Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The term 'Creative Generalist' is shite...

The term 'Creative Generalist' means "curious divergent thinkers who appreciate new ideas from a wide mix of sources" as coined by Steve Hardy...whose blog can be found here.

It's a great blog, no doubt about it. But I want to take issue with the notion that it defines planners.

I'm a subscriber to Stanley Pollitt's approach to planning. Not Steven King's. Whilst great planning must be rigorous, derived from a wide variety of sources; a science it is not. True research is far closer to that.

As a planner padwan (I'm claiming that one as my own), I prefer the term 'Creative Planner'. I come up with ideas founded in an essential truth, try to back them up and if it doesn't work, break the wall down and start again. Or try and catch another ferret/idea..

Bet you wondered about the image.

Account planners DO have to focus on one thing. Being too much of a Creative Generalist means that you're no good at condensing things down.

Whereas being a Creative Planner means you keep all the rigorous thinking, but focus it around ideas. Too much creativity and you lose focus (and this, I feel, is how the argument about blogging vs planning came about - oooh, rampant random thoughts from planners! This CAN'T be happening!), but always having it around you is just right.

Don't get me wrong, planners have to be interesting and interested in a wide variety of things; and yes, the best planners are like this. But sometimes you have to be able to turn it off.

Anyway. Anyone have any thoughts?


Steve Hardy said...

Actually, Will, I coined the term to ideally balance focus and breadth: http://creativegeneralist.blogspot.com/2005/06/two-sides-of-same-coin.html

Will said...

Steve - for some reason the link isn't working.

(And I didn't expect you to comment - I am humbled).

As a term to describe a planner, I have a bit of a problem with it - as a term for how people would ideally think in life, I think it's fantastic.

I've said more on your blog (cut 'n' pasted here):


I like the chart on the link.

However, I still have problems with taking 'creative generalism' to its logical conclusion - I worry that it would lead to wooly thinking and that you'd lose the clarity of thought that marks out the best planners.

Your definition points towards a kind of middle ground, which is fine. I don't have a problem with that. It's just if planners believe in creative generalism too much (or rather, become obsessed with a wide variety of things), it leads to shite, poorly focused thinking.

It's more a warning against being TOO broad. Your definition - no problem with that. I will retract my critique of your term.

Rob @ Cynic said...

That's the spirit Will ... keep it up ...

Marcus Brown said...

like the look of this Will.

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