The four creative types

And how to combine them to build a diverse and effective team

The role of creativity in innovation processes

Every innovation process is structured in four different phases in which the mind moves between moments of convergence (we open the focus) and divergence (we close the focus). However, each one of these phases has some specific goals that we have to keep in mind at every step of the process, to know how to approach them and, finally, be able to achieve them. At this point, and to adapt ourselves to the goals of each phase, we need to resort to the most valuable, flexible and creative tool, that we can get in an innovation process: our team.

Before we start, let’s define creativity.

Visual graphic of the creativity's formula. Creativity is equal to knowledge plus imagination plus evaluation

In the innovation field and the world of ideas, we have the following elements to define creativity:

  • Knowledge:Understood as the knowledge that we have concerning the problem.
  • Imagination:Understood as the ability to see and create solutions that don’t exist.
  • Evaluation:Understood as the ability to evaluate which ideas are better or worse.

Nobody has pure a creativity, there ‘s people that have a lot of knowledge but few imagination, or a lot of imagination but don’t know how to evaluate which ideas are better… That is why it is so important to know what you are good at and what you are not, in order to support yourself in your team when you need it.

Tell me in which phase you are and I will tell you which creative type you need

To build a powerful team that is made up with different profiles, with specific abilities and (call it “super powers”) will provide us a complete “tool box”, with the aim of getting most of each phase of the innovation process and achieving every goal of them.

To build this creative, strong and decisive team, first we need to get to know the main creative types its strong skills and in which phase they perform better. We can identify more creative types, but we can say that these are the main four profiles that every team should have in each innovation phase:

  • The Generator: Phase 1, Opportunities and needs generation.
  • The Conceptualizer: Phase 2, Conceptualization of new possible ideas.
  • The Optimizer: Phase 3, Optimization of solutions to propose.
  • The Implementer: Phase 4, Implementation and validation of solutions.
The mail four creative types: Generator, Conceptualizer, Optimizer and Implementer

Let’s introduce each one of these types:

The Generator

The Generator is in charge, during Phase 1, of analyzing the environment, collecting data and indicators from consumers, and suggesting possible opportunities for change and improvement. Basically, this is the type that shows up with new information and possibilities that, even though they are not fully developed, constitute starting points for new projects.

In short, this creative type is in charge of starting things, imaging possibilities and perceiving all kinds of problems and new opportunities concerning the challenge.

The Generator is the one who lights the flame of the creation process.

THE GENERATOR PROFILE
Task: Starting the innovation process.
Preferences: Elaborate and ideate options.
Type of thinking: Mainly, has a Divergent thinking. Feels comfortable acquiring new information through direct experimentation. Likes to make questions to look for useful data that help the team solve new problems or opportunities identified.
Characteristics:

  • Before acting shuffles all the possibilities. Thinks about both the good and the bad side of the idea.
  • Doesn’t worry much about the details, and prefers to focus on the global concept and delegate this to others.
  • Imagines and analyzes situations from different perspectives. This is a strong point.
 

The Conceptualizer

In Phase 2 we have the Conceptualizer, the creative type that converts facts and fragments of the needs detected in the generation phase, into concrete problems and challenges already defined, to keep working in the following phases.

This type loves to quickly come up with connections. His strong point is to define problems and conceptualize new ideas and opportunities, and he is capable of giving an explanation about elements without apparent connection. His main interest rests in the definition of the problem and finding ideas.

The Conceptualizer’s “super skill” is to make connections of seemingly unrelated ideas.

THE CONCEPTUALIZER PROFILE
Task: Keeping active and running the performance of the innovation process.
Preferences: To understand and define the problem. This type likes to play with ideas but is not very concerned with moving towards action.
Type of thinking: Has a Divergent thinking. Uses the abstract thinking as a source of information, and doesn’t usually focus on the direct experience to get data.
Characteristics:

  • Bring together all the information collected so far in search of new visions.
  • Creates connections between the different elements, making everything make logical sense that helps define problems and find new ideas.
  • Looks for the logic and precision of ideas.
 

The Optimizer

Already in the Phase 3 of the innovation process, the Optimizer starts to work with the ideas that have already been defined previously by the Conceptualizer, to find the solution that fits the best, while making detailed action plans that serve as a guide to develop it successfully.

The strong point of this type is to convert abstract ideas into practical solutions and plans. Performs better in situations when there is only one correct answer or one optimal solution for the problem, and he is quite good in the evaluation and selection of ideas, with the main purpose of being able to plan and get into action.

The Optimizer is the most realistic type. Puts the feet on the ground to be able to go forward.

THE OPTIMIZER PROFILE
Task: Setting down ideas.
Preferences: To focus on specific problems and small quantities of information that allow the team to identify weak or improvement points for each situation.
Type of thinking: Has a Convergent thinking. The abstract thinking of this type allows him to comprehend previously formulated ideas, to set them down into something tangible.
Characteristics:

  • Converts ideas and abstract alternatives into solutions and practical plans.
  • Creates optimal solutions to select well defined problems.
  • Mentally tests the ideas as a way of validation, but doesn’t get to fully test them. 
 

The Implementer

In Phase 4, the Implementer is in charge of carrying out the practical solutions proposed and ensures their correct implementation. That is, it takes care of verifying that the solution is viable and that it is running correctly.

The goal of this creative type is to keep things running. He believes in the “trial-error” dynamic, and he doesn’t need to comprehend the problem completely to keep forward. He makes things work one way or another.

The Implementer pulls forward, whatever happens. The culture of failure is in his veins.

THE IMPLEMENTER PROFILE
Task: Completing and finalizing the innovation process.
Preferences: Being in charge of making things work. This type doesn’t need to comprehend to proceed.
Type of thinking: Has a Convergent Thinking. Puts aside abstract thinking to base everything on facts and experience to confirm that the team is on the right track.
Characteristics:

  • A test or mental check of the idea or concept is not useful for him. He needs to test them and validate them properly.
  • Is a doer more than a thinker.
  • Quickly adapts to changing circumstances.
 

Conclusions

Many times, when facing our innovation project, we focus only on finding innovative methods, processes, tools or platforms that help us achieve our objectives. However, on these occasions we forget that the most important and valuable tool we have is our team and the people who make it up.

Therefore, having a diverse team made up of people with different creative profiles will help us to be more successful in the creative resolution of the problems of our innovation project and to cover it from all possible angles. And remember: this has to be trained a lot.

Published at 14/12/2020

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