Creative thinking made easy: 5 proven methods for your best ideas

Creative Thinking is only something for artists? Wrong! With Creative Thinking, you solve problems, come up with unconventional ideas and adopt new perspectives. People who think “outside the box” face new challenges with an open mind. 5 easy steps show you how you can personally benefit from it.

When people talk about Creative Thinking, many of us immediately believe that it has something to do with artists and other creative geniuses. Often we are intimidated by such beliefs. Only very few people consider themselves creative or even artistic.

But Creative Thinking is not limited to artworks and their artists. Creative Thinking is a methodology that anyone can learn and constantly improve. Creative Thinking helps us to take new and sometimes unconventional perspectives. It often makes it much easier to solve problems and find new ideas much faster.

The 5 methods at a glance

1. Get out of the box

2. Don’t go back into the box

3. Stick to your ideas

4. Look for new irritations every day

5. Allow mistakes

In this article, I show you in 5 simple steps how to do that and how to find your own way to banish conventional thinking from your mind completely.

Solve problems in unconventional ways with Creative Thinking

“Creative thinking” is the ability to look at something in a new way. This ability is hidden in all of us and we all have an almost unlimited creative potential. It is just waiting to finally be put to use. “Creative Thinking” is a systematic process that uses this creative potential to look specifically for solutions and new ideas. When applied correctly, it brings to light aspects that no one has ever thought of before in such a special way. “Thinking outside the box” is by far the most important step in the overall process. This is where the best and most unconventional ideas are generated, which in the end can be the decisive piece of the puzzle for the best of all solutions.

1 Get out of the box

“Thinking outside the box” is easy to say, but difficult to realize. To understand how this can succeed, we must first clarify what this “box” actually is and why it makes creative thinking so difficult for us.

Each of us has a very individual “box”. It is made out of our own experiences and what we have learned from others. It contains all the already known concepts, ideas, expectations and traditions that make us experts in a particular field. In addition, the box is full of successes and failures accumulated in the past. All this together forms the limits of our own imagination. These limits are, so to speak, the “box” itself. Everything that lies within the limits of our own box is also called convergent information.

Divergent information as a new ingredient for our mind

To overcome our own limitations, we need new food for our minds a new ingredient, so to speak. We need divergent information, because we already have plenty of everything else in our box. Here are some key examples of what such a thing might be:

  • something false
  • something absurd
  • something irrelevant
  • something that takes our thoughts far away from the actual target

With divergent information we make our mind realize things it has never realized before in this way and in this context.

2 Don’t go back into the box

Within the limits of one’s box, life is good and safe. Everything, that gives us a clear direction, is contained here. No wonder we want to return there again and again. But you have to resist this temptation, and what Giovanni Corazza, founder of the Marconi Institute for Creativity, calls “Long Thinking” will help you to do so.

As experts in our field, we are in the habit of focusing. We get straight to the point in everything we think and say. Scientists also describe this as “Brilliant Thinking”, “Deep Thinking” or “Fast Thinking”. Creativity, however, needs a different approach.

Seek alternatives, not solutions

When we listen to music, we don’t judge whether we like a song based on a single note. We don’t say, “I’ve already heard twelve beautiful notes in this piece. As soon as I hear one more great note, I’ll give the whole piece a like.” Music becomes a pleasure to listen to not by the accumulation of individual notes but by the combination of all the notes in it. Long Thinking is working precisely upon this insight.

In creative thinking, there are no correct answers or perfect solutions; on the contrary, there is an abundance of new combinations of ideas. Long thinking is the constant search for such combinations. Long Thinking is based on the belief that new ideas are not depending on a finite number of ideas that one has to reach. Instead, each new combination has a value in itself.

To think out of the box is easy to say but actually very hard to do. You can’t just do it like breathing or singing, you need to practice it. You need to know how to get out of the box

Giovanni Corazza

3 Stick to your ideas

There are many explanations why we throw ideas overboard that once seemed right to us. As personal as the reasons may be, in most cases it is our own attitude and our lack of courage towards unconventional ideas that make us doubt. We believe that if our idea actually would be good one, someone else would have already put it into practice long before us. Or we think we are not the right person for such an excellent idea.

With an unbiased analysis you will overcome even the biggest self-doubts

Such self-doubts are quite natural. They arise in us without that we intentionally control the doubts about a new idea. Get over this doubt and don’t be too critical with yourself! Take your time and look for 3-4 objective reasons why your idea could be a success and write it all down. Next, look for 3-4 reasons why the project would fail. Write down these points as well.

The goal of this exercise is to shift your own focus away from your inner self-doubt to a rational analysis of the starting point and the possible outcomes. This is a decisive step that will help you to release your inner blocks.

With this rational distance, you open up for new alternative ideas. Now take your notes on the positive reasons again and go through them point by point. Look for possible combinations with other ideas you had earlier in your considerations. This will bring you to entirely new ideas, guaranteed!

4 Look for new irritations every day

Creative thinking is not a single moment in our lives that comes and then vanishes. The ability to think creatively is a general mindset that is part of our everyday life and keeps us open-minded for unconventional ideas. In a different Articel I have already written in detail about easy practices that will help you to achieve such a mindset and develop it continuously.

Our creativity muscle can be turned into a superpower with proper training

All of the exercises have two things in common: First, they are a collection of new habits that we can easily implement into our daily routine. Creative thinking thus becomes a permanent part of our lives, allowing us to better master many challenging situations. But above all, with these exercises we willingly open ourselves to new divergent information. In this way, we confront our mind with smaller and larger irritations that allow us to break out of hidden thought patterns and that will inspire us to make new associations. In this way, our creativity muscle really gains strength. When properly trained, this muscle becomes your new superpower in creative thinking.

5 Allow mistakes

Whenever you try out new ideas or solutions, there is a risk that you will make mistakes. However, such mistakes are not the end of a new idea, they are the real path to succeed!

Be curious about what your mistakes will teach you next

Making mistakes is inevitable. But every new mistake gives us a unique chance to learn new things and to improve. Often the fear of doing something wrong is the much bigger enemy for creative thinking. Every mistake you consciously accept provides you valuable information and eventually opens new and unknown doors for you. Instead of being afraid of your mistakes, give your failures a worth on their own. Let them become a kind of teacher for you. In the end, we learn more from our failures than from our triumphs. So be curious about what your next mistake will teach you. It will happen for sure, your next mistake

Photo Credits: Photo by SHaHraM Anhari  on Unsplash

Written by

Dennis Grönger

4 Posts

My name is Dennis Grönger. I am an innovation developer, product manager and certified Design Thinking Master with a passion for complex projects. In the 25+ years of my career, I have worked with and for a wide variety of companies – from large international groups to agile start-ups.
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