Creativity enhancement techniques recognise that individuals have fundamentally different approaches to problem-solving and to idea generation.
The key issue, says William Miller,president of the Global Creativity Corp., is not 'am I creative, but how am I creative? Because while we have equal potential for being innovative, we have very different strategies, or styles, for handling challenges. Each of us has a "mother tongue" for creativity.' Miller, formerly a creativity expert at consultants SRI, identifies several styles of creativity in the business world.
The modifying style looks for solutions by applying methods that have worked in the past. Their slogan is 'Let us build on what we already have and make improvements where necessary'.
The visioning style belongs to those who look far behind the immediate facts and circumstances and imagine what the ideal solution would look like - for example, President John F Kennedy's goal of getting the first man on the moon.
The experimenting style puts a high value on fact-finding and information-gathering, on trial and error. They say at the beginning of a project 'Let's combine different elements in new ways and assess the result.' The exploring style looks for new angles on old problems. They hope for new assumptions and to seek adventurous and risky lines of thought.
Miller's is but one of many creativity inventory tests that are commercially available and widely used. Creativity typing is useful
in recruiting and assigning people to project teams.
'If someone is an explorer, you don't want to use him on a mature project that needs minor modification,' Miller observes. Another benefit: 'Knowledge of styles lowers conflict, because a lot of conflict in collaborative groups is really between styles, not personalities.'.