Clarifying and Developing: A Balancing Act

I’m exploring how creativity works within a creative organization — what are the strengths and where are the potential blind spots? In an earlier post, I described how the eight members of the core team recently learned their FourSight Breakthrough Thinking Profile preferences for different stages of the Creative Problem Solving process. The team profile showed high preferences for Ideation and Implementation (the orange and purple bars), and low preferences for Clarification and Development (blue and green bars):

FourSight Team Profile

There was a general sense of recognition of the abundant energy that drives the team’s work from generating creative ideas into implementing them. That’s what the company is hired for; its brand differentiators are reflected in the team profile. This is a good thing.

And yet, what about these other spaces of clarifying and developing? (Clarifying refers to gathering plenty of data on the big picture before beginning to generate ideas; developing is the stage where the best ideas are elaborated and strengthened.) The team could see their low preferences playing out here, as well. More than once, the lack of thorough clarification has shown up when the project concept was further along in development. New understandings with clients surface, sometimes late enough in the game to require stressful last-minute adjustments. Perhaps, one team member suggested, it was because the clients hadn’t been clear themselves. How much more important was it, then, to make sure that really thorough clarification happened from the company’s end?

A suggestion was made to develop a white paper to educate clients on how to think about the engagement in ways that would really help them bring forth all the relevant information at the beginning. Additionally, by customizing some Creative Problem Solving clarifying tools, the company can develop a template to use with clients when scoping out projects.

The low preference for developing also piqued discussion. For a team that has a high preference for generating ideas, there’s a tendency to continue to pump new ideas into the developmental phase, which can muddy the waters and sometimes take the concept off-track. A method for tracking idea development was suggested as a way of distinguishing between iterations that enrich the final product, versus great ideas that are best saved for another opportunity.

And how about working together as a team?  One team member remarked that knowing where the individual preferences lie reminded her of a relay race, where team members hand off energy to each other through the process. It’s a lovely observation. For a creative team, some of them working together for a decade, the insights into individual and team preference from the FourSight measure have given them new understandings of how to support each other through the balancing act of the creative process.

Next steps: training on some Creative Problem Solving tools to support the developmental phase. In the meantime, if you’d like more information on FourSight, and how it can help you or your team, let me know.

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