- What are creative thinking skills?
- When does the need for creative thinking skills arise?
- Types of creative thinking
- How to develop and improve creative thinking skills.
When we talk of creative thinking skills the first thing that may come to mind is “being creative” or in other words being innovative. Though creative thinking does include being innovative, the definition does not stop there.
In the broader sense, creative thinking is the ability to solve problems through unorthodox or unconventional means. The ability to think out of the box. It is the capability of a person to find solutions to problems.
Creative thinking also means the capability of a person to create something new including a new idea or a new solution to an existing problem.
It can also refer to thinking from new perspectives. But, it does not necessarily mean a solution to a problem. It can be an innovative use of something already in existence.
For example, the use of a simple footstool as a comfortable seat is an existing fact. However, the conversion of that stool into a step up ladder or a reclining bed, will be a new and creative innovation.
Creative thinking skills are not unique to certain professions like musicians or artists, but is a skill that is required in all professions and all walks of life.
Creative Thinking Skills Are More or Less Achieved in Two Ways
1. Through Group Discussions or Brainstorming
When groups or teams discuss issues together, there is an amalgamation of thoughts and ideas. These thoughts and ideas are broken down and carefully dissected, to finally arrive at a possible solution.
Notice here that there are many ideas and thoughts from different members of the team. Each member participates actively in the solution process. Thereby finally arriving at a new and creative solution
2. Lateral Thinking, in Contrast to Vertical Thinking
Lateral thinking is the process of thinking in a unique way. It is more a personal thought process unlike brainstorming or group discussions where the thought process is collective.
It is a new way of looking at a problem. The solutions might not be immediately obvious during the process of lateral thinking.
On the other hand, vertical thinking is like thinking in a straight line. Using obvious methods to arrive at a solution.
In this article we will be concentrating more on creative thinking skills using lateral means. Though group discussions and brainstorming are also a deep rooted part of the creative thinking process.
When Are Creative Thinking Skills Most Handy?
Today, innovation is the key to success. Employers or company recruiters look for creativity and innovation skills before hiring fresh recruits.
There is no industry or company that does not face challenges during the course of operations. It is here that creative thinking skills are put to test.
Those with a greater creative thinking process, are often the ones who succeed. The ability to think of an innovative method to solve the problems is the key.
There are typically four situations, where your creativity and innovation skills are tested.
1. When Problems or Obstacles Arise
Companies are faced with challenging situations at all times. These are hurdles that employees are expected to cross with ease. The quicker and better you cross these hurdles, the better are your chances of climbing the career graph.
Not only employment, but in situations in life, challenges are plenty. Your creative thinking skills can help you get out of many sticky situations in life.
2. When Change Is a Must
Change is constant. In order to survive in the market, companies need to innovate. What reaped profits for the company 5 years back, may not hold good today. Your ability to think creatively can bring profits to you and your business.
For example, about 15 to 20 years ago, Compact Discs or CDs were profitable companies. Today, the compact discs have become obsolete, paving the way for newer and better storage devices. These companies had to adapt to the new and changing times, in order to survive in the business.
3. When You Are Starting Something New
Being creative and innovative is a must when you want to start something new. It may be a new business or a new venture. Creative thinking skills are a must:
- In a situation where a decision or compromise seems far fetched
- In such a situation being creative to arrive at a possible solution seems the best option
These are typically four possible situations where you need creative and innovation skills to survive. It is not an exhaustive list of situations. There may also be other situations where creative thinking skills will be needed.
How to Develop Creativity Skills?
Creative thinking skills are not something that is achieved overnight. It is a process that is mastered over the years. Here are some ways of how to develop creativity skills
1. Be Aware of Everything Around You
One of the best ways of developing and improving creativity skills is to always be aware of everything around you. You never know what observation you made will help you think out of the box.
Let’s take for example, the TATA NANO car that was envisioned by the CEO of TATA group, Ratan Tata in 2013.
