Understanding Creative Profile Can Decrease Team Frictions and Strengthen Performance


People’s natural approach to solving problems can vary widely, and this can cause problems 

Picture this… Dana and Quinn are meeting together for the third time to solve an operational problem. Dana is thinking why can’t we just get on with it – we figured it all out last week, but we’re stuck still talking about the problem”. Quinn is thinking, We still don’t have a good grip on the problem we’re trying to solve”. Dana wants action. Quinn wants to clarify the problem. Both are frustrated with the other and their lack of progress, especially as the deadline looms. 

Dana and Quinn might be experiencing the frustration that can arise in a team when people’s natural preferences for solving problems, creative preference or profile, create a barrier to progress rather than enhancing it. 

What is creative profile’? 

Creative profile’ refers to how people use creativity to solve problems. It’s not a question of how creative we are (which is level). All of us humans (and other animals too) use creativity to solve problems. Creative profile deals with how we are creative, what comes naturally to us as we think our way through a problem. 

Creative profile is not intelligence or ability 

Creative profile doesn’t signify or measure intelligence, ability to solve problems, or creativity. It’s not related to success in life. It’s just a picture of where your energy tends to be when you solve problems. Do you naturally prefer to get ideas, or do you like to implement them? Do you find yourself still analyzing the current state while others want to figure out how to set things in motion? Do you jump in at the middle or prefer a more structured approach? 

Where is your natural energy in solving problem lie? 

The FourSight assessment, results in creative profiles based on four preferences. What do you gravitate towards? Think of the last time you had to solve a problem. What part of the process did you enjoy the most? What did you wish that someone else could help with? 

  • Clarifiers like to understand the situation. They thrive on asking questions, getting to the heart of things. But they can get stuck in analysis. 
  • Ideators love getting ideas. But, they can overlook important details. 
  • Developers are experts at seeing how to make something better, making it robust. But, they can drag down progress by wanting a perfect solution. 
  • Implementers are action oriented. They like making the solution real. But, they can leap to the most obvious solution and not consider something better. 

People’s profiles are combinations of preferences. 

Most people have combination profiles and have more than one preference. For example, you might like to get ideas and then immediately implement them; gathering facts and arriving at a thorough picture of the problem is not your thing. Nor is ensuring that ideas are developed into a robust solution. You’re happy to experiment, make mistakes and then go back to the drawing board. This is an example of a two-preference profile. 

Creative profile relates to where a person’s natural energy lies. But people can, and do, flex 

Don’t feel trapped by the thinking that your profile limits your performance. It’s only a picture of where you naturally feel the most comfortable in the problem-solving process. But, and this is an important but, people and teams flex. It takes more energy to think and do things that are not in our comfort zone. But you, and others, do it all the time. The key is to be aware of when you need to flex, and then be intentional about doing so. 

Why is knowing your and your team’s profile useful? 

Differences in how people think and solve problems can both help and hurt a team’s performance. Differences help strengthen a solution. But they can also cause frustration and conflict, even breakdown. Team productivity depends on people working together well. But when they are confused or annoyed about why someone is the way they are, or how they do something, it can cause problems. 

It doesn’t have to be this way; when a team knows its profile, interpersonal friction can decrease, and solutions can be more innovative. Here are some ways that a Team Profile can help: 

  • Reveal blind spots: there may be aspects of the problem-solving process for which the team has little interest. Imagine what might happen if no one on a team is an implementer: great solutions are created and left to languish. 
  • Build appreciation and respect for people’s differences: In the example above, Dana might be more willing to welcome Quinn’s energy for getting to the root cause, appreciating that the implementation road map will be all the more valuable for it. Quinn might self-reflect and realize that they are in danger of analysis paralysis” and that it’s time to move on. 
  • Focus energy more effectively by giving space and consideration to each preference. Over time, this leads to high performing teams and can spark innovation 

Knowing your creative profile, and those of the people you work with can be hugely beneficial. It is not intended to explain all our behaviour and how we get along (or not) with others. But it does offer a way for how we can work with others to solve problems more effectively and creatively. 

When is a good time for knowing your team’s creative profile? 

There is no bad time to gain an appreciation of your and your team’s creative profile. But here are some situations that you might consider investing in your or your team’s creative profile: 

  • When you notice that you or your team are not making the progress that you expect for the given talent and capabilities that exist; 
  • When the level of frustration is growing and people don’t seem to understand or respect how others think through a problem; 
  • When the outcome of a project is critical, requiring a highly effective team producing innovative results; 
  • At project initiation, when team members haven’t worked with each before, or if there’s someone new joining the team or company; and, 
  • As a team-building activity, suitable for an offsite or company event. 

Where does this idea of creative profile come from? 

A little background on creative preference or profile. There are two widely recognized assessment tools for creative thinking or profile: FourSight and KAI2

Conceptually, FourSight stems from a process model called Creative Problem Solving” (CPS). CPS helps people solve problems and innovate more creatively by isolating the process into phases: analyzing the problem, coming up with ideas, and implementing solutions.3 (There are various riffs’ on the original six phases of CPS.) CPS appears to be the foundation for other design process models, including Design Thinking4, popularized by IDEO and, the Double Diamond5 design process model from the British Design Council. 

The Kirton Adaption-Innovation inventory (KAI) was developed by Michael Kirton6. This inventory measures how much structure people like, in how they behave and solve problems. Some people prefer a highly organized and structured approach. Others gravitate toward being totally fluid and boundary-free. 

The KAI framework is different from CPS, but at their core both show that people have different preferences and profiles for how they solve problems. Both frameworks have significant research to show scientific theoretical soundness. 

The combination of creative profile + creative problem-solving training is a practical and immediate route to developing solutions more creatively and faster. 

lndividual & team creative profile assessment and training in Creative Problem Solving offers huge potential for stronger collaboration, and a boost to innovation and problem-solving capacity. Teams come away with a mindset (their creative profile), a framework (CPS), and a toolset (the tools and training that accompany CPS), an understanding of how the three work together, and the ability to use them immediately. 

To learn more about creative profile and CPS training, please reach out to us at info@​maraconsulting.​ca. Stay connected with us on LinkedIn Mara Consulting‘ for more insightful information and updates.