How Creative Are You?

Test your workplace creativity skills!

© iStockphoto/fpm

If the idea of being creative at work makes you think of artistic talent, don't worry!

Business creativity is all about finding fresh and innovative solutions to problems, and identifying opportunities to improve the way that we do things.

As such, anyone can be creative, just as long as they have the right mindset and use the right tools.

This test helps you to think about how creative you are right now. Take it, and then use the tools and discussions that follow to bring intense creativity to your everyday work.

How Creative Are You?


For each statement, click the button in the column that best describes you. Please answer questions as you actually are (rather than how you think you should be), and don't worry if some questions seem to score in the 'wrong direction'. When you are finished, please click the 'Calculate My Total' button at the bottom of the test.

Your last quiz results are shown.

You last completed this quiz on , at .

16 Statements to Answer

Not at All Rarely Sometimes Often Very Often
1 Creative people should specialize in coming up with lots of ideas. Other people should then implement these.
2 If I have a problem, I allow myself to back off active problem solving, and I create some mental distance between myself and the issue.
3 When I'm coming up with ideas, I find myself using phrases like "we can't" or "we don't."
4 I'm busy. As soon as I have a good idea, I move forward with implementation.
5 I gather information from a wide variety of sources to stay current with what's happening in my field of work.
6 I see problems, complaints, and bottlenecks as opportunities rather than as issues.
7 When solving a problem, I try to rethink my current understanding of an issue to develop a deeper insight into it.
8 I often ignore good ideas because I don't have the resources to implement them.
9 I find problems and issues distracting. They cause me to lose focus on my real work.
10 I'm confident that I can develop creative ideas to solve problems, and I'm motivated to implement solutions.
11 I take time to investigate how things are working, even when there are no current problems.
12 I always look for the causes of problems, so that I can understand what's really going on.
13 I look for things in my environment to inspire me to find new interpretations of problems.
14 I focus on issues that are important right now, preferring to worry about future problems as they arise.
15 When gathering information about an issue, I explore solutions that have worked elsewhere in the past.
16 When I generate ideas, I evaluate them and I quickly discard ideas that I don't like.
Total = 0

Score Interpretation

Score Comment

You're unsure of your creative talent. Maybe you haven't been given opportunities to be creative, or maybe you're convinced that you're simply not a creative person. Either way, look for opportunities to improve how you do things, even if you don't have any current problems. Use the discussion and resources below to be more creative – you'll be surprised by how creative you can be if you give yourself a chance! (Read below to start.)


Your creativity is a "work in progress." You've had some successes, so now it's time to let loose and stretch yourself. Share your ideas and perspectives with others, and ask them how they view problems. Adopt a collaborative approach to problem finding, and work actively with others to create and innovate. The tools and resources below will help you get to the next level of creativity. (Read below to start.)


Creativity is one of your strengths, and innovative and creative minds are highly sought after. So don't hide your ability! Look for ways to share your creativity process with others. Engage colleagues and teammates in creative pursuits, and promote creativity in your team and organization. And remember that you can always be more creative – so use the tools and discussion below to fulfill your creative potential! (Read below to start.)

Boosting Your Creativity Ability

In his well-respected book, "Creativity," Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi says that an effective creative process usually consists of five steps. These are:

  1. Preparation – becoming immersed in problems and issues that are interesting and that arouse curiosity.
  2. Incubation – allowing ideas to turn around in your mind without thinking about them consciously.
  3. Insight – experiencing the moment when the problem makes sense, and you understand the fundamental issue.
  4. Evaluation – taking time to make sure that the insight provides sufficient value to outweigh the various costs involved in implementation.
  5. Elaboration – creating a plan to implement the solution, and following through.

We've mapped these five steps onto the process below. This provides a clear and practical way for you to think about creativity, and to use it in your everyday life at work.

1. Finding Problems (Preparation)

(Questions 6, 9, 11, 14, 15)

Your score is 0 out of 0  

Creative people don't sit and allow problems to surface. Instead, they scan their environment for potential issues, and they see this as time well spent. Also, they're excited by the opportunity to change things. They aren't intimidated by change; they embrace it.

