Why Type Knowledgeable Ideation Facilitators are More Successful Helping People Achieve Breakthroughs

by Marci Segal

Idea generating sessions are sometimes frustrating experiences. Different people have distinct and sometimes conflicting expectations of the experience and outcomes.

Facilitators who are unaware of the type framework unknowingly do their best to minimize the potential for breakthrough thinking. They ignore the needs for Introverting, fail to acknowledge and affirm contributions made with Sensing functions, and overlook Feeling function concerns. Those without type knowledge also miss what type practitioners inherently know: people of different preferences make unique and varied contributions to the “out of the box” thinking required.

In his landmark work on organizational cultures that support creativity and change, Dr. Goren Ekvall found ten interpersonal elements necessary to producing and sustaining new product innovations in the marketplace. Among those are the elements of trust and involvement

Without trust, people are suspicious of each other and refrain from sharing openly. For creative ideas to emerge, trust and openness must prevail.

Facilitators fail to gain trust when they refrain from acknowledging the differences among the people with whom they are working. Insisting that people use the extraverted Intuiting function in idea generating alone is one way of helping people to dissociate – especially if the team members are introverted intuitives and introverted sensors!

To build rapport and trust, type knowledgeable facilitators honor each of the eight functions. Doing so gives each person an opportunity to come from a function area of strength and also promotes stretching into less familiar function realms. Their leading and promoting activities that tap inner resources runs contrary to the traditional ideational group session.

Traditional idea generating belongs to the realm of the extraverting functions. Most sessions are held with people sitting around a flip chart expressing responses to idea and concept stimulus. Extraverted Thinking gives ideas for moving forward. Extraverted Feeling contributes ideas for building and maintaining relationships. Extraverted Sensing provides ideas that build on current conditions. Extraverted Intuiting proliferates ideas about connections and potentials. By covering each of these four functions in the idea generating process, the type knowledgeable facilitator is sure to involve each person.

Involvement means that each person is interested and motivated to pitch in, in a joyful and meaningful way. By using the Jungian functions, type knowledgeable facilitators focus activities that personally connect to the strength areas of each person in the team. Creative thinking comes from our areas of strength in support of our less developed functions.

Untraditional idea generating honors the introverting functions. When given the opportunity for incubation followed by expression, these functions contribute another realm of ideas and reach inside each person present to offer up the wisdom from within. Honoring Introverting functions gives full breadth to the scope of ideas offered.

Introverted Thinking presents thoughts regarding new frames for solutions. Introverted Feeling offers ideas for involving aspects of personal worth. Introverted Sensing gives ideas of what worked in the past. Introverted Intuiting conceptualizes the situation holistically.

The facilitator who knows the Jungian functions can use them competently to stimulate, encourage and welcome creative thinking during idea generating session to achieve true out of the box thinking.

What is out of the box thinking? Seeing beyond limitations, perceiving in different ways, putting new connections together, all to result in outcomes that either improve or revolutionize processes, products and procedures.

Each type perceives out of the box thinking differently and has different expectations of outcome. If past experiences have been less that favorable in these activities (particularly with introverted sensors) the facilitator may have a quite a challenging time involving them. Strategies for welcoming introverted sensors include: honoring their style of ideas rather than doing your best to force them into extraverted intuiting mode, and using step by step techniques to help them build comfortably from a place of security to one that involves higher risk.

Using the type framework gives facilitators an inside edge to help bring out the best creative ideas from groups they are leading. Type practitioners already practice the ethic of appreciating differences. They use intelligence available from their experiences to maximize the opportunities for people to be at their best.

Type practitioners know that to be at their best, people need both to express and reflect. So, they are able to moderate idea generating sessions to include experiences in both the extraverting and introverting world. They let participants know beforehand what the topic for the idea generating is, and ask them to jot some ideas down prior to the session. Then, once the idea generating begins, they ask people to report their initial ideas and allow for expression through dialogue and further brainstorming to emerge.

Organizational culture tacitly supports using criteria for Thinking function decision-making and ignores priorities so valuable to Feeling function evaluation. Creativity is defined as the capacity for initiating change. To initiate creative change facilitators must help their teams make different decisions. Using Feeling function concerns of harmony, values, and empathy may just be the shift in thinking that promotes true and meaningful change.

Type knowledgeable Idea Generating Facilitators

  1. Honor participants differences and experiences
  2. Build trust and rapport through use of the type framework
  3. Use a variety of tools and techniques
  4. Are aware of their own type biases
  5. Are willing to stretch beyond their comfort zone
  6. Allow enough time for reflection and expression
  7. Know how “out of the box thinking” translates into a minimum of four different type languages.

Ekvall, G., (1995). Assessing the climate for creativity and change. Keynote address at the International Conference on Organizational Climates for Creativity and Change: Research and Applications, hosted by the Center for Studies in Creativity, Buffalo, NY. October.
Myers, K.D. and Kirby L.K. (1994). Introduction to Type & Type Dynamics: Exploring the Next Level of Type. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press, Inc.
Pearman, R.R and Albritton, S.C. (1997) I’m Not Crazy, I’m Just Not You. Palo Atlo, CA: Davies Black Publishing.
Segal, M.L. (1992). MBTI type and creativity, in Tell-A-Type, a newsletter of the Ontario Association for the Application of Personality Type, Toronto, October, pp. 4 – 5.
Segal, M.L. (1997). Type & creativity: Personal assistors and resisters to creativity using the MBTI. Proceedings from Association for Psychological Type 12th International Conference, Boston, Massachusetts, July 7 – 12, 1997.
Thompson, H.L. (1996). Jung’s Function-Attitudes Explained. Walkersville, Georgia: Wormhole Publishing.

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