The Scourge of the Creative Process

September 25th, 2009

Every creative team has its share of battle scars. These are the result of disagreements, skirmishes and “healthy discussions” with peers, vendors, consultants, service providers and clients.  In my view, if your creative thoughts and ideas are not met with resistance (by one person or many), they are too safe, and might not yield the best results.

As a creative group, Springboard has endured many battles, emotional and physical (hence the reason why we have Bob Body). While our business is more of an art than science, the grey area that lies within the process can often lead to creative discourse among the individuals involved.

Hence, the motivation behind this post – to identify the personality types that typically get in the way of the creative process (even though their intention is to be helpful, not a hindrance).

During my tenure as a marketing and PR professional, I have worked with a number of personalities, and learned to appreciate them all.  However, no matter what the project is and whom I am working with – entrepreneurs and visionaries, hard-charging self-starters, type-As, idiot savants, and screwballs alike – there comes a time within the creative process where certain personality types unleash themselves and threaten to put your project on “perma-hold.” Among the many, I have encountered the following personalities:


In simple terms, this person can be described as a control freak. They must – at all times – be in control and therefore do not trust others to complete tasks. Micro-managers dictate priorities and distort deadlines – and while their time is precious, they are notorious for interrupting others, mismanaging meetings and perpetuating unnecessary crises.


Similar to a micro-manager, this person is far too smart for his/her own good.  They question everything and don’t understand the full scope of the project and/or the process of which is required.  Typically fixated on minutiae, such as the color of a button on a Web site or the use of a certain jargon in a press release, the overthinker will constantly pepper you with questions (aka “analysis paralysis”) and, in certain cases, misdirect (and delay) the task at hand.


Always looking to tweak a project, the tinkerer believes the process is more important than the end result.  They have no regard for budget or deadlines and simply like to explore new ideas, and have a blatant disregard for urgency.


As the moniker suggests, this personality type is simply NOT creative, yet he/she thinks they are.  They trade aesthetics for whimsical ideas that do not accurately translate creative expression.  In most cases this “character” mucks up your work and in the process sucks the creative energy out of you.

This post is not intended to ridicule anyone who may fit one or a combination of these profiles.  In fact, I admit being a tinkerer and overthinker (it took me way too long to finish this piece).

Ironically, there is a silver lining to encountering these personalities on a project. While they may add cycle times, cost and stress, embrace them, as they can play a critical role in making sure certain items are not overlooked. Serving as a counter-balancing mechanism, the micro-manager, overthinker, tinkerer, and non-creative can often raise legitimate questions and provide valuable input to make a project successful.

What’s your take on these types? Can they co-exist within the creative process and enable you to do your best work?

Domenick Cilea

Domenick founded Springboard in 1995. When he is not working on marketing, PR, branding or content strategy, Domenick can be found in a gym, on the road or pool training to survive his next triathlon.

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