To develop your creative skills, you need to adopt a positive attitude towards change, and take an active role in identifying opportunities and looking for potential issues. To do this, challenge your business processes using Failure Modes and Effects Analysis  , and look for bottlenecks   in these processes. Carry out SWOT   and PEST   analyses on a regular basis. Keep up-to-date with customer experiences   and expectations, and try to spot problems from other people's perspectives.

Also, engage in benchmarking   to find out how well others are addressing similar issues, and look at the issue from a wide range of perspectives. Then, analyze your findings to ensure that a real problem does exist. This fact-finding activity can save you a great deal of time later on, and will help ensure that you only act on the most relevant problems and issues.

Look first for problems and potential issues that interest you. These are the things you'll be most motivated to pursue when you're learning to solve problems creatively. Then, as you become more confident, challenge yourself to investigate issues that are more complex.

2. Gathering and Reflecting on Information (Incubation)

(Questions 2, 5)

Your score is 0 out of 0  

When you have a potential issue or problem, gather as much information   about it as you can. As part of this, investigate solutions that have been tried previously (both in your own organization, and in other areas), and identify ideas that might have surfaced, but were never acted on.

At this stage it's also a good idea to step away from the problem for a while, and allow new thoughts and ideas to enter your mind. When we concentrate on one issue for too long there is a tendency to latch onto one or two ideas, and this can block other good ideas. (One of the benefits of being proactive in your problem-finding is that you have time to incubate ideas, rather than being pressurized to find an immediate solution to a problem.)

3. Problem Exploration (Insight)

(Questions 3, 7, 12)

Your score is 0 out of 0  

Once you've identified and verified your problem, you can figure out what's really going on. Often, the initial problem that you identified will turn out to be a symptom of a deeper problem. Therefore, identifying the root cause of the problem is extremely important.

When you do this, you'll find that techniques like CATWOE  , Drill Down  , the 5 Whys  , Cause and Effect Analysis  , and Root Cause Analysis   are all very effective. While creativity may invoke ideas of spontaneous insight and far-out inspiration, the truth is that being creative in the workplace is rooted in a practical understanding of the situation at hand.

Don't, however, be so practical that you become negative. What often separates creative people from others is the ability to see past potential barriers, and believe in their insights. For instance, you could easily dismiss a great insight by saying, "Oh that could never be the problem!" But, you won't ever know if something is contributing to a problem unless you allow yourself to explore the possibility. That's what creative problem exploration is all about – being open to all ideas and possibilities.

4. Generating and Evaluating Ideas (Evaluation)

(Questions 4, 13, 16)

Your score is 0 out of 0  

When you have clear insight into the cause of the issue, you can move onto generating ideas for a solution. Here you want to look for as many ways to inspire ideas as possible. Brainstorming, Reverse Brainstorming   and Starbursting   are popular for this, however these can be undermined by problems with group dynamics. Techniques like Brainwriting  , Round-Robin Brainstorming   and the Charette Procedure   can help you circumvent common problems.

You can also enrich your ideas by using tools like the Six Thinking Hats, Random Input  , the Reframing Matrix   and Metaphorical Thinking   to look at problems from different perspectives.

Obviously not all of the ideas you have will be practical or possible. So, as part of this step in the creativity process, you need to decide which criteria you'll use to evaluate your ideas. (Without a solid evaluation process, you'll be prone to choosing a solution that is perhaps too cautious.)

There are a wide range of tools you can use for the evaluation, including:

5. Implementation (Elaboration)

(Questions 1, 8, 10)

Your score is 0 out of 0  

A common misconception is that creative people spend all their time thinking of new and interesting ideas. In fact, truly creative people recognize a good idea and run with it. A famous Thomas Edison quote supports this: "Creativity is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration."

For this final step, you need to be committed to taking your ideas and making them happen, and you need to be confident that you can, indeed, propose innovative ideas and inspire change.

To implement your ideas successfully, develop a solid plan, using action plans   for simple projects, and more formal project management techniques for larger, more complex projects. You'll also need to be able to sell your idea to others in your organization. If your idea is likely to affect other people, you'll want to develop strong change management skills   so that the people around you accept and use the products of your creativity.

