3 Forms of Ideation

Recently Joseph asked us to reflect on our first memory or awareness of our strengths at work. Two things from high school immediately came to mind.

The first was my freshman year of high school. A friend and I stumbled across a group of students we knew working on our classes “spirit week” festivities. Several times while we were watching them, I made comments like, “Hey, why don’t you guys do this?” “It would be cool if… I think you should…” Reflecting on this years later, I can clearly see my strength of Ideation at work.

Ideation, briefly defined says that,

People especially talented in the Ideation theme are fascinated by ideas. They are able to find connections between seemingly disparate phenomena.

A second example was later in high school, in math class. It was a smaller class, and I remember I was constantly making jokes, or witty observations about what the teacher was doing. I wasn’t being disrespectful (she seemed to enjoy it too), rather, it became sort of a game. “What weird and slightly humorous observation is Nathan going to make today?” One day I remember a classmate turning to me and saying, “who comes up with these things?

I remember feeling tremendous pride in the fact that I was making observations, and pointing out things others didn’t. I was making connections between topics that didn’t seem to go together. Sometimes to help myself (and the class) learn, other times to simply make them laugh.

Over time, my strength of Ideation has been used for far more productive things. As I reflect on the past 13 years since taking the StrengthsFinder, I now know Ideation is by far my most dominant strength.

How My Ideation Works

Since we know strengths always work in pairs (or more), I can see how Ideation changes a bit depending on what other strength it is paired with it.

Since Ideation is all about idea creation or refinement, I ideated this simple phrases to describe how mine works. It can sounds like “What about this?”, “What about This…” or “What about This!

What About This?

When I’m supplying my ideation in a “What about this?” manner, I am providing ideas in the form of questions. I toss out multiple ideas, trying to find one that makes sense in context. When paired with my Adaptability, it’s a very effective combination.

Typically this happens when I am unsure of a solution, or I’m trying to exhaust all possible scenarios and options to find the one that works best for the person or situation. I’m not necessarily looking for the absolute best ever, just something that will solve the immediate problem.

Sometimes this can be frustrating for others, because they may think I want every idea I toss out to be implemented. I have learned I need to either preface my “brainstorm” as just options, or do some internal ideating, then present the best 2 or 5 to the team.

What About This…

When I am using my “What about this…” Ideation, it is typically because I have found a solution I think is the best one, and want other people to go along with it. My Maximizer is partnering up here, because I have either solved for this type of problem before, or I have done research and know this one will work the best for this scenario. Typically this is an internal use of Ideation, not inviting others into the process

I have learned that this type of Ideation needs a lot more explanation. This is when I rely heavily on my Communication strength. In the first form of Ideation, I don’t need to explain it (yet), because I haven’t really thought it through. I can explain on the fly, and so it will probably look a little messy.

With this form of Ideation, I need to not only clearly communicate how and why I think this idea is best, but also be ready for push back. When I am able to also use my Restorative, it is a great way to dig down to find any root issues with the problem or solution.

Sometimes I get really frustrated with others when the question my idea. Since I have “figured it out,” I really just want them to go along with it.

What About This!

My “What about this!” Ideation is reserved only for a really, really good idea! Typically it is something I am very excited about because not only does it solve for today’s problem, but it solves for a problem we may be having down the road. This is when I tap into Futuristic. My Futuristic sees that we have (or are going to have) potential conflicts in the future, and so Ideation is asked to step in and find something that will work now and then.

My Futuristic can see a better future and wants the idea or solution to be the best it can be. This can be with important decisions (what house should we buy?) to insignificant ones (where should we eat lunch?). When the “What about this!” ideation is on, it is generative not only to me, but to the people in my life affected by it. It is the form of Ideation I value most because it is the form that says, “I have an idea that will make all of us happy today and tomorrow! What do you think?”

Flexible Ideation

I have also learned that I am typically not completely connected to my ideas. This isn’t because I don’t think they are good. It is because I usually want to be open to the idea that someone else could have a better idea or solution.

My Communication understands that I may not have all the information at the moment, so if something changes, I want to be prepared for that. That’s where my Adaptability really comes in handy.

Has Your Understanding of Your Strengths Changed?

Whether you took strengths last week or a decade ago, how has your understanding of them changed and grown? Share in the comments below.