Creativity is key for success. It is the basis for innovation. Regardless of the area you work in, your ability to solve complex problems and find new solutions will be result of your creative thinking skill. Like any skill it can be developed. There are many tips on what one can do to train the brain to explore new territories.
Here we focus on the best tips, which will help you to develop a strong creative thinking. At the end of the list, we also share many links, if you would like to continue your research. As you all know, Google is our friend in any topic you may think of, so keep searching and sharing your tips.
12 years ago, I was working for Sony. In the first weeks, as I had an undefined business development job, I had extra time to find out what to do. So I was to think of a topic, which had no hits on the net. Anything. I was putting long list of topics and ideas, and while at that time content was less, finally there were maybe only 2-5 topics with no information caught by the search engines. Even topics like e-books were kind of non-existent. Anyway, this exercise may seem like waste of time, but it is maybe the best ever tip of how you can explore and develop your creativity.
TIP No1. List all ideas without judging
It is called long thinking. One idea shall lead to another. Just drop them down without being judgmental, without even evaluating. Get you mind free out there – no idea is a stupid idea at this stage.
I let once a packaging innovation project in a category, which was pretty boring. The company we worked with is called Kinneir Dufort from Bristol. They organized a 2 days’ workshop with the marketing managers from 5 countries and said we will create over 100 ideas. That was hard to believe at the planning stage, but yet the day came and in 24 working hours we had 206 ideas on the list with small conceptual drawings. We grouped those then into 12 concepts and went into consumer research. We were in a flow: one idea gave birth to another. The creatives just kept scetching. This is the so called „snowball effect”. And the feeling was incredible and uplifting.
Be prepared to capture ideas, anywhere, anytime. Sometimes the ideas come when you walk, run, take a shower. I have a special bord, on which you can write in the bath. A present form my marketing team – as I kept sharing ideas with them each morning, how to solve issues. I always told them they can kill any idea, as the good ones will survive.
Sleeping and dream time also is a great idea generator time. Be prepare to catch those. Many artists use this experience to create new fantastic imaginative artworks.
We all always have a phone, so just take a photo, or put a note. In this matter quantity matters, no quality. Later you can spend thime with categorizing and cleaning the idea list, but at the beginning just keep filling the list.
TIP No2. Collaborate to explore different perspectives
Once you start a creative process, adding other people with other experience and thinking can stimulate your own process and idea generation. Letting others to give ideas to your problem and vice versa helps changing prospective. Be prepared not to judge again. The syndrome „Not invented here” is a dangerous one. Good tip is to use the de Bono’s „Six Thinking Hats” process to navigate yourself and the team around.
Make sure that you have time, but also you give yourself a deadline as time pressure sometimes helps.
TIP No3. Experiment and steel with pride
Taking ideas from one area and translating that into another area usage is key innovation tool. Just try out things and techniques. Keep experimenting. Maybe one day you will end up doing something, no one ever has done. All new technologies started like that. Covid mRNA vaccines where developed in this way as well.
Look at items and think what else can you use them for. Laura Kampf is a DYI expert in this area. She takes stuff and turns into something else. Just following creative people like her can help you on the way to develop similar creative approach. Anything can be used for anything – especially in art these days. One of our artists, Miroljuba Gendova uses old music cassette tapes to make handbags.
Searching and looking for how others approach the topic ca be useful. If you and artist in specific area, looking at what others do at least will help you to be different. Today learning is easier than ever. Knowledge has become much more accessible, and if you spend time and effort, you can easily have a good view on what exists and what does not yet.
TIP No4. Change environment if you get stocked
When one works a lot, work becomes a routine. So there is not much place for innovative thinking. Whenever you feel you are stocked and you miss the brilliant idea to your problem, just stop there. Go away. Start doing something else. Lot of tips suggest long walks, exercising, as it is increasing the creative thinking ability. The main reason is, that once you start doing physical work, your brain is not occupied with so intensive thinking, and it frees up space. Going out into nature helps you to gain new impulses. Just change something, to get different feelings.
TIP No5. Take time off for yourself
We live fast lives and are more active than ever before. Media is bombing us with information all the time. When was the last time you did nothing? Just simply were with yourself alone without the virtual or physical link to others? Being tired does not help creativity. It is the same as if you have been running for an hour, and in 30 min. you must do it again. You hardly will be able to run at your best immediately.
Isolate yourself – take your time off. Meditate. Let your brain rest and then maybe it will find its way back refreshed.
Lots of writers have their special writing times. Painters also paint on their own. Composers work alone. You cannot do a special deeply creative work in front of others. You need to be in a safe zone, where mistakes and failure are allowed. As creativity means allowing yourself to be wrong till you get right.