Many people believe that analytical skills and creativity are opposites and cannot exist (or only rarely exist) in the same person. Sometimes this is framed as the “left brain/right brain” dichotomy or as “logic” versus “intuition”. In reality, this sharp division is not only unhelpful, but it also doesn’t really stand up under scrutiny.
In fact, many people are both analytical and creative in different situations or even at the same time. And in the fifteen years I’ve been running my custom web design and development company, I’ve seen how valuable that combination can be in the workplace.
Adaptable people tend to make the best employees
If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s the importance of adaptability at work and in our daily lives. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed so many things about the ways we live and work, and the people - and businesses - that have thrived are those that have remained adaptable.
A person who is able to be both creative and analytical understands the importance of adaptability. Since they can bring both skills to any given situation, they’re likely to display flexibility and be able to adapt to a wide range of situations. Likewise, an analytical/creative person is likely to be great at thinking on their feet, making good decisions based on all the information they have available.
Analytical thinking can fuel the creative process
In my experience, it is a mistake to see analytical skills as a hindrance to creativity or something that shuts the creative process down.
For example, imagine you’re working on a new marketing campaign for your business. A person who is both creative and analytical will be able to take the results from your last campaign and examine them to figure out what worked and what didn’t. They will then be able to use that information to feed their ideas for the new campaign.
People with this combination of skills think outside the box
Out-of-the-box thinkers are tremendously valuable in a forward-thinking workplace. The combination of analytical and creative thinking will result in a person who can present new and innovative ideas, while also thinking through their implications and analyzing their potential.
A person who was purely a creative thinker might present ideas that seem great on paper but are completely impractical. Meanwhile, a purely analytical thinker might be rigid in their way of approaching a problem, or resistant to change and taking risks. A person with both these skills can offer creative solutions that are grounded in logic and facts.
Analytical/creative people are often better communicators
Good communication in the workplace is essential if you want people to get along and the business to function harmoniously. However, since a typical workplace contains many different personality types, great team communication is not always easy.
People who are able to think both analytically and creatively tend to be great communicators. Why? Their logical side makes them inclined to think things through and assess the situation before they speak, while their intuitive side makes them highly empathetic and able to relate to others with ease. Since they can adapt their way of thinking to suit different situations, it also follows that they are able to communicate effectively with a wide range of people.
Great communication goes beyond interpersonal relationships in the office, too. Creative/analytical people are likely to be great with customers thanks to their adaptable nature and stellar people skills. If you want an employee who will provide fantastic service to your customers, look for someone who can be both creative and analytical as the situation calls for.
Can this combination of skills be taught?
Yes, absolutely. People tend to think of themselves as either analytical or creative thinkers, and this is true to an extent, in that most people lean more towards one side or the other. However, skills are often less innate than people think they are. With practice, it is possible to become a better analytical thinker, a better creative thinker, or both.
If you’re an employee or jobseeker, why not put effort into improving your abilities in whichever of these two areas you’re currently weaker in? Becoming a more rounded employee with a wider range of abilities can only help you in your career.
If you’re a manager or business owner, you can nourish these skills in the people you work with, and encourage your team members to seek to improve their abilities in both areas. Why not cross-train your employees on different workplace functions that allow them to use and develop different skills?
If you can spot great analytical/creative thinkers when you’re hiring, as well as nourish it in your existing employees, you’ll soon see the benefits for your company.
Ian Loew is a web entrepreneur and inbound marketing expert, and the Owner and Creative Director of Lform Design. After four years of helping Fortune 500 companies with MGT Design, Ian embarked on his freelance career before establishing Lform Design in 2005. He leads a team of creative professionals to deliver inspired online experiences via modern, responsive websites that reflect his clients’ core values. When not at the helm, Ian can be found mountain biking with friends or spending time with his family.
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