I recently wrote a post on creativity and openness to experience. One of my friends, we’ll call him the Captain, commented that he didn’t think that there was anything wrong with people who liked familiarity, simplicity, closure, predictability and clear answers (that is, those who were lower in openness to experience). And I agree with him.
Which started me thinking about the different personality traits of people who are necessary to the successful introduction of any new idea. Many years ago a professor of mine introduced me to a typology of personalities. I can’t honestly remember who created this typology so my apologies for the lack of citation. But here it goes. There are four basic personality types necessary to create and implement a new idea: The Artist, the Judge, the Warrior and the Accountant.
The Artist is the visionary, the person who can put together odd facts or impressions and come up with something new. The artist is all about the novel idea. The artist is open to experiences, and unafraid of what others think of her. She is comfortable being different. She loves exploring new ideas.
The Judge is the person who is willing to think critically about an idea, to assess whether it will work, and to pass judgement on whether or not to implement the idea. The judge has strong critical thinking skills, and is willing to walk away from a cool idea if it isn’t practicable. The judge will kill someone’s dream if it doesn’t make sense.
The Warrior makes it happen. He can take an idea and develop it to a point that it can be executed with the resources available. His creativity is all about making something useful. The warrior commercializes the idea, delivers it from a wisp of an idea to something that is real and ready to use.
Finally, we have the Accountant. The accountant’s job is to assess the success of the idea once it has been implemented. She is careful, detailed oriented and good at using numbers to determine the success or failure of an idea. She isn’t necessarily open to experience, but she delivers important information. Was an idea good? Was it well executed? What can we learn from our creative process? What can we do better next time? The accountant creates closure.
I don’t know about you, but I think that there are important roles for people who are lower in openness to experience. Openness to experience entails risk taking. And I wouldn’t want my doctor, a civil engineer or my accountant to be too high on openness to experience, as there is just too high a likelihood of failure. While creativity and openness to experience aren’t the only skills and traits necessary to effectively implementing an innovation.