Friday, November 12, 2010

Predicting the unpredictable--part one

The following article is by By Dr Amantha Imber  and it deals wih the idea about what makes a person creative at work and I would submit creative in their social and personal live.

About 12 months ago, we set out to see if it was possible to do what was previously thought to be impossible - accurately predicting whether a person would be an effective creative thinker at work. To our knowledge, there was not a single scientifically validated process to do this. We found that in the majority of cases, most companies were not using any method for assessing creativity, despite claiming it to be a critical competency for staff to possess.

There were a couple of exceptions. In “creative industries”, such as advertising and design, recruiters would typically look at a job applicant’s portfolio of past work to see how creative they were. Of course, we all know people’s tendencies to stretch the truth. I used to work at the advertising agency that came up with the idea for Earth Hour. And despite the fact that only one person came up with the idea, I heard about many people from the agency claiming that they were the one who gave birth to this idea and had put it in their portfolio.

In other industries, creative thinking is sometimes assessed by giving people a difficult problem to solve and observing how they answer the problem. For example, Microsoft famously ask job applicants how they would move Mount Fuji, and use people’s answers as a test as to how creative they are. However, this process has never been scientifically validated and is only testing a small component of workplace creativity.

So 12 months after we set ourselves the challenge of measuring the unmeasurable. We tested over 1300 people, across industries as diverse as advertising to engineering, through to insurance. And we have found out that yes, we could indeed predict a person’s ability to think creatively and work. Moreover, we could do so extremely accurately. It was all a matter of identifying the right variables to measure.

There are several components to creative thinking that we found that our test could predict. These included a person’s ability to:

  • generate new and effective solutions.
  • collaborate well with others.
  • sell and communicate ideas to others.
  • think creatively under stressful situations. 
 Our test incorporated over 25 “predictors” - things that we knew were predictive of creative performance as shown by leading researchers in the field. Here are some of the variables that came out as the top predictors of creative performance in the workplace that you can use to help your own predictive powers.

1. Openness to Experience 
There are hundreds of different personality traits, but we found that there was one trait in particular that was most predictive of creative performance. This trait, called ‘Openness to Experience’ is all about our inclination to seek out and appreciate new experiences. People who score high on this trait tend to enjoy having a lot of variety in their life, have a high level of curiosity, and use their imagination a lot. As a result, they perform significantly more creatively at work. 

If you want to try to foster this trait in yourself or in others, start by becoming consciously aware of routines that you have in your life - it might be reading the same types of magazines, gravitating towards the same types of movies or restaurants - and actively encourage yourself to try something different. Being open to experiencing new activities, and following through on this, will help improve your openness to experience and thus significantly boost your creative performance.

About the Author 

 Dr Amantha Imber is the Founder of Inventium and the inventor of the Inventium Creative Aptitude Tool, the world’s first psychometric tool designed to measure and predict creativity at work. Amantha can be contacted on or go to

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