6 Steps Toward More Creative Thinking: Change Is Good!

August 28, 2015

Creative thinking means: Change. Innovate. Transform. Reengineer. Imagine. Think Outside the Box.

Every day we are asked to consider how we can approach our personal and professional lives in a manner that will deliver greater impact. As the summer season comes to a close and the seasonal associations with school days and new learning opportunities take over, let’s look at six simple steps that we can bring more creative thinking into the ideas deliver for ourselves and our clients.

1. Look for contradictions all around you.

The sharing economy is the ultimate expression of this approach to creative thinking. Airbnb, Uber, and all the others Creative thinking needs contrasts...take advantage of underutilized services to create new revenue streams. Contradiction resolved.

P & G created the disposable heating pad product, ThermaCare®, as they studied the contradictions faced by baby boomers who did not want to live with the aches and pains of aging, nor the physical impacts of anti-inflammatory medications.

What are the contradictions that you have seen so far today that represent an opportunity for creative thinking toward change?

2. Don’t be so quick to dismiss the obvious.

Symbols  matter to Creative Thinking.For years, we have used the Red, Yellow, and Green color commands to influence our behavior. One of my favorite case studies from the book Switch involved hospital healthcare professionals putting on bright orange vests while preparing patient medications. The vest signified “Stop” and as such, interruptions to the professionals preparing the medications dropped tremendously as did the decrease in mediation error rates. In hindsight, the adjustment through creative thinking presents itself as such a simple solution. Let’s not be so quick to dismiss the obvious or to transfer such learning to a new platform.

3. Expertise is found where you least expect it.

Customer insights provide the necessary direction that we take each day in our marketing roles. However, we must not forget that our Eureka moments…even our “Yeah, that makes a lot of sense moments”…can come from where you least expect. Over my career, I have transferred knowledge from the financial industry to the petroleum industry to the extended warranty industry into the nonprofit sector.

Be committed to working with people from completely different industries, political viewpoints, and age and life stages. Partnering with those who bring diverse skills and talents challenges the status quo—a critical success factor in change management, idea generation, and creative thinking.

4. Small is big.

The irony behind many break-through changes that have taken place is that such changes are actually the result of many small tweaks.

Yes, A/B Testing is Still Necessary (HBR) even when the control group wins out. Like a diet plan that suggests a slow, steady change in one’s diet and exercise habits, we forget that retrospectively, it is the small changes, which managed effectively, can create very different ways of doing something. Small is often big.

5. It’s okay to get silly, play a favorite childhood game, or pretend to be an artist. Having fun is a step toward Creative Thinking.

Get out the jigsaw puzzles. Swing that Hula-Hoop around your hips. Build the Jenga tower and squeal with delight when it breaks down. Personally, I am trying to transform a mannequin into a piece of artwork. I keep her near my desk with an assortment of craft supplies. When I need a change in my thought patterns for more creative thinking, I look to her to change up my trend of thought.

6. A climate of reciprocal trust.

We need to consciously force ourselves to trust those that we work with more often. Noting beats the intrinsic energy that one feels when they are shown trust and respect in their potential to deliver. Suddenly the concept of change and risking creative thinking is less intimidating. And, the ideas come forth.

Change is good!

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