It is claimed that he had seen a family of four riding precariously on a scooter. This scene made him envision a safe alternative for a single scooter carrying an entire family.
Therefore, this innovative idea sprung from a single vision of a family of four on a single scooter.
When you are aware of everything around you, you are more likely to get innovative ideas and thoughts.
2. Improve Your Social Skills
One of the ways of how to increase creativity skills is to become more interactive in society. When you interact with others, it allows you to absorb ideas from others.
Meeting different people from different cultural backgrounds allows you to think from a wider perspective.
Getting introduced to people from different countries or different linguistic backgrounds also allows you to think differently. Therefore improving social skills is one of the keys to creative thinking.
3. Be Open to Change
“Creative thinking inspires ideas and ideas inspire change” – Barbara Januszkiewicz
The same holds good the opposite way. Change inspires ideas and ideas inspire creative thinking.
When you accept new and changed positions, it inspires you to think creatively to confront these new positions. For example, accepting employment in a foreign country can seem scary and challenging.
However, not accepting such an offer will be simply running away from the situation. Accepting the offer, though may seem challenging initially, will finally lead to better creativity and innovation skills.
An article published in the Harvard Business review claims that people who have international experience or identify with more than one nationality are better problem solvers and display more creativity.
More so, people with this international experience are more likely to create new businesses and products and to be promoted.
The same article mentions a research conducted on 220 MBA students from Northwestern Kellogs school. They were asked to solve the Duncker Candle Problem.
The results of the research experiment showed that the longer students had spent living abroad, the more likely to solve the candle problem.
In fact, 60% of students who had previously lived abroad solved the problem compared with 42% of students who hadn’t lived abroad.
Challenging yourself to try something new will impact the way you think.
4. Ask All the Possible Questions
The key to the creative thinking process is to ask all possible questions related to the subject matter. The why, how, when, where of the matter will help you to arrive at creative or out of the box solutions.
It is also important to question yourself as to why you have chosen a certain thought over another thought. Why does this particular thought override all the other thoughts in your head?
5. Think Beyond the Conventional
One of the best ways of how to improve creativity skills is to think beyond the conventional or typecast.
Let’s take for example chefs in hotels. When you are asked a typical question about chefs in a hotel, the first picture that may come to your mind is a male chef.
Question yourself as to why you thought of this chef as a male gender in the first place? Can’t women also be chefs in a hotel?
Is your bias because of what you have seen yourself, or what the media has portrayed or that women chefs are not globally accepted as chefs in hotels?
Asking yourself why you think like that will help you think differently from others. While non creative thinkers do not question this fact, creative thinkers tend to question the way they think for themselves, thereby helping them to think differently.
6. Engage in Expressive Art Form
Creative thinking skills can be developed and improved by engaging in various art forms like dance, music, theatre, and artwork among other artistic activities.
According to an article published The Healing Power of Art and Artists, research has proven that arts develop neural systems that produce a broad spectrum of benefits ranging from fine motor skills to creativity and improved emotional balance.
“The arts are a critical component of healthcare. Expressive art is a tool to explore, develop and practice creativity as a means to wellness.” ~ Wellarts Association.
7. Learn to Communicate Your Creative Ideas
Another important part of creating thinking skills is the art of communication. Your creative ideas will be of no use if you are unable to pitch them across to the audience.
Research has shown that audience attention span is only 7 to 8 minutes. If the topic does not capture their attention, then you lose them in less than 7 minutes.
Try the elevator pitch method to practice communicating your ideas in the shortest possible time.
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Types of Creative Thinking Skills
Creativity skills list is comprehensive. Creativity sprigs up in almost all fields. Here is a creativity skills list that may help you understand the core of creativity
- Creative writing
- Sales and marketing
- Problem solving
- Breaking down of data among others
Creative thinking is not a talent, it is a skill that can be mastered over the years. Creative thinking skills are important in every sphere of life, be it student life or in careers.
The future belong to those who learn more skills and use them in creative ways.