7 Creative Thinking Techniques Everyone Should Know

In today’s rapidly changing world, creative thinking has become a valuable skill for both individuals and organizations. It allows us to come up with new and innovative solutions to complex problems, and to approach challenges in a unique and effective way.

Imagine you are struggling to stay motivated and engaged in your studies. Instead of taking the traditional approach of studying harder or longer, let’s try a creative thinking technique called “brainstorming.”

First, take a blank sheet of paper and write down the problem you’re facing in the center of the page. For example, “I’m finding it hard to stay motivated and engaged in my studies.” Then, set a timer for 5-10 minutes and start writing down as many ideas as you can think of, without judging or filtering them.

Some ideas might include:

  • Finding a study group or accountability partner to help stay on track.
  • Creating a reward system for achieving certain study goals, like treating yourself to a favorite snack or activity.
  • Trying different study methods or locations to break up the monotony.
  • Listening to music or ambient noise to create a more stimulating study environment.
  • Breaking up study sessions into shorter intervals to avoid burnout.
  • Incorporating physical activity or movement breaks into study sessions.

Creative thinking will not only improve your thinking ability but also improve your ability to make decisions.

Here are seven creative thinking techniques that everyone should know:

1. Mind Mapping

Mind mapping is a creative thinking technique that allows you to organize and visually represent your ideas in a non-linear, brainstorming format. The technique involves starting with a central idea or topic and then branching out into subtopics and related ideas in a hierarchical manner.

creative thinking technique mind mapping
Example Image from mindmapping.com

To create a mind map, begin by writing the central idea or topic in the center of a blank piece of paper or a digital mind mapping tool. Then, branch out from the center with major subtopics, connecting each subtopic to the center with a line. From there, continue branching out into more specific subtopics and ideas, using lines and keywords to connect them to their corresponding subtopics.

One of the benefits of mind mapping is that it allows you to see connections and relationships between ideas that you might not have otherwise considered. It also encourages creativity and free-flowing thinking, as you are not restricted to a linear or structured outline.

To use mind mapping effectively, there are a few minor techniques to keep in mind:

  • Use single keywords or phrases to represent each idea or subtopic, rather than full sentences or paragraphs.
  • Use different colors and images to differentiate between different subtopics and ideas, which can help with memory retention and visual organization.
  • Prioritize the most important or relevant ideas in the center and place less important or related ideas farther away from the center.
  • Allow yourself to brainstorm and free-associate without judging or filtering your ideas.

2. Take a walk

Taking a walk is a simple yet effective way to clear your mind and stimulate creative thinking. When you go for a walk, you are able to disconnect from the constant stimulation of technology and allow your mind to wander freely.

During a walk, you can focus on the sensory experience of your surroundings, such as the sound of birds, the feeling of the sun on your skin, or the sight of a beautiful landscape. This can help to reduce stress and increase mental clarity, which can lead to more creative and innovative ideas.

Also, taking a walk can be a great way to get some physical exercise, which has been shown to have a positive impact on cognitive function and creativity.

To use taking a walk as a creative thinking technique, it’s important to approach it with intention. Try to set aside a specific amount of time to walk without any distractions, such as your phone or other technology.

It’s also helpful to bring along a notebook or recording device to capture any ideas that come to mind during your walk. These ideas can be further developed and explored once you return to a more structured environment.

3. Six Thinking Hats

Six Thinking Hats is a technique created by Edward de Bono that assists individuals and groups in making decisions and solving problems in a structured and comprehensive way. The approach involves using six different “hats” or modes of thinking, each represented by a different color, to examine and assess a problem or situation.

The six hats represent different types of thinking:

  1. White Hat: Factual thinking. This involves analyzing available information and data to objectively evaluate the situation.
  2. Red Hat: Emotional thinking. This involves considering feelings and intuition to subjectively evaluate the situation.
  3. Black Hat: Critical thinking. This involves identifying potential issues and risks associated with the situation.
  4. Yellow Hat: Positive thinking. This involves identifying potential opportunities and benefits associated with the situation.
  5. Green Hat: Creative thinking. This involves brainstorming new ideas and possibilities to solve the problem or enhance the situation.
  6. Blue Hat: Strategic thinking. This involves considering the big picture and evaluating the overall plan and process.
creative thinking technique six thinking hat
Image from 42Courses

To use Six Thinking Hats effectively, individuals or groups can take turns “wearing” each hat and approaching the problem or situation from that specific mode of thinking. This technique allows for a comprehensive and structured analysis of the problem or situation, and encourages creativity and innovation by considering multiple perspectives and ideas.

