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Who's in the Video
Thomas A. Stewart is the Chief Marketing and Knowledge Officer (CMKO) of the global management consulting firm Booz & Company. Stewart most recently served as editor and managing director of[…]

Tom Stewart’s creative process is far from orderly.

Question: What's your creative process?

Tom Stewart: I once was doing an article that I was doing in Fortune magazine.  I did an article about power.  I actually did two of them about power in corporations.  And I got very interested in psychological testing and how … and because there was a fad. This was, I can’t remember, seven or eight years ago.  There was a fad for giving psychological tests to people before they got promoted . . . Meyers-Briggs tests, but also other kinds of tests.  I also was intrigued because back in the 1950s, there was a fad for aptitude tests.  And in fact it was concern with the aptitude test fads that got … to start writing the book that became the organization of the articles for Fortune … became the organization.  And included in that book was a chapter on how to cheat on aptitude tests – how to take them and how to cheat on them.  So I got interested in the personality tests, and I went to a psychologist friend and I said, “Would you teach me how to cheat on psychology tests?”  And she said, “No, I can’t.  I’m not allowed.  There are professional standards.  But I’ll give you one.  I’ll give you the battery that I give.”  Because she does executive coaching and so on and so on.  So she gave me this battery of tests and gave me the feedback.  And out of it … and of course I tried to cheat … and I …  But out of it I got some interesting feedback in which she said that … that she was intrigued by the way that my mind worked.  Because she found that … that my mind worked in a way that not too many other people in her experience … experience did.  Which … which is it made all kinds of connections to things in strange ways.  I would, you know … I’d leap from A to Z to M to L to P, and I’d pull in things from … from a whole lot of sources and sort of dance around topics until I’d get it right.  And if I get passionate about an idea, I swarm it.  I overdo it.  I kill it.  You know I … I just go all over it until I think I understand it.  Or until … or until I’m bored and I go somewhere else.  So it’s that kind of …  There’s not an orderly process.  It’s a fairly physical process.  I mean, there’s a … I … I squirm a lot around in my chair when I’m excited by an idea, or I start talking to people.  I wanna run it by them.  So it … it’s kind of a noisy … a noisy process of seeing connections and getting excited by them.

Recorded on: 6/22/07