Tag Archives: FourSight

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.

Creative Environment

I’m exploring how creativity works within a creative organization (see Pulling Back the Curtain for more info).

In creativity studies, we can investigate how creativity manifests through looking at “the 4 P’s:” the Creative Person, the Creative Product, the Creative Process, and the Creative Press, which refers to the environment.

Earlier posts have described moments of the creative process in action; others have explored where the creative person and the creative process intersect, though looking at the FourSight Breakthrough Thinking Profile. Now we’re digging into what the environment for creativity is like at this organization.

While you might assume that creative companies (those that generate creative products of some sort) would have an advantage over “non-creative” companies, this is not necessarily the case. Ever known a production company where everyone is continually stressed out on short deadlines? How about PR/advertising agencies where people are afraid to share ideas out of lack of trust? Or arts organizations that are chronically short of funding? All of these things—idea time, trust, resources, and many more—contribute to the creative environment.

With Pulling Back the Curtain, we’re lucky to be able to test-drive a survey of creative environment which is currently under development. I’ll keep the name secret for now, but will tell you that this survey measures sixteen different dimensions of the environment that impact the perceptions employees have of “interactions, events, policies and procedures” within the organization. The survey takes an “appreciative inquiry” approach: what has worked well in the past, and how might you have more of that in the future?

We sent the surveys last week. By next week the study authors hope to be able to start gathering the data, and piecing together a picture of how this creative company stacks up in terms of creating an environment that supports and invites creativity.

Does the daily arrival of baked goods contribute to an “abundance mentality?” How about the personalized production badges—are they supportive of a “sense of belonging?” What will the “just set up your computer anywhere” office design say about how organized the environment is? We can’t wait to find out!

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.