How Many Types of Creativity Are There?

Creativity plays a vital role in driving innovation and problem-solving. Understanding different types of creativity can help organizations create a culture that supports diverse approaches in innovation programs. However, “creativity” can seem to be a genetic characteristic like blue eyes; you’re either born with it or not.

What if you failed art when your were in Grade 3? Or maybe you feel more inventive when the lines are straight and the numbers speak? Creativity is not only for painters or wordsmiths - did you know that 98% of five-year-olds show genius levels of creativity?

It is essentially about creating something. And there are many ways to create something. Let’s look at a few types of creativity so that you can identify and leverage these in your own problem solving.

1. Divergent Creativity

Divergent creativity refers to the ability to generate multiple ideas, solutions, and perspectives in a short amount of time. It involves thinking outside the box, embracing unconventional approaches, and encouraging wild ideas without discrimination.

In an innovation program, divergent creativity helps to think differently and find new solutions, often leading to groundbreaking ideas. This creativity has it’s strength in the sheer number of ideas it can produce, the more the merrier.  One idea leads to more ideas exponentially. 


2. Convergent Creativity

Convergent creativity focuses on refining and selecting the most promising ideas or solutions generated through divergent thinking. It involves critical thinking, evaluation, and the ability to discern the best course of action. It is a future casting process; eliminating options until only the most viable of all possible futures remains. 

‘Convergent’ anything gets a bad rap these days. However, even this type of creativity has a place in an innovation program. Convergent creativity helps prioritize and consolidate ideas, leading to the development of feasible and effective solutions. Having a soothsayer on your team is like having someone who can predict the future, saying "if you do this... the future will be that..."


3. Lateral Creativity

Lateral creativity involves making connections between seemingly unrelated concepts or domains. It uses analogy and metaphor to generate new ideas, while preventing "echo chambers" where there is no room for new data.

In an innovation program, lateral creativity helps people to gather ideas from various sources and utilize knowledge from different areas. It also assists in finding unique solutions to challenging problems. 


4. Emotional Creativity

Emotional creativity taps into the power of emotions to express ideas and experiences in special and meaningful ways. It means being able to understand and use your emotions to inspire and communicate effectively. Daniel Pink’s book “To Sell is Human” has an evocative subtitle: “The Surprising Truth About Moving Others”. The word emotion comes from Latin, meaning to move or excite.

In an innovation program, emotional creativity fosters empathy, enhances collaboration, and drives human-centered design. It provides genuine connection with customers and creates meaning beyond clocking in and out of work.


5. Adaptive Creativity

Adaptive creativity refers to the ability to adapt and innovate in response to changing circumstances or constraints. It involves being flexible, resourceful, and resilient in finding solutions. This is the cat that always lands on their feet.

In an innovation program, adaptive creativity helps people deal with uncertainty, embrace challenges, and adjust their approaches quickly. This leads to agile problem-solving and continuous improvement.


Next Steps:

Creativity of any type can benefit an innovation program by offering a sort of multiverse of possibilities. This is only part of the process, though. The next step might be to prototype a solution or to leave the building, either way, getting feedback is vital to moving towards a viable solution.


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