Creative Thinking

by Jayne Cormie

Introduction

The biggest challenge for organisations in the 21st century is to unlock the creative brainpower of their people. Businesses and their leaders, managers and other staff are constantly being confronted with a whole host of challenges: the pace of change is accelerating; competition is increasing dramatically; new technology is being introduced at a rapid rate, and the business environment is becoming more complex.

To meet these challenges and to exploit the opportunities they create, businesses must be able to think on their feet. They need to be able to create innovative products for their customers, develop creative marketing strategies that out-perform their competitors and improve the effectiveness and efficiency of their business processes. In order to do this, organisations need to improve the creativity of their teams and must foster the kind of culture which will turn that creativity into innovation.

One of the key ways in which organisations can improve their creativity is through learning creativity processes. By developing the creative thinking skills of its people, an organisation is better able to tap into the creative brainpower within the business and unleash its creativity. The result? A business that is able to conjure up new ideas and think through problems to find original solutions.

But organisations aren’t creative... individuals are. And that means you!

However, I often hear comments such as ‘I’m not creative,’ and ‘I am a left-brained [logical] person, not one of those right-brained creative types.’ So, let me ask you... are you creative?

Think about it for a moment.

There is a prevailing belief that creativity is an inborn trait – you are either creative or you’re not. The truth is, we are all creative and have many creative skills. Think back to when you were a child. Children are naturally curious and eager to explore the world around them; they spend hours playing with toys, making up imaginary friends and acting out their stories. But as we get older, we begin to lose some of our natural creativity as we learn and use more left-brain thinking skills in school and at work.

Research shows that our propensity to generate truly original ideas reduces from 90 per cent at age five, to 20 per cent at age seven and even further to two per cent as adults! However, unless you have suffered brain damage in your right hemisphere or had it surgically removed, you still have this part of your brain, so you are still creative. It’s just that maybe you don’t use your creativity skills as much as you used to.

So the good news is that you can unleash your latent creativity if you know how to tap into your creative brain.

Let’s begin by testing creativity with a thinking puzzle.

Exercise

Below are nine dots, arranged in a set of three rows. Your challenge is to draw four straight lines which go through the middle of each of the dots without taking your pencil off the paper. Each line starts where the last line finishes.

So, can you start from any position and draw the four lines, one after the other, without taking your pencil off the page?

Try this now by quickly drawing nine dots on a piece of paper, then draw your lines.

Challenge yourself to come up with a solution before you look at the answer!

So how did you do? What process did you use to solve the puzzle? Did you think out of the box?!

This puzzle demonstrates the true essence of creative thinking – the ability to see what everyone else sees, but be able to think what no-one else has thought. In order to solve the challenge, you literally have to think outside the box.

This topic aims to give you the knowledge, skills and tools to think in new ways and to unleash your creativity.