What is Creative Thinking? Critical Exercises and Techniques
Preparing for the world isn’t an easy task.
As the world changes, new technologies and practices are introduced.
What we learn in schools usually becomes obsolete by the time we’re ready to start working.
This is why preparation for children and young adults nowadays should focus on developing creative thinking skills that are crucial for adapting to this ever-changing reality.
Embrace life-long learning as a foundation for professional development.
One of the essential skills we need to develop is creative thinking.
What is creative thinking?
A definition of creative thinking is as a way to look at and solve problems from a different perspective, avoiding orthodox solutions and thinking outside the box.
Many believe that creative thinking techniques are based on experience, including Steve Jobs:
Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesise new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’d had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people.
Having this in mind, we have to understand that creative thinking is a skill we need to develop early on.
We have to be able to break the patterns and traditional way of thinking to be ready to start thinking creatively.
A way that is going to help you create a new approach to a particular situation or a problem.
Starting with this method early on guarantees more experience as you learn from many different examples as you grow up.
Connecting this experience with current challenges and situations is going to help with reaching creative new approaches.
Characteristics of people with creative thinking skills:
1 – Creative thinkers are communicators
Creativity and confidence are expressed in many ways through both listening and communicating.
This is why creative thinkers are excellent communicators.
Collaboration is also crucial creative skills for this kind of approach, and excellent communication is essential for work performed as a part of a team.
2 – They are open-minded
An open mind is a mind that appreciates criticism, is ready for new solutions and ideas, and isn’t afraid of evaluating prospects.
An open-minded person is willing to learn from both successes and mistakes, being able to grow and develop.
3 – They are risk-takers
Exploring new ideas and strategies is impossible without risk-taking, as a willingness to face challenges and accept change.
Creative thinkers are resilient, and they aren’t afraid of taking a chance, knowing that one needs to be brave when exploring innovative and original ways of thinking about and solving problems.
They know that leaving a comfort zone is sometimes necessary to succeed, even if it means facing the unknown.
4 – They are knowledgeable
To develop an understanding of things and situations, you need a background story.
Knowledge allows creative thinkers to see the full picture, which is why they know a lot about the sector they work in.
They are experts in what they do, and the concept of life-long learning is what they base their expertise on.
5 – They are flexible
Abilities to adapt to changes and think outside the usual patterns are parts of creative thinking, which is why being flexible is a characteristic trait of creative thinkers.
They welcome changes; they aren’t afraid of changing their method of work, and they are good at working with others.
Why is creative thinking and critical thinking important?
The world and society are advancing at a remarkable pace.
We need to equip ourselves with the ability to adapt to this trend with creative thinking skill, not to hold back.
We can achieve great success by facing challenges and responding to them with a new way of creative thinking and self-confidence.
Ability to apply creativity skills in both a digital and non-digital environment has become a characteristic of successful people nowadays.
If you want to build a successful career, it’s essential to develop creative thinking techniques as one of your skills, together with problem-solving and critical thinking.
Regardless if you’re a graphic designer, a social media manager or a front-end developer, these skills are essential to help you develop your real potential and use it to overcome obstacles and deal with problems each day.
When it comes to the non-digital world, teachers are first to benefit from this skill, because they’re the ones that will affect the generations to come.
They have the role of transferring this skill to their students.
This skill to ‘thinking creative' also has a significant role within creativity in business.
It allows managers, analysts, and other industry professionals to apply the creative process to the corporate sphere, start looking at things from a different perspective and create something that will separate them in the market.
The main benefits of developing creative thinking include:
· Increase your self-confidence
· Solve problems more efficiently
· Earn respect
· Be an innovator
· Make a difference
· Be more successful at work
Developing creative thinking skills
As an innovative way of approaching and analysing ideas, creative problem solving became an essential skill for the 21st century.
Although some people might seem more creative than others, this skill is something that is developed and improved using various techniques and practices.
Being an essential skill today and one of those assets you could leverage in your work pursuit, try developing creative problem solving using the following creative thinking exercises:
1 – Brainstorming creative ideas
This technique includes thinking about something and putting down all the ideas that come to your mind – regardless of how silly or unrelated they might seem at first.
In this ocean of ideas, you’re bound to find one that will stand out, one that will be tangible and innovative.
Used as an individual or group practice, brainstorming is a great way to develop creative thinking and problem-solving.
It encourages thinking differently and exploring many options that might be applied in that situation.
The more options come to your mind, the more potential you’ll have to find great ideas.
2 – Mind mapping / lateral thinking
Mind mapping is the process of connecting the dots.
While brainstorming involves putting all the ideas down as they come to your mind, mind mapping is about arranging your thoughts, thinking logically, using associations, recognising patterns and creating an order.
