Developing Creative Thinking Skills by Cindy Stradling CSL, CPC

Creative thinking includes elements of creativity combined with the ability to work with data, input, and information. While some people are more likely to be creative thinkers naturally, it is also a skill that can be developed.

Thinking creativity is important in the workplace. It allows for new, innovative, flexible and adaptive solutions that may springboard off of current practices or develop a completely unique approach to a problem, challenge or an issue.

To develop creative thinking skills, try one or more of these strategies on a daily basis. The more you try, the more you will find ways to start thinking outside of the box and expanding the possible solutions.

  • Learn your creative state – people may be more creative when they have time to think about something without interruption. Others may find talking and bouncing ideas off others is a starting point for generating new and unique ways to consider options. There are also those who find movement to be a state that generates creativity. Thinking while taking a walk, pacing the office or even playing outside with the kids may be the best state for creativity.
  • Learn your creative time – most people are more creative during certain times of the day. This may be in the morning when you are fresh, and your mind is free from the challenges of the day, it may be in the afternoon when you are accomplishing your tasks or in the evening when you are relaxing and winding down.
  • Accept all ideas – just as you brainstorm and accept all ideas without judgment, creative thinking starts with generating a list of possible options or solutions, no matter how outside of the box they may be. Jot them down and then think about the benefits of each one, before limiting your options by crossing anything off the list.
  • Daydream on an issue – one of the best ways to tap into your creative side is to let your mind wander through a problem. Relax, sit back, get comfortable and just let the thoughts wind through all the possibilities, no matter how outside of the current thinking they may be.
  • Change your language – changing language from “this won’t work” to “how could we make this work” goes from negative and closed thinking to open and creative thinking.
  • Doodle – if you are a doodler, let it happen. Doodling on a pad, a whiteboard or even on an app while thinking about a problem can be very helpful in triggering your creative side. It is not the quality of the doodle that counts; it is the associated change in thinking that provides the benefits.

Finally, talk to people you see as creative, innovative thinkers. Ask them how they developed their skills and what strategies they use to come up with unique solutions and options.