Creative thinking is neither simple nor easy.
Even though our minds are full with brilliant ideas its difficult to get them out on demand without the proper mental attitude and approach. (**article updated at 3/9/13**)
Last week I have mentioned several brainstorming techniques.
Today I would like to discuss methods to encourage your creativity and get the most from brainstorming.
Don’t mix idea generation with evaluation
Creative problem solving requires both a divergent and convergent mindset. Generating ideas is divergent, and the more ideas you can get the merrier. Evaluating them is convergent. You need to narrow down the options and select the best possible solutions to your problem.
Effective problem solving requires these to activities to be separated. First generate as many ideas as you can and then evaluate and analyse them. Mixing those two processes together, in most cases, will yield you a few overanalyzed ideas, and will also create a negative climate that will restrict your creativity. Save the analysis for after all the possible ideas have been generated.
Test your assumptions
Its natural for people to see what we think we see. And most of times people act without realising or thinking of the consequences. Testing your assumptions is important because it can lead to new horizons and breakthroughs. To do that simply keep up questioning even things you take for granted, till you can no longer find questions. The more questions you ask, the better you will understand the problem. More importantly you’d be sure you try to solve the real problem!!
Avoid thinking with patterns or by habit
Most people have our own secure and comfortable way of doing things. Creative thinking though isn’t about being comfortable. To break out our patterns and habits we need to make a concious effort first to become aware of them and then try to practice changing them.
Create new perspectives
To produce something new, we must first see something new. That could be a previously overlooked element or a combination of previously unconnected elements. Becoming deeply involved with a problem even though gives you in some cases a better understanding of it. It can also narrow your perspective and cause you to lose sight of the big picture. Such times is always a good idea to take a big break and revisit later the problem with a renewed perspective and mindset.
Minimize negative thinking
At the evaluation stage its not uncommon to reject some ideas out right. Be sure it’s for the right reasons and not an automatic rejection response. Think first and criticize later. And while this sounds reasonable we are conditioned to the exact opposite. Try to view your ideas as a raw material, and see how it could evolve. Always try to think at least one positive aspect even on ideas that appear completely useless.
Take prudent risks
Not all risks are equal. For example implementing an idea is much more risky than suggesting it. A bad idea might cost an organization much more than embarassment. So always remember that ideas are raw material for a solution and not the final product. Not all your ideas have to be good, so don’t be afraid to examine them in different perspectives. A breakthrough might be hidden in seamingly stupid idea.
Hope you enjoyed this article! I am looking forward to hear your ideas and suggestions on the topic. See you next time!