We’ve delved into IQ and EQ over the last few months in which entrepreneurs and thought leaders began to realize the importance of emotional intelligence just as much as standard measures of intelligence. The newest intelligence marker is called CQ, and it stands for “creative intelligence.” Creative intelligence is first and foremost about curiosity. Where IQ is about nuts and bolts thinking, and EQ is about understanding people and their motivators, CQ is about ideas. More importantly, there’s one thing creatively intelligent people can do that high IQ and EQ people simply can’t.

What Does it Mean to be Creatively Intelligent?

As I had previously mentioned “Curiosity is also about more than just problem solving.” Though the article featuring creative intelligence is about content writers, you can apply the characteristics to any type of professional character. So while a curious content writer adds more depth to their work by continuously learning and drawing on that archive, any team member with a high CQ will likely do the same. In a nutshell, the CQ-oriented personality is someone who can perform “cognitive gymnastics.”

In that article, I had also referenced a HBR article by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, who writes on the distinguishing characteristics of people with a high CQ:

“First, individuals with higher CQ are generally more tolerant of ambiguity. This nuanced, sophisticated, subtle thinking style defines the very essence of complexity. Second, CQ leads to higher levels of intellectual investment and knowledge acquisition over time, especially in formal domains of education, such as science and art (note: this is of course different from IQ’s measurement of raw intellectual horsepower). Knowledge and expertise, much like experience, translate complex situations into familiar ones, so CQ is the ultimate tool to produce simple solutions for complex problems.”

So the next question is…

How would a business find tangible benefit in people with high creative intelligence?

Quoting a new book on the subject by Bruce Nussbaum, Anita Hamilton calls CQ the “secret sauce that separates winners and losers.” In an article for TIME, titled “First there was IQ. Then EQ. But Does CQ – Creative Intelligence – Matter Most?” Anita interviews Nussbaum on the subject. Though there are a number of valuable takeaways from the conversation, the following two are perhaps the most fundamental for a business application:

1. Collaboration Fosters Creativity

Nassbaum writes, “Creativity is social. When you read books about creativity today, the narrative of creativity is that it is a brain function or it’s a genius thing. It is rare and comes out of the individual. But when you look at almost all the innovations that are meaningful in our lives today, like Facebook and Google, they’re all done by two or three people. All the innovators have a buddy.”

2. Why Brainstorming Doesn’t Work

According to Nassbaum, “When you go to a lot of brainstorming sessions, you have people throwing ideas out that have absolutely no relation to the specific topic at hand. In these kinds of environments, people hold back their best ideas. They’re not going to share it with strangers. It doesn’t work. Instead you need “magic circles,” small teams of people who trust each other, are familiar with each other, and play together. That’s where you get some really great originality that has value.”

Crash Course in Creative Intelligence
Not everyone is disposed to CQ, but as entrepreneurs with teams to build and manage, we can take the time to learn about CQ so that we can better identify and recruit these people. A great place to start is with Nassbaum’s book. A second recommendation is for a book written by Jonah Berger, titled “Contagious: Why Things Catch On.” To round off the top 3 in best creative intelligence books, there’s “The Crazy Genius: The Connection Between Creativity, Intelligence and Genius…” written by Harris Crenshaw.