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What kind of creative are you? How to identify and maximise your skills

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If you’ve never thought of yourself as a creative person, here's a news flash; you’re probably wrong. Though painting, music and design are all considered to be benchmarks of innovation, there are actually far more types of creativity out there stretching far beyond the stereotypes.

Are you the office ideas person? The dynamic problem solver? The logistics expert? Though none of these pigeon holes come artfully decorated, they all require certain levels of creative ‘out of the box’ thinking.

“If you’ve stopped thinking of yourself as creative, the good news is that it’s never too late to harness your inborn creativity (and this is not as difficult as it might sound),” write Otto Kroeger and David B. Goldstein in their book Creative You.

“The idea that we’re either naturally creative or not is a myth; we’re all born with personality preferences that we can use to be creative in our own way and thrive.”

Inspired to find your own brand of creativity? As Kroeger and Goldstein note, there are innumerable ways in which to create and innovate; from cooking and DIY to office logistics, the very concept or creativity is one that’s wholly personal and unique to you.

The idea that we’re either naturally creative or not is a myth.

But according to innovation strategist and entrepreneur Adam Jorlen, lots of these individual creativities can all be grouped into five key categories; divergent thinking, lateral thinking, aesthetic thinking, systems thinking and inspirational thinking.

“Much of the management research and general literature combines these five types into one type, simply called ‘creative thinking’,” Jorlen explains in a blog post dedicated to the topic.

“This is based on old bi-polar concepts such as right vs. left-brain thinking or rational vs. intuitive thinking. So that’s why we often hear that a person is either a right-brain or a left-brain thinker, or have either a creative or a logical personality. That can certainly be useful sometimes. But much of the research around creativity paints a more nuanced picture.”

Ready to delve into Jorlen's five key creative types? Here's a breakdown of each one, along with how you can use your own brand of creative thinking to your professional advantage.

What type of creative thinker are you?

The Divergent Thinker

First coined by American psychologist J.P. Guilford in the 1950s, divergent thinkers are able to quickly generate a multitude of fresh ideas or solutions when presented with a problem or brief, and tend to come at things from a number of different angles. Guilford believed, however, that most standardised intelligence tests are geared towards measuring convergent thinking, meaning that this kind of brain power often goes undetected and unmeasured.

The ability to formulate and organise a flurry of original ideas on the spot, allows divergent thinkers to excel in fast-paced environments where thinking on your feet is essential. Brainstorming meetings offer an ideal opportunity to really show off your skills, along with the breadth of your creative mind.


The Lateral Thinker

Renowned creativity researcher Dr Edward De Bono coined the term ‘lateral thinking’ in 1967. Though often used a synonym for simple creativity, the term specifically relates to a more disruptive way of processing information, and arriving at solutions to problems. Rather than following a step-by-step thought process based on what is logical, the lateral thinker is less likely to limit their thoughts to the 'given' or 'supposed rules', and can more easily explore options 'outside of the box’. This also mean that they can veer off topic at times.

Lateral thinkers are extremely valuable to entrepreneurs looking to strike upon fresh concepts, as well as within advertising, marketing and media industries where business revolves around the search for ground-breaking new themes and directions.


The Aesthetic Thinker

Considered by many to be the ‘typical’ form of creativity, aesthetic thinking is strongly connected to the creation and appreciation of visual art, design and style. They're likely to be the crafters, the painters, the sketchers and the musicians among us.

Able to better consider colour, shape, form and composition, the aesthetically creative mind is well suited to investigating the mathematics and science of good design; aka creating everything from building bridges to cutting edge fashion, as well as having a better eye for interiors, styling and art production.


The Systems Thinker

Common among tech developers, Steve Jobs perhaps best sums up the way in which systems thinking works: “Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while.”

This ability to connect the dots between seemingly unrelated ideas, concepts or problems, plays to huge advantage in innovation industries, where delivering new and creative solutions to life’s problems is paramount.


The Inspirational Thinker

Commonly attributed to musicians, poets, writers and lauded ‘creative geniuses’, inspirational thinkers are the most likely group to experience seminal moments of insight, or sudden ‘lightbulb moments’.

Though less able to deliver creativity on demand or to a timeline, inspirational thinkers will experience bursts of clarity, where a solution or idea ‘just comes’, making them great to have onboard as ‘big ideas’ people, creative directors and consultants.

Images: iStock

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