Your Personality, Creativity and Innovation
This is why I was so interested to connect with David B. Goldstein and to learn about his unique background along with the launch of his new book Creative You: Using Your Personality Type to Thrive.
In it, he and his co-author Otto Kroeger provide readers with tools and descriptions to discover their creative personality types and embrace their own personal style but also exploring others’, which can lead to building highly collaborative teams.
After reading it, I thought that it would be an excellent candidate to share with you as part our Books as Tools Series.
In speaking with David, he noted that there are plenty of books on creativity, and he went to lengths to avoid repeating what has been said elsewhere.
“Many books try to show us how to be creative with examples of what has personally worked for the author. This isn’t what our book is about at all; instead, we guide you to find the tools that will work best for you.”
David Goldstein has an M.B.A. in Management of Science, Technology and Innovation from The George Washington University and a B.S. in Imaging Science from the Rochester Institute of Technology. He has also studied at the Hong Kong Art School and the New York Student Art League.
He has been an entrepreneur for over 20 years in many different businesses. Starting in IT, integrating systems in the early days of computer graphics, he then branched into Patent Research, selling his artwork, writing, advising start ups, and now he is shifting his focus into management consulting to help individuals and organizations with creativity and collaboration related to personality type. To learn more about David, visit his website and his Courageously Creative Blog.
Below is my recent interview with David, following themes from his new book:
1. Myths of Creativity
Q: You speak to the myths of creativity in Creative You. With your background starting out in IT, systems integration and patent research, did you experience prejudices in what it means to be creative? Do you think this has changed today?
David: I hadn’t thought about this before and always assumed some people would be guarding the gates so I’ve always looked for the holes in the fence. When I started my first business at 25, I saw that in most fields, because of my age I wouldn’t have been taken seriously but in the computer world, they expected me to be young. Computer graphics was new and in fact I surprised them with my attention to customer service and getting complex systems up and running right away. Soon I was getting referrals and as I did work for practically everyone in DC including the Pentagon, major universities and big ad agencies, my firm was named one of the top 100 imaging companies. It gave me the chance to see the cultures within many organizations. One thing that has changed is that then “creative” people were thought of as a separate function that produced graphics, but creativity wasn’t thought of as strategic. It also gave me the chance to see first hand how people reacted to change. I was integrating new equipment but more importantly, I was giving people new tools and processes. Having them involved in the selection, providing training, showing them what they could do and how their lives would be easier — and always being available to answer questions – That’s what it took to initiate change.
2. Knowing Your Personality Type
Q: How has knowing your personality type helped you in those particular fields?
David: Although I first learned about my personality type as an undergraduate, at that time I didn’t put it to any use. It was much later in my career when it was reintroduced to me by Otto that I saw the value. I guess I started using the strengths of my personality type while doing patent research. I worked on some infringement cases where my job was to invalidate a patent by finding an example of prior with an earlier date. As a person who preferred to make abstract connection, I was often able to use my intuition to identify the right places to search in areas the examiners had overlooked.
People with my personality type prefer to look toward the future and this gives me a long perspective, which at times put me into some markets too early. I was already out of the internet business before the first dot.com wave. The ideas for this book were conceived about 15 years ago and I expect the timing is right, since today, we all need to be more creative. The big perspective often developed by people with my personality preferences has helped me in advising startups in emerging technology fields, for example, after consulting with a CEO of a medical device startup in Asia, I was able to show him that his key role was as the visionary who was driving innovation and this allowed him to be more comfortable delegating the hands on operations to other team members.
3. Energy Sources
Q: In your book, you discuss where people get their energy. I had to review the preferences a few times, before I could really select mine. I found it to be a very reflective experience. It was like I was answering with what I “should,” answer with or how I would be expected to answer…specifically around extravert vs. introvert. Is that common?
David: When taking the MBTI assessment or answering the abbreviated questions in my book, its important to answer as if you are being yourself for example like how you might act on your day off. Try to separate out your work identity and expectations of you, or how you may wish to be. Certainly society pulls us toward Extraversion so if a person finds themselves close in the middle of the scales, it’s possible the person may be Introverted.
For Introversion and Extraversion, it’s not about how talkative or shy a person is. Its about where they get energy most of the time. Most people are energized by people to some extent but over a long period of time, ask do you find that people tire you out or give you energy? Extraverts are energized by people and their surroundings and introverts are energized with plenty of alone time. To be sure, I suggest taking a full MBTI assessment.
4. Creativity and Innovation
“Adapting to our changing economy requires that we invent new ways of doing our most basic tasks – all within our budget, timetable, and desired level of quality. If you left it to others to be creative, much wouldn’t get done, and you would be left out of the new economy.”
Q: We often discuss that innovation is now a required skill set. Business leaders, professionals and students understand the need to develop sustainable innovation capabilities as a path through to professional and organizational growth. How can using personality types to fully utilize ones creativity to help with this? Can you speak to Innovation?
Simply understanding that we are all creative in different ways is the starting point. For example, group brainstorming isn’t for everyone; some people come up with their best ideas later while reflecting during the drive home. Leaving a channel open for them to contribute their ideas afterwards could benefit everyone. Furthermore, some creative types prefer to be conceptual, solving anticipated problems and designing products to enter future markets – other types prefer solving actual immediate problems that exploit today’s opportunities. Obviously these “creative differences” are important and a leader who is receptive to this can maximize the creative culture.
