3 Easy Criteria To Detect The Most Innovative People In Your Company

How to sniff out your most creative employees


In my seminars I have invited a few hundred participants to close their eyes and imagine that they are on the beach. After ten seconds I ask them to describe what they imagine. Then I ask them to shut their eyes and imagine that they are on planet Pluto.

What is always remarkable is how similar the descriptions of the beach and sea are among the participants and how different the Pluto experiences are. Why do you think this happens? Because we have all been to the beach, and we have all experienced sand, heat and sea water. None of us have experienced stepping onto the surface of Pluto. What we know about going to the beach is an experience gained, what we know about Pluto is an accumulation of bits of information and different images each of us have seen and heard in the media. So in which of the two cases, do people show more imagination?

'Imagination is as effortless as perception, unless we think it might be 'wrong', which is what our education encourages us to believe' - Keith Johnstone 

Innovators and creative people have different convictions to most; they believe in the openness and diversity of thinking. They believe each human being is valuable and good by nature – therefore they are able to listen in a profound way to opinions divergent to their own. They believe it is good to talk to and listen to people different from themselves. They think each problem is an opportunity not an obstacle. This is because they believe there is someone able to creatively find a solution for anything.

Beliefs leading to creativity may be learned, modeled, copied and forgotten. Modeling creativity is a natural process in kids and youngsters, but a limited one in adults. A child learns to walk, talk, write and read in a universe unknown to them, modeling the ones around them. Many of us renounce this, sometimes in a subconscious way when copying good behaviors, beliefs and being inspired by results around us.

Therefore, here are the 3 criteria to detect innovation.

So, the first criterion to detect the innovative, imaginative, creative people in your workplace is to choose people who believe themselves to be creative, who prove themselves as having a great imagination and who are proactive towards problems and want to solve them. They are curious, embrace the unexpected and believe in self-motivation. These people consider each problem a challenge.

The second criterion is the rebellious attitude of certain employees. Basically, as a leader, you must make sure that the internal regulations of your firm allow the employees to use their imagination and to speak freely. Encourage the development of attitudes and creative beliefs and offer, above all, a motivated and inspiring vision in regards to their purpose within the firm and the purpose of the firm itself. But, why is this the case? 'rebellious' people tend to adapt the environment to create a greater freedom of thinking.

The third criterion refers to selecting people with a relaxed (even non-existent) set of solid and strong beliefs about the world, life and creativity. This shows that they have the potential to be full of open, non-judgemental beliefs. 

'You are not imaginatively impotent until you are dead; you are only frozen up. Switch off the no-saying intellect and welcome the unconscious as a friend: it will lead you to places you never dreamed of, and produce results more 'original' than anything you could achieve by aiming at originality' - Keith Johnstone


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