How to Boost Your Creative Thinking

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‘There is no doubt that creativity is the most important human resource of all. Without creativity, there would be no progress, and we would be forever repeating the same patterns’ (Edward De Bono).

Creative thinking is a process fuelled by conscious and unconscious insight: of generating ideas, concepts and associations, and an ability to make connections between seemingly unrelated things – like a subconscious game of ‘join-the-dots’. As children, there are no limits to our imagination. An ugly concrete pavement can suddenly transform into a flowing pool of lava, and a toilet roll can magically turn into a portal to reach another galaxy. However, as we get older, we find ourselves using our creative muscle less and less. More often than not, our daily routines, work environment, and self-confidence, all play a part in diminishing our ability – and desire – to think creatively.

Despite our waning propensity to think creatively, in the context of business, it is essential. Creative thinking enables you to solve problems, identify opportunities and generate innovative ideas. This, in turn, can help you to build your competitive edge and stand out from the crowd. And that is the case, as much in a start-up, as it is in an established business. In the words of entrepreneur and author James Altucher, ‘Ideas are the currency of the 21st Century’.

Whilst creative thinking can be second nature to some, others can struggle to come up with new ideas. Wherever you fall on the ideas-generating scale, the good news is your creative thinking ability can be developed, just like any other skill. Consider it a muscle which we can flex. To boost your creative thinking, try applying the following techniques whenever the opportunity arises

Whilst brainstorming is probably one of the most common and well-known creative thinking techniques, it is not the only method - nor the most effective one. Below, you will find some other creative thinking techniques you can experiment with to help you generate ideas and solve problems in imaginative and unorthodox ways. 

So, the next time you find yourself stuck in a creative rut, why not try one of these techniques?

Ask yourself open-ended questions: Ask yourself, ‘Who? What? Where? Why? How? When?’ The answers to these questions will help you find the root of the problem and explore potential solutions.

“What if” your thoughts: To combat any self-limiting beliefs, imagine some “What if” scenarios.

Think of the best case scenario: What would this look like? Is there anything from this vision which you can apply to your current situation?

Talk to other people: Network with others to seek a diverse range of perspectives. Try to talk to people outside your industry, as well as to those who have a different identity and background to you.

Combine things: Combine two completely different concepts or functions to come up with something new. Or, if you see something working well for a business from another industry, apply that to your own business context.

Make incremental improvements: Rather than changing things dramatically, are there any small steps you can take to improve things gradually?

Flip things: Turn things on their head - do the opposite to normal - to see if you can achieve your desired results whilst using non-conventional methods.

Break down the components of a product, service or process, and concentrate on these rather than the subject in its entirety; Is there anything there which you can remove or augment to change things for the better?

And finally, take a break from the norm: Step away from your normal routine. Do things differently, or in a different order to usual. Talk to someone you haven’t talked to for a while. Read something new - unrelated to your area of work. Go somewhere unfamiliar - literally and metaphorically. And, most importantly, switch off.

If this topic of creative thinking inspires you to introduce new things into your business, then join me and Workshop Leader, Barbara Armstrong OBE, at the next Thrive ‘Healthy Business’ Workshop on ‘How to Innovate as a Small Business Owner’ next Tuesday, 15 December from 10am until 12pm. To book your ticket, go to: