groups with open-ended problems that require innovative solutions. The emphasis is on the process of generating ideas, evaluating options, and implementing creative problem-solving strategies.

One of the informal assessments we like here at Now Go Create is the The Adobe Creative Types Assessment. This is a tool developed by Adobe to help individuals understand their creative personality and preferred creative work style. The assessment is designed to identify one’s primary creative type based on a series of questions and prompts.

The Adobe Creative Types Assessment is inspired by psychologist Carl Jung’s theory of psychological types and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). It aims to provide insights into an individual’s creative preferences, strengths, and potential areas of growth. The assessment categorizes participants into one of eight creative types:

  1. The Artist: Artists are imaginative and expressive, often driven by the desire for personal and emotional self-expression. They enjoy creating unique and original works.
  2. The Thinker: Thinkers are analytical and logical, focusing on problem-solving and strategic thinking. They excel in creating innovative solutions and uncovering new possibilities.
  3. The Adventurer: Adventurers are curious and open-minded, seeking out new experiences and embracing change. They thrive on exploring new ideas and taking risks.
  4. The Maker: Makers are practical and hands-on, enjoying the process of creating tangible objects or crafts. They are skilled in craftsmanship and often excel in traditional artistic mediums.
  5. The Producer: Producers are organized and detail-oriented, skilled in project management and bringing creative ideas to life. They excel in coordinating and overseeing creative projects.
  6. The Dreamer: Dreamers are imaginative and introspective, often creating rich and vivid imaginary worlds. They excel in storytelling and visualizing possibilities.
  7. The Innovator: Innovators are forward-thinking and visionary, always seeking new ways to disrupt and revolutionize the creative field. They are driven by pushing boundaries and challenging conventions.
  8. The Visionary: Visionaries are intuitive and future-oriented, possessing a deep understanding of trends and emerging technologies. They excel in conceptualizing and envisioning the big picture.

The assessment aims to provide individuals with a better understanding of their creative strengths, work preferences, and potential areas for growth. It can be a helpful tool for self-reflection, career exploration, and team building in creative environments. It’s worth noting that the assessment is designed to be a fun and insightful experience, and its results should not be taken as a definitive measure of an individual’s creativity or creative potential.

Here at Now Go Create we are trained in a formal psychometric problem solving assessment called the VIEW, which explores an individual’s preferences in relation to problem solving.

Creativity is such a big old soup of factors that no single creative assessment method can fully capture its complexity. However these assessments can be helpful for team building and understanding differences and diversity in your team.

In the HBR article “Putting Your Company’s Whole Brain to Work” Dorothy Leonard and Susaan Straus discuss the importance of managing cognitive diversity and fostering innovation within organizations. The authors highlight the need for collaboration among individuals with different thinking styles and preferences in order to generate creative ideas and solutions. That’s another reason why ‘assessments’ – formal or not – can help people to recognise and appreciate difference.

The article identifies two common managerial responses to the clash of ideas: avoiding conflict by surrounding oneself with like-minded individuals, or attempting to bring diverse individuals together without understanding how to manage their differences effectively. Both approaches can hinder innovation and lead to unproductive conflicts.

The authors introduce the concept of “creative abrasion,” which refers to a productive process of allowing different thinking styles to collide and stimulate innovative thinking. They emphasize the importance of designing organizations that incorporate a spectrum of cognitive approaches and perspectives. The manager’s role is to establish ground rules for working together and to foster mutual respect among cognitively diverse individuals.

The article also discusses various cognitive preferences, such as analytical or intuitive thinking, conceptual or experiential approaches, and social or independent work styles. It highlights that these preferences are not inherently good or bad but can be assets or liabilities depending on the situation. The authors recommend using established diagnostic instruments to assess individuals’ thinking styles objectively and thoroughly.

The managerial challenge lies in using the insights gained from these creative assessments to drive new processes and behaviors that promote innovation. The article suggests that managers should start by understanding their own thinking styles and how they may unintentionally stifle creativity in their teams. It also emphasizes the importance of hiring, working with, and promoting individuals who are different from oneself in order to foster innovation and overcome personal biases.

Overall, the article stresses the significance of cognitive diversity, effective communication, and collaboration in driving organizational innovation and success.

If you want to find out more about our problem solving assessment and how we can help you to build a creative team get in touch!

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