Creative Thinking Techniques to Spark Imagination
There’s a lot more to creativity than blurting out a few ideas. The process of coming up with interesting and innovative ideas, simply known as creative thinking, is a skill that requires a lot of brain power and energy to produce that “golden ticket” idea. It can be exhausting, and at times, you may feel like you’re at a wall, especially if you’re juggling many projects. Here are some techniques to upkeep creative thinking without coming to a hard stop.
Let’s start with the most popular strategy: mind mapping. This timeless, classic way of creative thinking never fails. The key is to take note of every idea that comes up, generating as many ideas as possible and leaving no thought neglected. The end result is to find that golden “Aha!” idea.
The Whys, Wheres, Whens, Whos, and Hows
As adults, we have the tendency to lack imagination because we start to accept more ideas that are concrete and are explainable. Have you ever played the “why?” game with a kid and listened to his or her long and elaborate reasoning behind why the ocean is blue or why the grass is green? Their curiosity never fails to ignite the imaginative part of the brain. Get in the practice of being more curious and asking yourself questions like why, where, when, who, what, and how to upkeep your imagination and thirst for knowledge.
Take A Break
Listen to your mind and don’t underestimate the power of a fried brain. If you’re starting to get burnt out, then get yourself out, do something relaxing, and recharge your mind. You never know—a miraculous idea may pop into your head when you least expect it.
Put on Your Thinking Hats
Developed by Edward de Bono, this should sound familiar, as it’s a popular creative thinking technique that was most likely taught to you during a creative writing class. The “hats” are assorted in different colors and are associated with a different direction of thinking. Think of the Sorting Hat from Harry Potter, except these metaphorical hats are for thinking. Here is the break down for each color:
White Hat = Facts
Red Hat = Emotions
Black hat = Judgment
Yellow Hat = Logic
Green Hat = Creativity
Blue Hat = Control
The purposes of these hats are to allow yourself to rationally think and decide on a solution.
Bono’s Lateral Thinking
This is another way of creative thinking coined by Edward de Bono, which involves looking at your situation from a new or different perspective. Dig deep into your long-term memory and you may remember the phrase, “The obvious answer is not always the right answer.” Or maybe you recall learning about the linear fashion way of thinking, where you solve or rationalize a problem by telling yourself, “If something happens, it must have been because of…”
Bono simply suggests trying to find an answer through a different perspective than the linear fashion way of thinking, which is mostly what our minds resort to when solving a problem. Remember, it’s like he said, “You cannot dig a hole in a different place by digging the same hole deeper.”
If you are really stuck, grab a friend or co-worker and get “silly” to provoke some imagination and creativity. Random word generation is a fun technique that is a great way to loosen up your mind and, believe it or not, can spark creativity. Grab some pieces of paper, write a random word on each piece, mix them up in a hat or bowl, and pick out two words, then try to connect your subject with them. You can even do a search for an online generator that will do the work for you if you’re ready to get down to the creativity process.
If all else fails, do a search for an image that relates to your topic and start developing a story around how the photo was taken. This doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily stick to the ideas, but similar to the random word generator technique, it takes the stress out of corporate creative thinking and creates a more easygoing environment. The more relaxed you are and the more you’re enjoying the process, the less likely you are to strain yourself trying to come up with that golden idea.
Feel like you’ve got the tools to start generating some amazing ideas now? Great! We’re excited for you to try out these techniques. Keep in mind that creative thinking and the techniques that go along with it are not a “step one, step two, by the books” process… They’re meant to be creative and imaginative, so loosen up and start thinking!