October 2012. Originally copyrighted and posted in "Type for Life" by the Center for the Applications of Psychological Type, Gainesville, FL. Used with permission.

So what is the creative process of coming up with something novel? Why do we usually attach that word to Intuitive types and not Sensing types? Are there different kinds of creativity?

I have long been fascinated by Michael Kirton's model of creativity. There are two poles to his continuum: adaptive (to do better) and innovative (to do different).

Adaptive creativity seems like the creativity many Sensing types use. They can often point to exactly where they started in the creative process — what concrete thing gave them the spark. It involves taking something that is and changing a feature or two about it to make something new or better. In marketing terms, it is "extending the line," such as changing an existing product about "10 degrees." The many sizes/shapes/colors of post-it notes come to mind as an example.

Adaptive creativity is how I ended up writing/editing The Type Indicator for Pets. A client mentioned how much he enjoyed type including typing his family and his pets; I thought it might be fun to write up a little tongue-in-cheek guide in how to do so (the pets, that is, not family members!).

An ISTJ friend told of organizing track meet events for various charitable fundraisers. He couldn't always find people to hold the finish banners for the winners to break through at the end of the race. His solution came to him one day watching the crowd cheering on the runners when he spotted some cancer survivors wearing their special t-shirts. He thought they deserved a more prominent role and quickly asked them to hold the banners — they were thrilled. He also got his announcer friend to call out their names making it even more special.

At the Thomas Edison Museum in Florida, you can see the many, many attempts to find the right filament for the light bulb. Edison said, "Creativity is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration." He is seen as a quintessential adaptor.

Innovative creativity is that idea that comes out of nowhere — the "light bulb" idea so to speak. It can be a "180" degree turnabout of the topic at hand, at times. By the way, because the symbol of the light bulb is associated with creativity, apparently having it present actually encourages creativity.

Innovative creativity likely comes from accessing Intuition. It may come from an association or "reading between the lines" and cannot always be linked to the concrete of what is at hand or literally in the hand! Einstein's theories of relativity quickly come to mind with this kind of creativity. He is purported to have had a sign hanging in his office, "Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts."

Innovators and Intuitives are often searching for what is new and different. Doing something the same way is unmotivating, and they are more likely to leave an organization if their ideas and innovations are not valued.

Just as we acknowledge and value two ways of Perception — Sensing and Intuition — we can acknowledge and value two ways of creativity. We need both in this complex world of ours!

NOTE: Damian Killen and Gareth Williams expand on this topic even more with their Introduction to Type and Innovation. They provide portraits of how all 16 types innovate.