Creative thinking skills: definition and examples
When was the last time you came up with something truly new and original? Exercising your creative thinking skills is a critical part of life, no matter the field you work on.
For those that consider creativity to be a gift of nature, it is important to understand it is a skill that can be improved with the right training. Not only that but you can also make use of certain techniques to create innovative solutions steadily.
It is also important to break the myth that creativity is fully dependent on a mystical source of inspiration. Instead, it is the byproduct of consuming all kinds of content, being able to relate to different pieces of media, and deconstruct issues to come to the appropriate answers. The proper creative thinking makes this easier.
In this post, you will find out more about:
- What is creative thinking and some of its techniques;
- What are the main benefits from it;
- How to develop creative thinking skills.
What is creative thinking?
Creative thinking refers to using abilities to come up with new solutions to problems. Creative thinking skills are techniques used to look at the issue from different and creative angles, using the right tools to assess it and develop a plan.
The focus on creativity is important because most problems might require approaches that have never been created or tried before. It is a highly valued skill to have individually and one that businesses should always aspire to have among their ranks.
Creative thinking is a skill and, like any other, it needs constant exercise to stay sharp. You need to regularly expose yourself to situations in which a new idea is needed and surround yourself with like-minded people to achieve this goal.
Such a process is made easier with the use of certain techniques. They help get you on the right mindset and provide the basic structure to reach new ideas on demand.
In the video below, the Italian professor Giovanni Corazza talks about how science can be used to generate creative ideas on people. Check it out:
Creative thinking techniques
As you have just learned, creative thinking can be triggered by some widely used techniques. These are effective methods to help you come up with new ideas, test them under new environments, and count on other people’s input to make them even more innovative.
Here are the best creative thinking techniques you can use.
This technique can be very useful in small or large-scale problems that require a creative solution. The main goal is to form a group of people and throw around ideas without interference.
The general idea of brainstorming is that, by having an excess of potential solutions, it gets easier to reach one with the highest level of quality.
Brainstorming has several advantages that can help you exercise your creative thinking skills. For starters, it does not require a rigid structure to function, being very informal. However, it can be facilitated by professional guidance. Also, the people involved do not even need to be together at the same time, as you can use a virtual setting or put ideas into a shared document.
For it to work well, all participants must be aware of the problem that requires a creative solution and are familiar with how brainstorming works. In the end, do not forget to register all the ideas through proper documentation.
Sometimes, the answer to a problem is not in front of it, but besides it. That is the general idea of lateral thinking, which is a great way to exercise your creative skills and come up with innovative plans.
Lateral thinking involves looking in less obvious areas and lines of reasoning. It can work well if you and your partners try to put yourselves under different perspectives or reverse the problem to look at it differently.
For instance, the direct solution to a loss of sales online would be to put up more ads and promotions. However, lateral thinking might reach alternative paths, like using e-mail marketing to reach customers that have not bought from you in a while.
This can be extrapolated further, even using absurd lines of thinking to get your creative juices flowing. The most important aspect of this process is to go where you would not usually choose to go.
The process of mind mapping helps you connect ideas you never imagined could be combined. Because of that, it might help you reach appropriate solutions while using creative thinking skills.
A mind map is a chart where you input ideas and connect them. It can have possible solutions to a problem, its immediate consequences, and be the best course of action to deal with them. Alternatively, your mind map can serve as a way to see a bigger picture regarding what you are trying to do.
Mind mapping can even be done individually. Sometimes, you may already have all the ideas you need but it is required to put them to paper. Creating a mind map helps to organize them and naturally reach conclusions.
Also, since a mind map is essentially an infographic, those who were not part of the process can easily understand it. Therefore, it serves as a valid piece of documentation.
What are the main benefits of creative thinking?
Developing your creative thinking skills is highly beneficial for any field of work. After all, every area needs people that can come up with the best solutions to the everyday problems that arise and creativity is critical to do that.
You can experience advantages such as these by developing creative thinking skills:
- ability to create the best solutions to daily demands, which provides value to clients and your own business;
- improvement on problem-solving for not only work-related matters but also those in your personal life;
- higher workplace involvement in daily activities and engagement, which is beneficial to a healthier environment;
- a better understanding of data — also known as data literacy — and how to present it through data storytelling;
- focus on self-improvement as you and your teammates will develop more skills.
- more effective teamwork and bonding, since people grow used to bouncing off ideas and learn each other’s creative traits.
How to develop creative thinking skills?
Now that you know exactly what creative thinking skills are, the next step in this process involves learning how to work on them. After all, stagnation can be the biggest threat to your creativity, as it requires constant stimulation.
Check out below the best ways to develop creative thinking skills for yourself.
Consume different kinds of content
Your creative thinking can be heavily benefited if you diversify the kind of content you consume in your daily life. After all, the information we absorb can be combined, remixed, and repurposed in several ways to provide solutions. However, this becomes impossible if there is no variety.
To do that, you can make use of the internet’s vast selection of content types. Try to visit different blogs, YouTube channels, and social media profiles you are not used to — preferably those that deal with topics you do not usually consume.
This also works if you try to vary the forms as well as the content. This means engaging with different types of media, like text, videos, audio, and even more specific ones like e-books, podcasts, infographics, and others.
Keep up with the trends
Much of your creative thinking can be influenced by the trends that are influencing the market right now and the ones that are coming up in the future.
Keeping up with the trends is not just about consuming all kinds of news related to your field. It is also necessary to develop a keen eye to distinguish what has the potential to get viral or not. This ability will be essential to the success of your strategies in marketing.
Being able to predict trends does not require a crystal ball. Instead, you need to understand how your business segment operates and where the innovation comes from. Having a problem-solving stance is critical for coming up with creative ideas.
Try to create something every day
When someone wants to lose weight, they come up with an exercise plan that requires a daily effort as commitment. The same concept applies to the workout of your creative thinking skills required to stay sharp.
So, with that goal in mind, make sure to try to create something new daily. It does not have to be something large or significant, just anything new that derives from all the new references you are absorbing.
Such creations might also serve as solutions to everyday problems you or your community face. The most important part of this process is creating a habit of coming up with new things so it begins to come naturally to you.
Build a network for creativity
Get help from others to keep your creative thinking skills in constant development. You can build a network of people with the same goals and put all these tips in action as a group.
Interacting with your peers is a great way to exercise your creativity. It is even better when these people are also creatively-oriented and contributes to coming up with ideas as a network. Try to come up with group projects to create a solution to a common problem or innovate on a certain aspect of work.
Be careful not to surround yourself with people that think and create exactly like you. Seek as much diversity as you can while creating this network, since all this variety can be highly beneficial to everyone’s ideas.
Realizing creative thinking skills require constant training is the first step in improving how you come up with new ideas. People who are experienced in this craft can improve every field of expertise. Consider the tips in this article and begin a process of self-improvement focused on honing your creative thinking skills.
Speaking of improvements, how about learning more about how to evaluate your results? Check out this post on the 9 most important metrics to measure content performance.