Tag Archives: development

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.

Riding High on Ideas

A Creative Thinking Profile of a Creative Team

I’m exploring how creativity works within a creative organization — what are the strengths and where are the potential blind spots? As an important first step, the eight members of the core team recently learned their preferences for different stages of the Creative Problem Solving process. We’ll look at how this creative team stacks up as a group…

We used the FourSight Breakthrough Thinking Profile to generate the data. FourSight is a great tool for understanding where your energies lie for different phases of the Creative Problem Solving process: clarifying the situation, generating ideas, developing ideas, and implementing them. For example: are you energized by coming up with ideas, or do you find your greatest preference to be in implementing them? Does gaining a through understanding of a situation give you the most energy, or are you attracted to developing ideas and fleshing them out? Maybe you have two preferences, or three, or all four. FourSight brings this information to light.

A key thing to keep in mind is that FourSight measures personal preference, and not ability. Talented, motivated people can develop their abilities across all four preferences. But: what you’re good at doing and what you love to do often feel differently; this is where the question of preference comes in.

Why is this important? Apart from the value of knowing how we thrive within the creative process, this information helps us avoid pitfalls. When we’re stressed, tired, or under time pressure, our low preferences can become potential hazards, blocking us from bringing our best and most thorough creative thinking to the task at hand.

Understanding preference is also very important in team work. What happens if a team is loaded with developers who love to perfect things, but has few people who gain energy from implementing? Or what about a team that loves to hold onto the first step of clarification, generating reams of data, but gets stuck moving forward? And, in a situation many teams can identify with, what happens when people with different preferences step on each other’s toes? Looking at a group FourSight profile gives a clear snapshot of the creative thinking strengths and tendencies for weakness within a team.

So how did this group of eight creative people show up? This company’s stock in trade is in coming up with creative ideas and implementing them in memorable ways. It’s no surprise, then to see the results:

Creative Team FourSight Profile

The team shows a strong preference for ideation (the orange bar), followed by implementation (the purple bar). But clarification (blue) and development (green) are low preferences for them collectively.

How might this play out during project work for clients? Might there be ways in which ideas are generated without a thorough understanding of the client’s needs or context? Might there be times when the development stage becomes muddied? Do the dual preferences of ideation and implementation energize this team to dependably identify strong ideas and successfully carry them out?

Most importantly, knowing there are no wrong scores, how to make the best use of the information, and help this team build on their successes?

In an upcoming post, I’ll share insights the team generated, and plans for applying them.

In the meantime, if you’d like more information FourSight, and how it can help you or your team, let me know.