The asset of creative people is their mental dexterity. Creative people can maneuver in different types of thinking depending on the needs of the situation. They may need to excavate ideas, inject some art into old boxes, fix and improve the idea and voila! A new sales concept is arrived at.
Most individuals have the capacity to be creative, but lack of practice keeps the ideas from coming. According to Roger Von Oech (1986), there are four roles in the creative process: explorer, artist, judge and warrior. Each role embodies a different type of thinking.
First, the team taps new ideas to work on. The explorer looks for potential materials to start with: concepts, experiences and feelings. Get off the beaten path and make use of bizarre patterns. The materials the team finds can form a pattern or the artist in everyone can poke some fun and bring about new concepts. Have a plate full of questions and rearrange the details. Break the rules and create your own. Every member of the sales team is involved in brainstorming ideas.
Now, adopt the mindset of the judge. The judge, based on the goals of the team, evaluates and critically weighs the evidence. Look for drawbacks, resources to make the idea happen, question the assumptions made. By the time the idea is polished, it is time to implement it. The warrior in the team commits and develops strategies to reach the goals. The sales team has to amass the courage to make the idea real by overcoming temporary setbacks, obstacles and excuses.
If the need arises, it is possible to shift back to the other roles. Maybe the team needs more evidence so the judge tells the explorer to dig more facts. The team must persistently work to reach their goal.
Two obstacles for low creativity are due to weak roles and bad timing. If the artist's imagination is locked in a box, the team ends up with a concept that lacks the punch. If the judge slackens on his critical skills, the team risks approving garbage and rejecting potentially great ideas, letting time and effort to waste. If the warrior's a wimp, chances are that it’ll be taking the team years to get things done. Every team member participates and integrates into the four roles at the appropriate time. Timing is paramount.
Each role has to be used at the right time. Thus, team members are reminded to pay attention to what kind of thinking is needed for the situation at hand. The explorer who keeps digging may never get to come up with an idea to focus on. The judge who keeps evaluating may keep the team from making a timely decision.
For improved performance, each has to develop the creative roles and use them at the appropriate time. Creative thinking is enhanced with practice. Unused, it’ll rust or dry up like the pen stuck on the holder for months.
Von Oech, Roger. (1986). A Kick in the Seat of the Pants. New York: Harper & Row.