Creative Talents, But What Kind?

Innovation and Creativity permeate the pages of business books and internet storytelling.

Unlike Project Management skills or Financial Analysis, Creative Talents aren’t a homogeneous lump of artistic, business-oriented goo. (I haven’t the slightest idea where that line came from. It just flowed at the end of the sentence. Must have something to do with my own hidden, artistic goo).

I know from my work with client companies that the cry for “Innovation!” and “Creative Solutions!” is a loud one. I’m not sure that everyone has the same definition or really understands the distinct subsets of Creativity that individuals can offer.

Here is a way to begin to distinguish among Three Unique Creative Talents:


Creating. The inclination to form new associations among previously unrelated concepts, objects, or systems. These folks are continually experimenting with new ideas. You can observe this in any endeavor: office work, administration, sports, teaching, management…and, it doesn’t necessarily require much knowledge of previously developed methods.

The gift here: creating something new out of what appeared to be unrelated, existing entities.

Imagining. Very different from creating and truly in the realm of the mind. Those of you with this innate talent will form new associations in your mind as a result of theorizing, philosophizing, daydreaming, and hypothesizing. This can extend to the development of story characters  and other entities that do not yet exist. In other words, the generation of something brand new.

I believe this is what many organizations claim they are looking for but then stop people from  “doing” it because it doesn’t look like “work.”

Inventing. This is a way to distinguish those whose tend to produce physical creativity from those who live in the world of ideas and concepts. Inventors–for classification purposes– have a natural talent for developing new technical equipment and physical systems. One way to identify this kind of creative talent is to observe people who “act out” there ideas in tactile ways using substances such as wood, concrete, plastic, glass, etc.

Real-life story About “Creative” Differences

While doing consulting and coaching some years ago with executives at an energy company in Pennsylvania, I received a fascinating request: Would I meet with some of their almost-college-age children and do some “testing” to help the young people better understand their talents?

So, I asked: “Why do you really think that’s important?” (Effective consultants, like effective counselors, never roll with the ‘presenting’ issue:-)

The real pain was not with the off-to-college crowd; it was with the parents. These adults were all highly educated, highly trained engineers who saw the “real world” as a very physical place. They were unbelievably creative in their problem-solving as well. However, the youngsters involved were making noise about majoring in Theater Arts, Fine Arts, and Music. To the executives involved, even if their kid sculpted the next “David,” it wouldn’t actually do anything.

From this brief description you could no doubt sit down with the parents and explain what was going on. However: these were engineer parents. So, I spent time doing talent assessments and interviews with the young people (thoroughly enjoyable) and then sat down with them and their folks. When the data were presented along with a list of actual talents and related careers–life at home became good again.

These were terrific parents who cared enough to do something about:

a. Changing some of the thinking of their children as a result of good information

b. Changing some of their own thinking as a result of good information

Thought for today: Begin to engineer your thinking about what it means to be creative. Take time to discern your own inclinations and those of your colleagues. When you begin to see that Creativity comes in different, useful forms, you’ll start using more of it.Create, Imagine, Invent. . .

Create, Imagine, Invent. . .

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Steve has designed and delivered leadership and communication programs for some of the world's largest organizations, and has more than 30 years in training, development, and high-level executive coaching. His Roesler Group has created and delivered leadership and talent development internationally for corporations such as Pfizer, Minerals Technologies, Johnson & Johnson, NordCarb Oy Ab, and Specialty Minerals--Europe. Steve is currently involved in the latest update of his Presenting With Impact program, a cross-cultural presentations workshop that has been delivered on five continents to more than 1,000 participants representing nearly 60 nationalities.


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