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Think back to the last time you got people together for an idea generation session. Chances are the usual suspects were in involved, the same old people who are pulled on time and time again to solve problems. Perhaps they might be people from your team who are easy to work with, or perhaps they are subject matter experts to the problem.

However, selecting people based on ease or subject matter expertise is just one piece of the puzzle. You need to avoid falling into the “usual suspects” trap when curating idea generation participants.

Research has shown that you can dramatically increase group idea generation and problem solving output, just by who you invite. Here are a few traits to consider when identifying your creative dynamos:

  • Openness to experience. This is a personality dimension that is characteristic of individuals who are inclined to use their imagination; harness intellectual curiosity; and prefer variety.
  • Aspiration focused. This is a motivation dimension that is characteristic of people who are positive, future-oriented and focused on what is possible.
  • Creative ability. This is all about those ‘ideas people’, who are often coming up with many diverse ideas. The ability to make novel connections between seemingly unrelated things is very valuable.

If you really want to get serious about identifying your organisation’s creativity super group, you can objectively measure creative aptitude. While creativity can be improved just like any other capability, some people have exceptional creative aptitudes which can be harnessed no matter their experience or expertise.

Beyond selecting people based on creative aptitude, I also recommend inviting people to your next idea generation workshop who are external to your team or even organisation. Research demonstrates that ‘externals’ break down group think and significantly increase creative output.