Are you being true to your Creative Style?

Various house styles

Imagine your perfect house…

Is it a modern, open-concept home in a bustling city?

Or a quaint, rustic home in the countryside?

Just as architectural tastes or styles differ between people, so do their creative styles.

What is a “creative style?”

In the 1970’s, a researcher named Michael Kirton identified two distinct, opposite ways people express their creativity. He called one of these creative behaviors “Innovator” and the other “Adaptor”.

Your creative style is your personally unique blend of these two behaviors.

Innovators

Some people are boldly inventive, with an endless supply of different “big ideas.” These people are called innovators (you’ll see why in a minute).

Innovators don’t care about what ideas may have already been in place – only new and different ideas count.

Innovators do not just “think outside the box” – they smash the box and run over the debris to get to new and improved solutions.

Adaptors

Other people take things as they currently exist and “magically” modify and rearrange them to get better solutions. These people are called adaptors.

Adaptors add to, subtract from, flip over, magnify or shrink, twist, eliminate, multiply, or break into parts to get results.

Adaptors may not look like they “think outside the box,” but they leave you with a new and improved box that does seven new things at half the price of the old one.

What is your creative style?

Each person is unique and has a unique creative style, regardless of your definition of creativity. This is why there is not any single, standard way for creative people to express their creativity.

The best tool to objectively assess your creative style is the Kirton Adaptor-Innovator Inventory (KAI). The KAI places you (and everyone else) on a common continuum scale. No one, no matter how extreme, behaves 100% one way or the other. Everyone’s creative style is a mix of the two extremes.

The Adaption-Innovation Theory and its associated psychometric instrument (KAI) will provide you with insight into how people solve problems and interact whilst decision-making.

The KAI Centre

Regardless of your own blended style, there is always someone who is more of an innovator than you and someone else who is more of an adaptor than you. This relativity explains why two people from opposite sides of the continuum will disagree on any third person’s creative style – to the die-hard innovator, the “average” person is hopelessly adaptive, but to the hard-core adaptor, that same person is dangerously innovative.

Creative styles and organizations

I repeatedly tell leaders, managers, and those working with people’s creativity that they must learn to embrace this relativity and use it to find ways to leverage individual creative behaviors to the benefit of all.

For example, managers will find that a style-diverse group is often better at handling a wide range of different creative problem solving challenges; but they must remember that this range of different styles makes managing that group more challenging.

Likewise, managers seeking to solve closely-related problems may be wise to select groups with similar creative styles suitable for those types of problems.

So stop thinking about creative styles in terms of “right or wrong,” but move towards a “where can this person contribute the most?” approach.

Over to you

How will you apply your new understanding of creative styles? Please feel free to tell me in the comment section below.

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Trevor McAlpine

Trevor McAlpine is the President and Founder of Synergetic Management and is in charge of consulting, training, and content strategy. When he isn't devising new ways to help entrepreneurs and executives get awesome results, he likes to solve the mysteries of the universe. He also wishes he had even more time to spend with his family.