How to include introverts in the creative process.

I recently came across an interesting book – ‘Quiet: the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking’ by Susan Cain. Introversion has been defined as “the state of or tendency toward being wholly or predominantly concerned with and interested in one’s own mental life” whilst extraversion is “the act, state, or habit of being predominantly concerned with obtaining gratification from what is outside the self”. Famous self-confessed introverts include JK Rowling and Eleanor Roosevelt, people who say they are at their best when alone. Cain is an introvert in a world that she argues values extroverts more – we champion the outgoing and talkative as our leaders and our bosses and can ignore or overlook the more reserved, solitary, quiet ones. This is very true in many organisations, particularly in PR agencies, and in a traditional group brainstorm he/she who shouts loudest and dominates is often the person whose ideas get heard. But group brainstorms don’t work well for introverts and with the majority of businesses still saying this is how they generate ideas how can you going to ensure that introverts can contribute their creative ideas?

  • Run a silent brainstorm – ask people to think about the problem for 5 minutes in silence or play music but no discussion – yet. Ask participants to write down their ideas one per post it.
  • Ask everyone to put their post its on the wall – either silently or saying the ideas as they go up. The facilitator can group the themes / ideas and build on them.
  • Work in creative pairs or groups of 3 – space to input but mitigating dominant personalities.
  • Don’t rely on a group session – post the topic in a high traffic area like the kitchen and ask people to write their ideas whilst they wait for the kettle to boil – allows for incubation or noodling time too.
  • Share the topic in advance of a group session to allow for reflection and open a feedback loop for afterwards too – email or whiteboards in the office.
  • Acknowledge the value of different types if thinkers – creativity thrives on diversity.
  • For introverts group work can be mentally exhausting – keep sessions short – what about a 15 minute creative blast?

At Now Go Create we’re experts in the creative process. Contact us if you want to find out more about how to involve everyone in your organisation in generating ideas.

Written by Claire Bridges, Founder of Creative Consultancy Now Go Create, Judge at this year’s Cannes Lions PR Jury. Claire is an ex-WPP Consumer MD with 20 years PR experience. We demystify creativity & fear of the blank page via creative training courses for business.

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