Whether you’re trying to solve a tough problem, start a business, get new business in or write an interesting article; creative thinking is crucial. The process boils down to changing your perspective and seeing things differently than you currently do.
Most of us believe we’re not creative, true? So why not carry out this simple exercise – how many uses can you come up with for the common paperclip. Yes the paperclip – the standard tool used to keep paper together. Try listing out twenty ways you can use a paperclip.
Typically we can come up with at least thirty ways to use a paperclip when I’ve done this exercise with groups of business owners. They can range from a necklace (when joined together), to an executive toy, to a fuse!
You see the map is not the territory – we put our own limitations on ourselves – our own set of boundaries within which we operate every day.
So, rather than looking for ways to inspire creativity, you should just realise the truth – you’re already capable of creative thinking at all times, but you have to strip away the imaginary mental blocks (or boundaries) that you’ve picked up along the way.
Challenge current approaches to your work.
Think about whether you and your staff can work together in new, previously unimaginable possibilities.
Challenge existing beliefs and assumptions.
Ask yourself, your colleagues and your staff whether your current views about how things are done in your business are correct.
Take a course on a subject like creative thinking, creative writing or improvisational acting to help you flex your creative thinking muscles. Read books written by such experts as Dr Edward de Bono.
On a blank sheet of paper, draw pictures, your ideas and the way in which they can be connected. You can make more connections than if you simply listed ideas on a piece of paper.
See problems as challenges and opportunities. Open your mind to new ideas, even if they at first seem absurd.
Call on creative types.
Identify the creative people in your company. Call on them to get involved in brainstorming sessions and other such activities if you need help stimulating participants’ creative juices.
Change your routine.
Make small changes in your daily routines and physical environment to help you see that things can be done in different ways.
Listen for change resistance.
When you hear someone say, “We have always done it like this,” be ready to challenge their assumptions. Use the phrase: “Up until now…” (We’ve done it this way; we haven’t been able to do this, etc…). Ask How… something can be done – it opens your mind to other possibilities.
Book time to be creative.
Block out time in your weekly routine that is not booked with a meeting, task, or other work. Use this time to let your thoughts wander: You may also find yourself thinking of new ideas to solve old problems. Get out of your normal environment for such thinking time.
By offering playful and seemingly absurd ideas to others, you model creative thinking. Others may emulate you – further spreading the creative energy in your business.
Here’s to your success.