Surprise! Analytical thinkers are creative too

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I once sat down with a remarkably talented team of web professionals to discuss the importance of innovation in their market.

After going over several points specifically about how the internet makes it easier than ever to be creative and move technology and sales-points forward, I concluded that each of the team needed to step up their game and pursue creative possibilities if they wanted to succeed.

Their response? “But we’re not creative.”

Of course, everyone is creative. It’s just a matter of how creative an individual wants to be that affects situations like the one I was in with this team. They were intuitively creative, but no more than that, and they weren’t interested in being any more creative than they had to be.

When I pressed further the team spoke of “being analytical,” and relying on data and technical information to make their decisions.

So I nodded my head in understanding and then said this: creative decisions based on analytical data are great examples of what creativity can be.

When you look at statistical information, at the technical side of anything, and really evaluate the trends and data that you’re seeing, you’re essentially marking definitive lines in possibilities. You’re propelling yourself towards creative ideas by evaluating information.

If you see a bit of information that clearly says something about what you’ve been doing in the past, you’re guaranteed to get insights into what to try moving forward. That’s creativity. When you start looking at what’s historically worked for you and your projects, you’re going to undoubtedly start asking questions about that data, such as “What if we tried this?” and “How can we improve this?” and “What is the best way to do this?”

The artist that scores and evaluates her artwork will be inspired by the data and know what to work on next. The writer that regularly seeks feedback from readers will have a multitude of ways to improve his work. The teacher that solicits feedback about assignments from students will gain a creative understanding of new things to try the next time around.

Just because someone is a straight–forward analytical thinker doesn’t mean that they can’t be creative too. In-fact: looking through analytical data is one of the best ways to come up with new, creative ideas.

Illustration via Ivan Walsh.