12 practical tips to unlock your creative thinking
“There is no doubt that creativity is the most important human resource of all. Without creativity, there would be no progress, and we would be forever repeating the same patterns.”
Edward de Bono, creative thinking pioneer (Serious Creativity, 1992)
You’ve probably heard businesses talk a lot about “innovation”. But what does it really mean? Put simply, you can think of innovation as ‘creativity with a purpose’ – finding new and better ways of doing things. It means taking the initiative to find opportunities and take ownership for what you do; it also means being creative in how you communicate data and solutions to clients
In the last few years, fresh thinking by businesses has given us everything from cameras in our phones to the world’s music library at our finger tips – leaving many ‘old school’ businesses in the dust. When you work at an organisation like EY, you see up close how our working world is changing at lightning speed. A formula that was successful last year may already be out of date.
This is why we depend on creative thinkers to succeed. People who can look ahead, think differently and bring fresh ideas to the table. People who are able to communicate and present their ideas in creative ways. People who are not afraid to challenge the status quo and see a way to make the world work better.
Whether you’re studying at school or university, or are already in the working world, here are 12 practical tips to help you train those creative muscles for the future of work.
You may have to learn, unlearn and relearn what you think you know.
They don’t have to stay the way they are. Challenge assumptions.
You can’t know what possibilities lie behind that door until you explore it.
Keep a childlike curiosity and you’ll always enjoy the process, whatever the subject.
Explore other subjects you’re not familiar with and broaden your horizons.
How? Why? What if? Intelligent questions stimulate, provoke, inform and inspire. Always dig a little deeper.
Attack problems sideways, rather than head-on, by playing with what’s possible. Ask yourself: “If assumption X was no longer true, what would we do then?”
Compare your problem to a fictional story, a random object or another unrelated problem. See what connections you can draw between them to come up with a creative solution.
It may not change, but our interpretation of it might. For example, instead of asking “How can we do this faster?”, try “How would we achieve the same goal if we were to start this today from scratch?”
A picture can paint a thousand words, so use them more often. If the problem was visual, how would you draw it? This can help people see it in new ways.
Write down the things you learn and experiences that interest you. Refresh and review regularly, and you’ll start to see connections.
Ever noticed how you get your best ideas in the shower, or on a walk? Our subconscious keeps working after we’ve finished intense thinking. By making time to relax you’ll be clearing more space in your mind to allow for new ideas to appear.
So, however creative (or not) you thought you were when you started reading this, you now have plenty of tools to unlock your inner creative genius. Start putting these techniques into action today and you’ll soon become an indispensable thinker for any innovative business.