Creativity comes from the collective, not the individual, claims new report exploring the creative strengths of individuals

Creativity comes from the collective, not the individual, claims new report exploring the creative strengths of individuals

In 2020, GENIUS YOU carried out a study involving over 2000 respondents from 17 multi-nationals across 10 sectors.

The study analysed information extracted from a psychometric survey completed by respondents in the period 2015-2020 which explored the creative strengths of individuals. 

The results of the study split creative people into two groups - generative and evaluative.

Those at the generative end of the creative process were characterised by their Explorer and the Detective abilities and those at the evaluative end of the spectrum are characterised by their Judge characteristics. 

Here's some info on the different kinds of characters:

Explorer - I enjoy coming up with fresh and exciting ideas, inspired by people and places, the new and the old, and alternative ways of thinking. My sense of adventure knows no bounds and I’m always unearthing items of interest. As a result, my head is forever brimming full of possibilities that I’m always keen to share with those around me.

Detective - I am good at sifting through large amounts of evidence and information. I search for small kernels of ideas that might lead to big opportunities with great commercial potential. Using my strong sense of intuition, I find interesting links within the data, identifying patterns that others might not readily see.

Judge - My job is to look at the alternative choices, weigh up the pros and cons for each, and then select the right one to take forward to the next stage. I establish clear and unbiased criteria when leading the decision-making process, but I’m equally comfortable using my gut instinct if and when required.

The results were conclusive.

31% of respondents scored highest as the logical, analytical Judge character – making this the dominant behaviour. 

This compared with 21% for the Explorer, the generator of ideas. 

And only 9% for the Detective, the spotter of ideas with potential.

The report identifies eight key themes underpinning the bias away from the exploratory, ‘let’s create’ mindset.

The blockers included the usual suspects like being ‘time poor’, in ‘process overload’ and a reluctance to ‘broaden horizons by looking outside the office’.

By far and away the most dominant theme was a lack of ‘internal sharing and cross-pollination’.

Almost 23% of all comments made in the surveys fell in this camp. This is a verbatim quote from one of the respondents that points towards the problem as well as the opportunity:

“As there are so many teams all working on different projects with different outcomes, it would be more beneficial to do more sharing between teams to help nurture new ideas and inform decisions.”

There are two conclusions that we draw. The first revolves around the source of creativity.

The problem has often been that in the eyes of many, creativity remains outside their grasp.

There is this belief that you are born creative and if you are not blessed with the gene, tough luck.

However, this is not the case, for two main reasons:

First of all, we ARE all born creative. 

We have all been kids and we have all had great fun doing magical things with cardboard boxes. It’s just that our education system and life, in general, sent this gene into enforced hibernation.

Secondly, new ideas are more often than not the result of the collective unit. It’s the collision of talent and minds that produces great results.

During the rescue mission of the ill-fated ‘Houston, we’ve had a problem here’ Apollo 13 mission, it wasn’t one creative genius who came up with the plan for how to rescue the stricken astronauts. It was a multi-disciplinary team, led by NASA Flight Director Gene Kranz, who worked around the clock for several unbearably tense days in April 1970 to develop and implement a radical solution that brought Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert and Fred Haise safely back to earth.

More often than not great creative work comes from the collective rather than the individual.

The very gifted Barcelona football team of the last 10 years has not just been about their star player, Lionel Messi. Coldplay doesn’t only revolve around Chris Martin, and ABBA, one of the greatest bands of all time, was most certainly the sum of all four parts.

The coronavirus has, inadvertently, presented us with an opportunity.

Back in the good old pre-Covid-19 days when people sat in their offices, stuck in front of their computer screens, everybody was finding it impossible to escape their silos in order to cross-fertilize and cross-pollinate. 

You may work for one of the largest corporations in the world, with an abundance of stored knowledge and experience, but sharing information ideas, meeting up formally or informally, workshopping, was simply not possible. 

However, in the new world of Zoom and Microsoft Teams, where 5, 10, 30, 60 people are but a click away from a meeting lasting 5, 10, 20 or 60 minutes, don’t we now have the wonderful opportunity to do what was obviously so impossible in normal times?

What’s more, during the next few months, it’s going to be even more critical to spend fresh thinking time together, if only to preserve our mental health.

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