Have you ever led a brainstorm or a design thinking session? Or just lived your life in general? Then you certainly have has come across one of these 5 archetypes or combinations of them: Shadows, Wizards, Bosses, Deputies and Critics.
In this article you learn to recognise the Archetypes. And how to deal with them so your ideation session will be the best OF ALL TIME. Scroll on.
Some people tend to stick to the background. Is it insecurity? Did they lose their voice? Do they have top secret information? We don’t know, because we don’t hear them. When asked a question they tend to refer to other participants a lot: “Yes, I agree with her.” Why thank you for your contribution. t won’t take long for the rest of the group to ignore the Shadow. And most of the time the facilitator ignores them too. That is a shame because sometimes the quiet ones have an idea that archetypes like ‘the boss’ and ‘the wizard’ have never ever thought of. That might be because Shadows have time to analyse the situation instead of showing off all their creative ideas. I’d like to nickname these Shadows ‘Ninja’s’.
How to handle the Shadow
Wizards tend to come up with far-out ideas out of thin air. Like magic. But not really. Wizards are just not afraid to be creative and their brains are trained to come up with ideas on the spot. Wizards tend to be very visible. They are thrilled to be in a creative setting and they move around like lightning. Most of the times they are friendly, but they can be protective of their own ‘spells’ because they believe it to be ‘the most creative idea ever™’
How to handle the Wizard
Who’s the boss? Well, that depends. In a professional brainstorm you’ll hopefully have a facilitator who leads the session. But sometimes you have a manager or a CEO (or someone who wants to be one) in your group.
Just like Wizards, Bosses are easily spotted in a group. And just like Wizards, Bosses are protective of their own ideas. But not because of their creativity, but because they think they know what’s best for their team. And while that might be true in some cases, in a brainstorm you want people to feel room for creativity. That is difficult when you have someone who consciously or unconsciously steers the group (especially Shadows) in a direction.
That said, Bosses can be very helpful in the second stage of a brainstorm: convergence, selection and action. When decisions need to be made, they will be there. And when someone needs to pitch, the Boss won’t be afraid to step forward. On the contrary.
How to handle the Boss
Do not shoot the Deputy! Deputies are your friend, well at least they want to be. They do everything to help you make the session a success. This can be very welcome (someone to help clean up afterwards!) but can be very annoying too.
The Deputy always tries to impress you and in many situations they do. It’s good to have back-up, right? But the danger arises that the Deputy will alienate from the rest of the group, which will only make the Deputy come to you more.
How to handle the Deputy
These are the participants facilitators fear most. The arch-nemesis of a creative session! The Critic does not believe in this brainstorm, in this team, in this method, in you, in this company, in the world. And the Critic is not too shy to let people know.
You might wonder “What is the Critic even doing in this session?” That is precisely what the Critic thinks as well. But critical people exist for a reason, right? Right! Turn you challenge into an opportunity and use the skills of the Critic for good.
Just like the Boss, the skillset of the Critic comes into its own in the second stage of the session, especially convergence and selection.
How to handle the Critic
What I do know is that there are many combinations of all the archetypes I’ve written about above. Some of them are common, like the Wizard and Deputy combination. We could call it Apprentice! Or how about the Boss and Critic combination Dictator?
But maybe there is a hidden gem I have never thought about? But you did? Please let me know!
Do you want to learn more about ideation? o you want to complement this article? Do you want to yell at me for some reason? Find me at Brain Fuel or e-mail me at email@example.com. Always happy to help and happy to get help!
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