Creative thinking and innovation have become buzzwords floating around leader development, strategy and many other aspects of the business world for a while. If you search for definitions, it would be no surprise that there are hundreds of ways people describe and apply these concepts.
What is it? Creative thinking is the ability to use different modes of thought, to be able to come up with something novel, to visualise, envision and generate ideas that combine existing knowledge but also causes new ideas to emerge. It starts with a need, a compelling event or desire to change a state of something.
We often describe it as the lightbulb moment but in reality, is it more like a continuum of actions from preparation, incubation, insight, and results that allows you to go from invention to practical outcome. In a world that values entrepreneurial thinking and innovation, building habits that support creative thought can help you tap into the power of insight and yield you powerful results.
Ultimately creative thinking is a mental process. It is about tapping into the way we perceive the world and then how we interpret and set up relationships and patterns in our subconscious thinking. Creativity is in finding the insight and then bringing that into a viable state. There is a change in your thinking patterns at the moment of insight. A shift away from your standard programming and coding that drives our subconscious.
A human brain is a meaning-making machine with the ability to process and compute vast amounts of data per second. The subconscious is the engine house for this, and it can do this work because of its ability to create and use patterns of thought and mental shortcuts. (bias) When it comes to creativity and innovation, this system and its genius can also become our weakness. Creative thinking doesn’t happen when the brain is using a pre-programmed script. We have to create the right conditions to let our brain power loose and find insight.
three ways to build creative thinking
Here are three simple things that can help you build creative thinking.
- Remove distractions. Did you know that it takes around 45 mins of uninterrupted thought to allow your brain to generate a new idea? If you need to find insight, then you need to reduce or remove distractions. So, no phones, no notification pings, no knocks on the door etc. When did we last schedule uninterrupted, screen-free time to think?
- The right motivation. You have to want something to change. Not your leaders, or other people, but you personally. Good insight requires you to push the limits of your knowledge and your abilities, it’s mentally hard work, and if you are not personally motivated, you will stop as soon as it gets hard. Just think of a brainstorming session where people didn’t want to participate or didn’t see the topic as that important. How successful was the outcomes and quality of ideas from the meeting?
- The ability to reframe challenges. You need to be ready to look at problems, opinions and information through different perspectives. To be able to see things in a different light and to open yourself to challenging your mental bias and current frames of reference. If you are adamant you are right, you will not be able to think creatively about that situation.
There is a wealth of content out there on how you can build or expand your skills in creative thinking, but all of them will stay dormant if we don’t create the right conditions to let our brains do the hard work. In a world that values entrepreneurial thinking and innovation, building these conditions into your week can help you tap into the power of insight can yield you powerful results.