Idea Productivity vs. Focus

Lots of Ideas Doesn’t Equal Creativity

At one of our Creativity Labs events, the participants were working together in teams to solve a creative challenge. I observed a young lad named Steve. He talked a lot, and his team was excited about all the ideas he was coming up with.

After the team chose an idea to implement, however, I noticed a shift in the dynamics. They were focused on getting their solution to work before the deadline—but Steve kept trying to generate more potential solutions, as if they were still at the beginning of the process. Since Steve lacked the skills to self-manage his high idea productivity, he became a distraction.

Creativity = Novelty + Utility

People often assume that high idea productivity is an asset. The more ideas you generate, the more creative you are. But it’s actually half of a truth. Creativity is not just coming up with novel ideas—it’s making those new ideas work to become effective solutions.


To get a novel idea to work, you need focus. Focus, which is the opposite of idea productivity, is the ability to stay attentive to the task and see it to completion.

High Idea Productivity, Low Focus

People with high idea productivity tend to have trouble focusing, like Steve. They struggle to stop the flow of ideas in order to actually implement something. To an extreme, this looks like attention deficit disorder because they can’t control their ability to focus. The flood of ideas is too dominant, and the ideas never become workable solutions.

High Focus, Low Idea Productivity

On the other side of the spectrum, people with high focus usually have trouble generating new ideas. Their work gets completed, but it’s routine and boring. They do things the same old way, falling into a rut of tried and true solutions. That’s not very creative.

How About You?

All of us fall naturally somewhere on the spectrum of idea productivity vs. focus. Some people are high on one side, and some people are more balanced. Your place on the spectrum affects how you manage yourself and how you approach creative work. What works for someone with high idea productivity isn’t what works for someone with high focus.

So how do you know if you tend towards high idea productivity or high focus? And once you know, how do you organize your creative work flow around these mutually exclusive strengths?

Assessment and Coaching

As a creativity coach, I use an assessment that is scientifically proven to show where you are on the idea productivity vs. focus spectrum. I’m trained to help you make sense of the results and figure out what to do with it.

You don’t have to be confused or discouraged about how high or low your idea productivity score is. No matter where you are on the spectrum, there are inherent strengths and weaknesses. The key to being as creative as possible is learning where you are on the spectrum and how to manage it.

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