The Four Creative Behaviors

If you ask a group of people what one of the biggest hurdles is in bringing creativity and ideas to life, there’s a very good chance that most of them will say ‘implementing ideas’. Or more to the point ‘implementing the right ideas’. And the reason for that is that we all fall into one of four different types of creative behavior. And three of those aren’t quite as potent as the fourth. So bear with me a moment while I set the scene. It works like this.

There are four different behaviors (let’s call them quadrants) and these quadrants are outlined by a horizontal and vertical axis. The vertical axis represents activity – low on one end and high on the other. The horizontal axis represents ideas – again low on one end and high on the other. Our creative behavior fits within one of those quadrants.

Thinkers

In the top left quadrant are people who are fantastic at coming up with ideas and concepts. They are great at seeing possibilities. However they are not very good at acting on those ideas. These are the ideas people but their challenge is in finding a place in the world for their ideas. We still need these people because we need great ideas and we need people who can see unique and fresh possibilities.

We call these people – the ‘Thinkers’.

Activators

Opposite these people in the bottom right-hand quadrant are the people who are really good at taking action. These people may not be great at coming up with the ideas but they are really good at getting active and making them happen. In fact quite often ideas are passed to them, usually by the thinkers. We need these people because they’re the ones who get ideas up and running.

We call these people – the ‘Activators’

Students

Then in the bottom left-hand quadrant, are people who are not really good at coming up with ideas or at acting on ideas. That doesn’t mean they are less creative than everyone else, it simply means they may not have been given the right opportunities or haven’t been taught how to utilize their creative talents. We need these people too, because they are the future if we nurture them well.

We call these people – the ‘Students’.

Think-a-vators

Then in the top right quadrant we have those who are both really creative and good at coming up with ideas BUT are also really good at taking action on their ideas as well. This is gold.

It’s a good thing to have great ideas but unless you act on those ideas, it’s a complete waste of time. It’s also a good thing to be proactive but if you act on the wrong ideas, then it’s a waste of effort. Think-a-vators are good at doing both in a complementary manner. We need these people because they have a knack of finding the right ideas and making them work.

We call these people – the ‘Think-a-vators’

All for one

Here’s the good news, rarely do we sit completely and totally in one quadrant, we tend to flip around. The goal of course is to be think-a-vators, but that won’t always be the case. At times, depending on the project, the environment and the problem, we may find ourselves predominantly in one quadrant. And that’s okay.

Casting

Within any organization, within any team, there is a blend of creative people who sit across all quadrants, and we need them all. We need the ‘thinkers’ to provoke ideas, we need the activators to get things done, and we need the students for their fresh perspectives. In that sense, if we get the blend of creative talent right – if we get the casting right – the team itself becomes a ‘think-a-vator’

So the issue of implementation is not one of coming up with ideas it’s not one of taking action. The real issue with implementation is in getting the mix right between finding the right ideas and then acting on those ideas. It is being a thinker and an activator. It’s being a ‘Think-a-vator’.