Once you bring one idea through to successful implementation, you'll be motivated and inspired to repeat the process again and again!

Key Points

In the workplace, some people are naturally more creative than others. However, that doesn't mean that we can't all learn to be more creative, and use creativity enhancing tools and techniques in our daily lives.

At its core, creativity is the ability to see familiar things in a new light, and the first step to being more creative is training yourself to look for opportunities to improve the systems and processes around you.

Then gather information, find the main cause of issues and problems, and generate and evaluate your ideas. And don't forget that the mundane work of implementing your ideas is key to being genuinely creative!

This site teaches you the skills you need for a happy and successful career; and this is just one of many tools and resources that you'll find here at Mind Tools. Click here for more, subscribe to our free newsletter, or become a member for just $1.

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Comments (10)
  • kylefleming007 wrote This month
    My ability to look at a problems from a different perspective is often taken as arrogance, and sometimes I have been accused of not being a team player... does this mean i am working in a hostile environment?
  • Sarah.P wrote This month
    Hi rsheehan69,

    61 is a good score! That sounds like a great way to improve your creativity. I'm glad you found the quiz useful. Let us know how you get on!

    Sarah (Mind Tools Team)
  • rsheehan69 wrote This month
    I scored a 61, my biggest area of development is in evaluation. From this assessment I will try to look at the decisions more closely to make sure there is not a better or more creative solution.
  • StellaOnTheRun wrote Over a month ago
    This is a very interesting idea.

    Is it the chaotic surroundings that makes us get more insights, or the fact that chaotic people will be "better" at divergent thinking?

    If it is true that 90% of the thoughts we have today are the same as yesterday, it is not a surprise that most of us are not really creative.
    I personally believe that being creative very much depends on how good we are at forcing ourselves to not think the same thoughts over and over and over.
    Chaotic environments usually belong to people who don't need to categorize and organize the world around them... putting the same things on the same place as yesterday and the day before...


    “All this fires in my soul, and—provided I am not disturbed—my subject enlarges itself, becomes methodized and defined, and in the whole, though it be long, stands almost complete and finished in my mind, so that I can survey it, like a fine picture or a beautiful statue, at a glance…” —Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • fxgg090 wrote Over a month ago
  • Dianna wrote Over a month ago
    I've read about the link between chaotic environments and creativity. It's interesting and it makes sense. I think that people can tap into their creativity by forcing the chaos so to speak. You don't need to live with a messy desk and crazy office but you can put post it notes all over the place, create a chaos on the white board, put on a bunch of different hats and see different perspectives. It's about forcing the mind out of its routine.

  • fxgg090 wrote Over a month ago
    Creativity has to do with:

    a) Imagination
    b) Intention
    c) Lack of order or mixed ideas
    d) Need to solve some issue or find a new way.

    In a new study I read they said people with disorder offices or rooms are highly creative, it seems as if order is not for very creative people, chaos allows to see changes, and different perspectives of the same issue.

    Being creative is also a need, to find a new way to start or continue something, or to solve a problem, creativity I think allows people to relax, to know something is coming up positive to help other's, creative people could not always be adapted or accepted by less creative or non creative groups.
  • Dianna wrote Over a month ago
    Great to hear suemind! We like the quiz format too. Any areas of concern or challenge that we can help you with? Let us know. We are here to support your development and help you tackle specific challenges.

    I look forward to seeing you around the forums.

  • suemind wrote Over a month ago
    I found this a great tool to use as it breaks it down to understand at which point you need to focus on.

    Thanks Mind Tools!
  • april123 wrote Over a month ago
    Great quiz & explanations. I know that my weakness lies not in being creative, but in implementing! I will sit and think up new ideas all day long, but prefer giving them to someone else to implement. And then I get impatient if they don't do it right! I really exasperate myself sometimes!

    I believe in not being afraid to explore your own mind. Sometimes we just don't think because we were taught to be followers, but we have a lot of creativity locked up inside us. Being in re-engineering, we are confronted with finding new creative solutions and thinking up ideas every day. The more you have to do it, the better you become at it.


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