Creative Thinking

by Jayne Cormie

Discover your creative thinking style

Thinking is one of the main functions of the brain and is as natural as breathing! It consists of many different mental processes, including memorising, imagining, perceiving, knowing, deciding, creating and visualising.

In fact, we cannot not think!

We all have preferences in the way that we think – this is called brain dominance. Your brain dominance determines your thinking style, and your thinking style determines your way of thinking. Our whole perception and the way we approach business – and life in general – is defined by our thinking styles.

The following simple survey is designed to help you to identify your brain dominance profile: in other words, your preferred thinking style. The results will enable you to understand your creative strengths and weaknesses and will help you to think about how to develop your creative thinking skills and which thinking tool to use to unleash your personal creativity.


What is your creative style?

Complete the questionnaire as honestly as you can by circling the word on each line which is most descriptive of you. Then count how many responses you circled in each column. The column(s) with the highest number represents your thinking style.

This questionnaire is designed to give you a quick insight into your thinking style. There are many psychometric tests which provide an in-depth analysis, the best of which is the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument. The HBDI is a psychometric tool which measures brain dominance and thinking styles. It is a simple yet highly powerful tool which will give you amazing insights into how you and others think. (

Understanding your results

In Your creative brain, you discovered that your brain is divided into two hemispheres, left and right. Each of these hemispheres is divided into two areas, the cortex and the limbic system.

These four distinct parts of the brain serve as an organising principle of how the brain works, the four thinking styles metaphorically representing the two halves of the cortex and the two halves of the limbic system.

Digital thinker

Digital thinkers are logical and analytical, with a rational outlook and a traditional approach to life. Smart and astute, they are very ‘cerebral’ in that they enjoy being intellectually stimulated and mentally challenged. They devour information and use facts and figures to explain, evaluate and support their thoughts and ideas. Their key strengths are analysing, evaluating and quantifying and so they tend to be financially and technically minded. Performance and results-driven, digital thinkers like being the decision makers and problem solvers. They make decisions by really thinking them through; once they’ve made a decision, they will stand by it 100 per cent. In this respect, digital thinkers can be quite stubborn, especially if their decision is questioned!

Digital thinkers have a logical and analytical approach to creativity. They prefer being involved with the process of evaluating and analysing ideas rather than generating ideas.

The law breaker tool is a thinking tool which reflects the thinking style of digital thinkers (see the page on The tools to think creatively).

Operational thinker

Operational thinkers enjoy organising and planning. Task-focused and practical, they like administrative activities and implementing ideas. Because they are structured and process-driven, operational thinkers strive to finish jobs effectively and efficiently. These are the list makers! They dislike being disorganised and messy because this makes them feel out of control.

Operational thinkers tend to have a conservative approach to life which involves safe, cautious decision-making. They make decisions by thinking things through methodically, using a step-by-step thought process. Their need for stability and security means that they avoid taking risks and need time to adjust to change. They are also very detail oriented and particular about the way things are done. However, this means that they can be inflexible and set in their ways.

Operational thinkers have a practical and structured approach to creativity. They prefer being involved with the implementation of ideas rather than generating them.

The SCAMPER thinking tool reflects the thinking style of operational thinkers (see the page on The tools to think creatively).

Animated thinker

Animated thinkers are very people and ‘feelings’ oriented and have a clear preference for the interpersonal aspects of life. They are the communicators who thrive on expressing themselves by speaking and listening. Animated thinkers are also highly emotionally intelligent in that they are very perceptive of their own emotions as well as the feelings of others. This intuitive ability with people means that they are sensitive, caring individuals, who focus on ensuring that everyone around them is happy.

Animated thinkers are ruled by their intuition and they usually base their decisions on their hunches rather than logic. They will often sense that an idea is good, but might not be able to rationalise this feeling. They also like to be able to talk through their thoughts and ideas with others and make joint decisions wherever possible.

Animated thinkers have an experiential and sensory approach to creativity, meaning that they engage their senses to perceive new ideas from the people and the environment around them. They prefer being involved with the communication of ideas rather than generating them.

The great minds thinking tool reflects the thinking style of animated thinkers (see the page on The tools to think creatively).

Creative thinker

Creative thinkers are highly imaginative and artistic. They have a natural ability to see things differently and to think in unusual ways. Entrepreneurial by nature, these thinkers love coming up with creative ideas and being innovative. They are big picture thinkers, who enjoy thinking strategically and creating the future.

Creative thinkers have an avant-garde approach to life and proactively resist anything which they feel stifles their creativity and dampens their self-expression. Naturally curious and open-minded, they have a strong need for freedom and independence and are spontaneous and adventurous. As a result, they are often unpredictable and impetuous. They get a kick out of breaking the rules and taking risks in order to achieve their goals. They also thrive on change and get bored quickly and easily. They often overlook the facts and figures and ignore the practical elements of their thoughts and ideas.

Creative thinkers have an imaginative and experimental approach to creativity. They prefer being the ideas-person, generating new ideas and coming up with original concepts.

The random object thinking tool reflects the thinking style of creative thinkers (see the page on The tools to think creatively).

Creative teams

Like-minded people create like-minded ideas, whereas unique people create unique ideas! Everyone can be equally effective at creating ideas, but the process is different for each thinking style.

If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking!

General George S Patton Jr

Research shows that the higher the degree of mental diversity within a team, the higher the number of practical and creative ideas invented. So, the greater the diversity of thinking styles you gather, the more effective you will be in creating new ideas that will really grow your business.

Every organisation has a distribution of people with the different mental preferences and thinking styles; the power of creative collaboration comes from being able to harness this.

Like-minded teams

I not only use all the brains that I have, but all that I can borrow!

Woodrow Wilson, US President 1913-21

A team consisting of the people with the same thinking style will typically respond to a creative brief in ways consistent with their style. They will reach a consensus quickly because they are on the same wavelength. However, they can be competitive and will tend to focus on the parts of the creative process that interest them and that they have the mental skills to complete.

Diverse teams

A team consisting of people reflecting all the different thinking styles will behave in an entirely different way to a like-minded team. Their diversity of styles and skills is extremely powerful in the context of creativity. However, the diverse team often experiences difficulty reaching consensus and this can cause problems throughout the creative process unless carefully managed.