CREATIVE THINKING

HOW IT COMES ABOUT

Creative thinking skills are not taught. They do not require intelligence or even experience, although these qualities are needed to put creative ideas into practice.

Creative thinking is the result of right-brain activity – intuition, insight, inspiration – which is not readily encouraged in the education system. Indeed, such thought processes are often suppressed in favor of left-brand activities – logic, analysis, and judgments.

BLOCKS TO CREATIVITY

Would-be creative thinkers mistakenly blame ‘blocks’ to their thought processes.

Here are some of them:

  • Only clever, successful or artistic people can be creative
  • You need to suffer hardship and pain to be truly creative (artist starving in the garret)
  • Only young people have creative ideas
  • Time, money and effort are needed; creative thinking is a luxury most of us can’t afford
  • It’s only for men/women/the birds

Everyone has an imagination which is the fuel for creative thinking. It is negative thinking which stops the creative process.

TRIGGERING CREATE THOUGHTS

There are many ways to stimulate the flow of creative juices. Waiting for the Muse is too passive and a good excuse for not being inspired. So:

  • Be hungry for information; read, read and read more
  • Take up crafts and hobbies (you don’t have to be good at them)
  • Write, scribble, draw, design whatever comes into your head ( often one idea leads to other better ideas)
  • Brainstorm ideas with others
  • Put yourself under reasonable pressure by setting goals and targets (caution undue pressure leads to panic and stops the creative flow)
  • Talk to children: often they make an unusual association between ideas

IN THE WORKPLACE

The most obvious uses of creative thinking are in product development, design, and marketing. But, it can also be employed in other fields:

  • Creating synergy between departments and people
  • Managing time by combing complementary tasks
  • Developing staff – multi-skilling and lateral job moves
  • Developing system – logic and creativity can work together
  • Managing the direction of the business – vision, diversification, expansion

CREATING PEACE OF MIND

Creative thinking happens best when we are not trying. Being at peace with yourself and the world helps the imagination to function without interference.

Worrying about finding a solution to a problem is a sure way of not finding that solution. Worry is negative, unproductive and triggers one-track thinking. Try telling yourself that it doesn’t matter if you don’t come up with a good idea. Stop focusing too hard, then wait for the ideas to pop into your head (keep a notebook handy).

Don’t confuse day-dreaming (passive and unrealistic) with creative thinking (active and realistic).

Read the chapter on bottom-line thinking if worry is getting in the way.

HABIT STIFLES

There can be nothing more stifling to creative thinking than doing things through habit – casserole on Tuesdays, swimming on Sunday morning, meetings every Monday, sky-diving without a parachute on Saturday nights, etc.

Habits make us feel secure and take away the need to change. They also foster narrow-thinking and suspicion.

Examine your weekly/monthly pattern at home and work. Jot down activities you do through habit – same day, same approach. Select one or two to variation.

For example, take your staff on a walk instead of having a meeting and give them a problem to consider and discuss on the way (a lot more creative solutions will be found than sitting around the table watching the clock).

It’s surprising how the smallest of changes can trigger creativity.

TIPS

To harness your creative power:

  • Find the ladder to climb in the brick wall
  • Avoid ‘it’s not for the likes of us’ type people
  • Practice clearing your mind for 20 minutes a day
  • Keep an open mind – look at all viewpoints
  • Always consider variations on an old theme
  • Break old habits
  • Never discard any ideas, no matter how irrational or impossible they seem

FINAL THOUGHT

For those of you who believe that creative thinking is a luxury you can’t afford and you should really be spending your time on an MBA, remember what Albert Einstein said:

“Imagination is more important than knowledge”

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