There are as many "types" of creators as their are people. Over the years, I have seen a lot of different ways to classify types of creators (and even developed some of my own). These classifications emerged from someone observing and/or researching reoccurring patterns of behavior or being-ness in creative process...and are quite limiting. I prefer to let go of the labels or let new ones, through a discovery process, emerge from within the individual, group or organization to reflect who's in the room.
With that said, there is the famous George E.P. Box adage, "All models are wrong, but some are useful." While people are more multi-dimensional and complex than classifications can include, they can be useful at times: as an entry point of dialogue, to establish an initial common language - particularly in a "devil's advocate"-centric work culture; and to help team members value what diverse creative styles bring to a process - the essential and unique contribution each brings to a co-creative process - among other things. The following are certain reoccurring patterns of innovative personas Tom Kelly observed in his work at IDEO, one of the world's largest design firms. Found in the October 2005 issue of Fast Company magazine and this month's Creativity Fringes newsletter:
Tom Kelly, the general manager of the famous design company Ideo has a negative view of negative thinkers and obstructionists who fancy themselves as “devil’s advocates,” and says “Every day, thousands of great new ideas, concepts and plans are nipped in the bud by devil’s advocates.” To put these devil’s advocates in their place, he suggests your organization adopt the following ten “people-centric tools, talents or personas for innovation.”
There are three “learning” personas: the Anthropologist observes human behavior to see how people actually interact with products, services and spaces; the Experimenter does continuous trial-and-error prototyping of new ideas; the Cross-Pollinator explores other industries and cultures to find new ideas.
There are three “organizing” personas: the Hurdler knows how to bend organizational rules to get around roadblocks to new ideas; the Collaborator works with others to create new combinations and multidisciplinary solutions; the Director assembles a talented cast and helps spark their creativity.
Finally, there are four “building” personas: the Experience Architect who designs compelling experiences for the customer; the Set Designer creates a stage on which innovation team members can do their best work; the Caregiver anticipates customer needs and is ready to look after them; the Storyteller builds internal morale and external awareness through narratives explaining what the company is all about.
Kelly explains that the personas are about “being innovation” rather than merely “doing innovation,” and says they can be used to keep the company devil’s advocate in his or her place.