The Eight Creative Talents and Questions

When Bob Tiede sent me an email letting me know he had added my  post “Leading with Questions”  as a guest post on his blog this past March,  he added,” If you write any more posts about questions, let me know.”  His comment started me thinking. 

While the eight creative talents are used primarily to help individuals and teams identify HOW they are creative, they have other applications.  They are based on Carl Jung’s model of psychological types, which identify eight different ways individuals take in and process data.  The way we see data and information and then decide what to do with that information affects not only our creative outcomes and contributions.  These processes also impact our leadership and communication styles, our approach to innovation and strategic planning, and to the types of questions we ask – the topic of this post.

Here is just a sample of how the talents impact our questions:

Because the Navigator data collecting talent focuses on what has been done before and on details and specifics, this talent typically asks:  “Where’s the evidence?” “What’s the history of the problem?”

The Adventurer data collecting talent also prefers specifics and details, but pays more attention to the shapes, sizes, smells, tastes and textures of the here and now.  Adventurer-type questions are:  “What does the problem look, smell, taste, feel like?”  Or, “Show me what is happening, when, where and how.”

The Explorer data collecting talent focuses on the near future and sees data in terms of concepts and patterns, so questions from this talent typically are:  “How else could we see or do this?”  “What would happen if…?”

The Visionary data collecting talent is even more future oriented when looking at concepts and the big picture and will ask questions like:  “What does the future look like ten years from now?”  “What trends and patterns should we be studying?”

The Pilot and Inventor decision-making talents tend to ask quantitative objective questions around results, such as “Why are we doing this?”  “What do we want to achieve?”  “What framework or categories will help us understand the problem?”  And since these talents tend to see life as black or white, they often ask “Yes/No” type questions.

The Diplomat and Poet decision-making talents, on the other hand, normally ask questions that revolve around people: “Who is involved or not involved?”  “How do we get them on board in order to implement the change or initiative?” “What’s important to everyone involved?” And they can also be great at coming up with “both/and” type questions in their attempt to include everyone in the outcome.

What do we do with this information to help us ask better questions and improve our decision making?  There are at least three steps to take:

  1. First, since most of us tend to favor one or two of the eight creative talents, we need be aware of any biases that our favorite talents can be causing in the questions we ask.
  2. Then, remember we have all eight talents within us.  Therefore, when we start to ask questions, it’s really important to stop and determine “What does the situation call for in terms of questions?”  Is it a routine situation calling for a detailed response?  Or a more complicated question requiring more big-picture thinking and more involvement from a larger community of stakeholders?
  3. Next, we can tap into our non-favorite talents to see things differently, expand our creative responses, and heighten our flexibility when dealing with problems.

Since the questions we ask frame the answers we will get, you may want to flex into non-favorite talents to help see what you are not seeing.  You may want to make a checklist of good questions that belong to the other talents to ensure you are asking questions from many different perspectives.  For more on the eight creative talents

What techniques do you use to broaden your question-making repertoire?


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