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'How An Executive Can Spot Creative Potential in Others'
by Sir Jon Weaver

One of the most important responsibilities any executive
must handle is seeing that his company gets "the most" from
its workers. This is particularly so when it comes to
creativeness- the production of the ideas upon which the
company is dependent to make money, or to operate
efficiently and at a profit.

Most of us, in our everyday lives, make the mistake of
oversimplifying our classifications of others. We say
someone is "likable" or "not likable." We call him a
"pessimist" or an "optimist." We decide a certain worker is
"responsible" or "irresponsible." A man is either "loyal" to
the company or he is "disloyal." Our definitions are all
black or white-we have no "gray scales" for in-betweens.

However, most people, upon careful analysis, fall into the
gray area between black and white. And this complicates the
job of the executive who is trying to make certain that his
company is making the most of the creative potential at its
disposal.

The problem of spotting creative potential is also
complicated by the fact that people do not always think up
to their capacities. It is relatively easy to spot the
highly creative person who is using his ability actively and
conclusively to its fullest extent. But what do you look for
when trying to spot a creative person who is not living up
to their potential?

It has been said that "Creativity is best revealed by what
it creates." There is certainly a great deal of truth in
this. But the practice of looking only at achievement for
determining creative potential can cause an executive to
overlook many potentially good creative workers who have
never had either the inclination or the opportunity to
reveal themselves as being creative.

Most suggestions for informal observing and testing to spot
creative potential are based on the outward signs of the
basic creative characteristics and the thinking patterns of
creative people. This puts quite a responsibility upon
anyone trying to screen people for creative potential,
because so much is dependent upon the observation and
correct interpretation of the basic "signs." However, here
are some general personality traits to look for:

1. The Observant Person. Generally, a person who is highly
alert to what is around him, who sees details and
relationships that others miss, has a great advantage in
developing creative potential.

2. Knowledge. New ideas are usually combinations of old
ideas, or old ideas in new forms. The greater a person's
knowledge about his field, the greater his potential
creativeness. Remember that field knowledge may be acquired
through related experience or on-the-job instruction-it does
not necessarily have to be from schooling. It is relatively
easy to determine a person's knowledge of his job, field,
company, or industry.

3. A Good Memory. This is a part of the acquisition of
knowledge, but becomes more important in the less formal
types of knowledge. The man who can remember an odd-shaped
piece of metal he saw in the storage room at just the time
such a piece is needed, may be indicating the kind of "odds-
and-ends" memory that frequently typifies a creative mind.

4. The Curious Person. This is an easy-to-spot trait and a
key one to be alert for in another person. Chances are
anyone without curiosity will not have a very high degree of
creative potential. It is important, however, to distinguish
between true creative curiosity and the idle type of
questioning that only serves as conversation. ("How's the
weather outside?" or "Where did you have lunch today?")

6. The Skeptic. In evaluating this quality, it is important
to evaluate the quality or motivation of the skepticism. The
creative skeptic doubts many things-particularly the obvious
things that everyone else accepts perhaps too readily. The
noncreative skeptic has destruction or belittlement as his
motivation. The two can usually be distinguished by an
adroit question or two. The non-creative skeptic will
usually assume that things are going from bad to worse and
nothing can be done about it, so why try? The creative
skeptic normally feels that no matter how bad or how wrong
something is, it can always be made better. He may even have
some ready suggestions for betterment.

It should also be remembered that few of these "types" of
personalities will ever be found in a "pure" state. They
have been set out as individuals here to make it easier to
distinguish among them. But many people will be mixtures and
composites of any or all of these to varying degrees. The
mere presence of one such trait, then, is probably not
enough to immediately classify a person as "potentially
creative."

The detection of several or many such traits, however,
should at least give the executive cause to go out of his
"way to really get acquainted with the worker. The result of
further acquaintance may be the happy discovery of still
another mind capable of coping with the company's problems
in an imaginative way.

by Sir Jon Weaver

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