Ideation: Thinking Outside of the Box

By: Zach [Competition | Ideation | Individualization | Significance | Strategic]

My close buddy, Benjamin Franklin, once told me, “To cease to think creatively is but little different from ceasing to live”… Ok, so maybe I did not get to hear those words from him personally, but when I hear that statement, the big light bulb goes off above my head!

I hope you are tuning in right now because you’re interested in hearing more about my favorite, and what I believe to be one of the most important strengths as reflected from CliftonStrengths for Students, and that is ideation. Most simply spoken by the assessment itself, People especially talented in the Ideation theme are fascinated by ideas. They are able to find connections between seemingly disparate phenomena.

CliftonStrengths for Students - Ideation


But what does this mean?

To me, it means I derive my energy and passion for “outside of the box” thinking. I feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment when I discover a simple solution to a seemingly complex problem. It means my mind is always racing to find connections and links, especially when it concerns obscure concepts. People with ideation revel in taking the world we all know and turning it around so we can view it from a strange but strangely enlightening angle. It’s all about looking through a different lens and finding a new and pioneering solution to the problem that seemed it would never be solved. It also means we are never satisfied for long. The world around us is continuously changing, and with society and technology exponentially growing, the cycle will continue forever.

If we wanted to take a look at how ideation transfers to the workplace, there are many aspects to look at (source: CliftonStrengths for Students):

  • Environments that allow you to have freedom and experimentation, as well as time and space, will truly highlight your ability.
  • Select organizations where supervisors encourage your external thinking. Most employers will look for this in candidates when they are seeking new approaches and change to their current processes.
  • Be sure to avoid positions that will lock your creative thinking and that require regimented routine or attention to detail. Ideation thinkers do not feel comfortable in limited and task-oriented positions such as these.
  • Most importantly, do research, and seek out positions where creativity is important. People with ideation as one of their top skills enjoy positions such as strategic planning, consulting, market researching, designing, advertising, etc.

If we take one last look at my close companion, Benjamin Franklin, we can see a very eccentric thinker. When asked, most will say, “oh, isn’t he the guy that invented electricity?” First, when I hear that, I will be sure to correct you. Electricity was not invented. However, he was a pioneer in understanding its scientific properties and how it could be utilized. Besides his exploration in the sciences he was also a respected renaissance man, leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, musician, inventor, satirist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat… just to name a few. This man was the epitome of the word ideation! His accomplishments within many diverse fields exceeded many of his peers’ expectations of him, however, he was quick to look over his success because he knew there was always more to learn and always a new solution.

This is how I view ideation. Information and education are endless, and as long as we as a society are living, there will always be change, and therefore a new solution to everything. It is a skill that requires one to ask questions, form an understanding, and apply that knowledge to create a new and successful solution… but not for long!

Take CliftonStrengths for Students through our office.

Check out the 33 other Strengths.

Read Zach’s other posts.

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