We allow a wide definition of creativity as producing something new — a new interpretation, process, idea, product, service, or solution to a problem, like finding a shortcut on the way to work or substituting a few missing ingredients when making dinner — and consider innovation to extend to make something useful. Certain personality types are very theoretical and pie-in-the-sky and as part of a team are helped to be innovative from others who are more practical, and take an idea and make it work within a given system.
Q. What would you say are the main differences between creativity and innovation?
David: People use the words creativity and innovation in many ways and I see them as close cousins sharing many of the same genes. By casting a wide net creativity can be defined as producing anything new – a new interpretation, process, idea, product, service, or solution to a problem —without necessary being useful. For example, Leonardo da Vinci had a passion for flight and sketched the concepts for a helicopter long before the invention of engines made air travel possible – and while not immediately useful what he produced was certainly creative.
On the other hand, Innovation in my opinion requires usefulness. A person innovates by adding some form of value. Innovators don’t even have to create the idea but see something and realize “I know a new way this could be used,” and they applied the idea in a new and useful way.
In terms of personality types, some people prefer to apply their ideas by innovating within existing systems to solve immediate problems, mixing and matching what has worked before to make incremental improvements. Other types prefer to create whole new systems by integrating ideas to meet future needs. Both types are needed and both can add value.
I’m interested in making the top of the funnel wider by allowing more people to contribute. The way this can happen is for more people to see themselves as creative. Creativity in a sense is the front end of innovation. With more “new” there are more possibilities, more to build upon, select from, and better chances for value to flow through the spout as innovation.
5. Cultivating Courageous Creativity, Collaboration and Teams
Q: Beyond individual types, can you tell us more about “Cultivating Courageous Creativity,” how this influences collaboration, our approach to others and why you think it is so important today?
David: I’m going to use a personal example. I had no idea that something so solitary like writing a book could be such a collaborative process. I thought working with my brilliant co-author would be enough. In the process to get published because of the nature of our book my co-author, agent, editors and the marketing people at my publisher were all consciously aware of each other’s personality types. They didn’t interfere with my vision, gave me plenty of time to reflect and made it more personal, improved the flow, edited out less interesting parts and added others that would be more appealing to readers. They also helped me correct some details, grammar, footnotes, that I didn’t even know where incorrect. If a lone activity like writing a book can benefit from collaboration, everything can help with a team that balances each other’s strengths and blind spots. Things are complex, everyone has a specialty and we can’t do it all alone. Knowing our creative types lets us work together better.
6. Business, Creativity and Collaboration
Q: What are you finding in business today that is different from the past in terms of creativity? Collaboration?
David: Hierarchies are flatter, enlightened firms recognize that creative solutions are necessary and expected from everywhere. Technology has made it effortless to communicate and collaborate with people all over the world. It has also allowed us to join like-minded clusters of people without regard for geography. We have to be more adaptive and responsive but we also have the technology that allows for it.
For better or worse, ideas evolve quickly as emails and texts fly and projects can advance quickly — But tech provides the grease for misunderstandings to escalate and misdirection to be amplified too. The more we know our own personality and those who we work with, the better we can avoid misunderstandings and see ourselves as part of a team and keep everything moving in the right direction.
Q. How do you see businesses and talent within organizations adapting/responding to the multiple/converging forces influencing so much change?
Today, obviously, times are turbulent and those companies that are playing it safe by sticking to traditional ways are actually putting themselves more at risk. Even the most tried and true methods and the seemingly most guaranteed markets must be reexamined. I like to ask, if you had to build it today from scratch, how would you do it differently.
People are being forced to be more adaptive. They must examine the function of their work and sort out the routine. Everything routine can be easily replaced but it’s our uniqueness that provides our real value. Knowing our personality type lets people know how they are unique – Maybe for the first time since before the industrial revolution, its our differences, our unique touch that make us most valuable.
Another important trend is firms are becoming more socially responsible and certain personalities are more in tuned with this than others. Change means taking the stakeholders into account and when this is done, friction is removed.
7. Painting Inspiration
Q: What inspired you to start painting? Do you have a favorite piece of artwork that you have created? If so, why is it your favorite?
David: I had always painted as a kid and considered going to college for art but instead decided to study the sciences and also earn an MBA. Later, while running my business, I found that I wanted to get back into painting in the evenings to unwind. I hung some on my walls and happened to throw some big parties where people noticed my artwork and encouraged me by asking to buy them.
But it’s not about selling. When I’m painting regularly, I’m making connections with shapes and ideas and I find that it carries over. When I’m experiencing the world, I have a heightened sense of connecting and it makes everything more interesting.
I have many favorites, some for technical reasons and others because they remind me of places I’ve visited. This one of the Brooklyn Bridge reminds me of an early morning sunrise that I experienced after visiting the old Fulton Fish Market, just days before it closed. The painting itself is mostly about making connections with dark shapes but it was painted while I was in Asia and was on display at one of my Hong Kong shows.
I’m most proud of my commission from the Pan American Health Organization to paint their symbol for World Health Day and they asked me to speak about human rights at their headquarters in Washington before a worldwide audience. It gave me the chance to do something that I love, like painting while promoting an important message such as protecting human rights — this is the best kind of work there can be!
image credit: Atria Books/Beyond Words
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Lynda Koster is the Programs Partner and Integrator 3.0 for Innovation Excellence. Living and working at the intersection of creativity, data and technology, her core expertise is strategic development and implementation planning, providing integrated business, and marketing solutions to clients. She is a hands-on explorer and life-long learner focused on new and evolving trends and innovations that impact the future of business, marketing and people. She is author of Business Reads Today.
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