All that cluster of ideas from brainstorming should come together in mind mapping
This exercise engages both left and right hemisphere of the brain; it encourages you to think about the relationship among aspects and come up with something new.
It also has a positive influence on organisational skill.
3 – Reframing new ways
Since reframing focuses on analysing the same situation or a problem from a different perspective, it’s an excellent exercise for developing creative thinking.
Reframing means changing the frame of things, so you’ll need to take a look at a problem or a situation in a different way, to be able to come up with a new, innovative approach.
Explore other meanings of things, analyse the context and spread the perspective to spot something new and expect potential obstacles.
Again, this exercise and way of thinking are applicable in many professions nowadays.
4 – Envisaging something new
The goal of this exercise is to train your mind to anticipate the future based on the images of today.
Start with the current situation.
Regardless if you’re using images or data to understand it, try to think about the future and where you want the future to take you.
Through this process, you’ll need to create bridges from present to future, and this is where creativity comes in useful, as ideas to overcome gaps become solutions that will take you to desired future and help you achieve your goals.
5 – Roleplay skills for creativity
The technique of using roleplay is an excellent way to change the way you’re thinking and explore the situation from a different perspective.
Creative thinking encourages you to be open-minded, so when using this method, you’ll try to think about the situation from the point of someone else.
It would be best if you reframed your way of thinking to see a different perspective of things, to change the attitude and find new ways that go over your limits and overcome your style of problem-solving.
Assuming a new role encourages you to come up with solutions that might not be typical for you, but they are what you need for creative problem-solving.
Learners of today have a unique role in our society.
The traditional forms of learning styles and students profile are becoming obsolete.
Learners of today need to adopt this reality of constant change and progress, to be able to stay competitive and successful via creative thinking.
We need to understand this concept of lifelong learning as a part of our reality, and most professions such as design, web development, freelancing, management, all need more creative thinkers.
Creative thinking and problem-solving are essential skills for professional development, especially in the digital environment.
Quotes on creative thinking skills and thinking techniques
“Creative thinking and groundbreaking ideas are the answers to yawning dullness and threadbare lifestyles. Lateral thinking skills and new insight allow us to choose alternative paths and unstructured pursuits, wiping out obstacles to the furtherance and refinement of our identity. (“An egg every day”)”
― Erik Pevernagie
“Creativity is our one ubiquitous commonality, so perhaps that is where all constructive communication should begin.”
― Ken Poirot
“Creative geniuses redefine the desired solution. They don’t just push the envelope; they create a whole new courier system.”
― Puneet Bhatnagar
“Creative thinking is the product of your imagination.”
― Martin Uzochukwu Ugwu
“A conclusive mind cannot be a creative mind.”
― Amit Kalantri, Wealth of Words
“But the truth of the matter is that everybody is creative in their way and has a unique vision of their own.”
― Amr Okasha
“Trust me, all the innovative ideas that we put into practice comes not within but outside the workplace!”
― Ramana Pemmaraju
“Creative Thinking follows some kind of processes and patterns. It is also about concluding your life experience. After some practice, you may discover that thinking is an art.”
― Shesh Nath Vernwal
“Everything begins in your mind. If you want to scale the utmost height and be the person God meant you to be, you must cultivate a Mindset that supports that”
― Benjamin Kofi Quansah
“Creative thinking skills are the spice of great innovations.”
― Roni Rosenthal
“Eccentricity of a creative mind may not be pleasing for the people around it, but it is important for the progress.”
― Amit Kalantri, Wealth of Words
“People who refer to out-of-the-box, see the box … People who don’t know the box even exists are innovative thinkers.”
― Lisa Goldenberg
“Creativity isn’t a switch that’s flicked on or off; it’s a way of seeing, engaging and responding to the world around you.”
― Rod Judkins, The Art of Creative Thinking
“Most consumers are simultaneously neophilic, curious to discover new things, and deeply neophobic, afraid of anything too new. The best hit makers are gifted at creating moments of meaning by marrying new and old, anxiety and understanding. They are architects of familiar surprises.”
― Derek Thompson, Hit Makers: How Things Become Popular
“Developing the skill of creativity, like with any other skill, takes time. Do devote time to creativity. Honour its flow and its magic. Allow it to become your Life Force. Train Creativity daily.”
― Natasa Pantovic Nuit, Conscious Creativity
“A creative person aspires to devote the core state of their mind fixated upon performing the surge of work that expresses the raw passion driving an evolving notion of their quintessence.”
― Kilroy J. Oldster, Dead Toad Scrolls
“Critical Thinking narrow and creative thinking skills expand, but they must work in tandem for problem-solving and decision making.”
― Pearl Zhu, Thinkingaire: 100 Game-Changing Digital Mindsets to Compete for the Future