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6 Creative Types

6 Creative Types


A few years ago IBM asked 1,600 CEO’s—from 30 industries and 60 countries—what employee traits they most valued going forward in these fast paced and highly complex times?

The number one answer was they were looking for employees who were creative and entrepreneurial.

When I participated in IBMs follow on work—they interviewed a couple dozen creative leaders to get their responses to the research—I learned that IBM had developed a four-part taxonomy of creative types. They were offering it to their own employees to help them think about their creative and entrepreneurial qualities; they were trying to cultivate a more creative culture and understood that self-reflection is useful at the beginning of a personal development program.

As soon as I learned of the four types I began sharing them with my Duke students and with entrepreneurs and creative professionals in workshops. As I listened to how they applied these types, I added two more.

We start with IBM’s original four.

Are you…

An Explorer?  Do you express your creative qualities and entrepreneurial behaviors because you are excited by the unknown, because you love discovering new ideas or opportunities?

An Artist?  Are you motivated to be creative and entrepreneurial by a need to express your personal vision, a vision you want to share with others, whether to entertain or inform?

A Warrior?  Do you love to compete, to show you are the best, and eager to use your creatively entrepreneurial skills to win? (Duke students, by the way, self-identify with this type most readily.)

A Saint?  Are you motivated to be creative because you like to serve, you want to help others, you want to use your generative talents to help make the world a better place?

Then I added these:

An Orchestrator?  Are your creative and entrepreneurial talents those needed to recruit the right people and resources and match them up with others around the right opportunity in order to help them accomplish something great?

A Cultivator?  Do you enjoy taking on a project or organization someone has started and use your generative abilities to make it even better?

I’ve yet to find anyone who claims to be only one of these types; we are an amalgam of two or more.

After folks consider their motivations and types I urge them to do two things: To visually represent their particular mash-up of types to see what new insights are revealed. And to consider what they will do next to nurture more of the creative type they find most lacking.

And we find these types to be useful when pulling together a creative team as we attempt to have a diversity of types represented.


And always reminding you to stare at the color green for 30 seconds to improve your creative performance.


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