We show that social roles alter creativity assessments. Specifically, the two main roles in the innovation process – generator roles for producing new ideas and implementer roles for selecting ideas to pursue – invoke different lay theories about what is creative. Study 1 showed that implementers rated a low novelty version of an idea as more creative than a high novelty version, but generators did the opposite. Study 2 showed that generators rated a low usefulness idea as more creative than a high usefulness idea, but implementers did the opposite. Thus, complementary roles prompted competing perspectives. These findings underscore a new challenge for the social distribution of knowledge-intensive work.