It is a powerful technique that can be used to approach problem-solving and decision-making in a structured and comprehensive way. It can help you generate innovative ideas and solutions by examining a situation from different angles and perspectives.

4. Storyboarding

Storyboarding is a technique used to plan and visualize ideas for a project or story. It involves creating a series of sketches or illustrations, arranged in a sequence, to convey the storyline or idea. Storyboarding is commonly used in film, animation, advertising, and other creative fields.

Storyboarding mainly is used to visualize the idea or project in a concrete way. By creating a visual representation of the story or idea, individuals or teams can better evaluate the flow, pacing, and impact of the project. Storyboarding also allows for easy communication and collaboration among team members, as it provides a clear and tangible way to share ideas and concepts.

To use storyboarding effectively, individuals or teams can follow these steps:

  1. Start with a clear idea or concept. The first step in storyboarding is to have a clear idea or concept for the project. This can include a script, a plot outline, or even just a basic idea or theme.
  2. Create a rough sketch. Once the concept is clear, you can begin sketching out the basic scenes or elements of the project. These sketches should be rough and basic, focusing on capturing the essence of the scene or idea.
  3. Organize the sequence. Then the basic sketches are complete, you can organize them into a sequence. This will help you determine the flow and pacing of the project.
  4. Refine the sketches. After the sequence is established, you must refine the sketches to better convey the story or idea. This can include adding more details, adjusting the composition, or experimenting with different visual styles.
  5. Review and revise. Finally, the storyboard should be reviewed and revised as necessary. This can include adding or removing scenes, adjusting the pacing, or refining the visual elements.

5. Reverse Thinking

Reverse Thinking, also known as reverse brainstorming, is a technique used to generate creative ideas by considering the opposite of the problem or challenge at hand. Instead of focusing on solutions to the problem, individuals or teams identify ways to make the problem worse or create new problems. By considering the opposite of the problem, individuals or teams can come up with unique and unexpected solutions.

The main purpose of Reverse Thinking is to challenge assumptions and biases and to encourage innovative thinking. By considering the opposite of the problem, individuals or teams can break out of their usual patterns of thinking and come up with new and innovative solutions.

To use Reverse Thinking effectively, individuals or teams can follow these steps:

  1. Define the problem or challenge at hand.
  2. Reverse the problem by asking unconventional questions.
  3. Generate unexpected ideas for solving the reversed problem.
  4. Reverse each idea by considering the opposite.
  5. Evaluate and implement the most innovative solutions.

6. The Questions Checklist

Question Checklist is a powerful creative thinking technique that involves asking a series of questions to generate new ideas and perspectives. This technique can be used individually or in a group setting and is particularly effective when tackling complex problems or challenges.

In order to use the Question Checklist technique, begin by identifying the problem or challenge at hand. Once the problem has been defined, we can start generating questions using the following checklist:

  1. What if…?
  2. Why not…?
  3. How can we…?
  4. What would happen if…?
  5. What are the similarities between…?
  6. What are the differences between…?
  7. What are the advantages of…?
  8. What are the disadvantages of…?
  9. What if we combined…?
  10. What if we eliminated…?

By using this checklist, we can generate a wide range of questions that challenge assumptions and encourage creative thinking. These questions can then be used to generate new ideas, perspectives, and solutions to the problem or challenge at hand.

It’s important to note that the Question Checklist technique is not a one-size-fits-all solution, and it may not work for every problem or challenge. However, it is a useful tool to have in your creative thinking arsenal and can be particularly effective when used in combination with other creative thinking techniques.

Related Read:
Unlock Your Potential: 11 Self Reflection Questions for Growth
5 STOIC Questions For Self-Reflection To Change The Way You Perceive Life

7. Reframe the situation

Reframing is a powerful creative thinking technique that involves changing the interpretation of a situation or problem in order to see it in a new light. By altering the way we view a situation, we can unlock new possibilities and generate innovative solutions.

Imagine that you’re stuck in traffic and you’re getting frustrated because you’re going to be late for an important meeting. Instead of getting angry and stressed out, you could reframe the situation by thinking of it as an opportunity to catch up on your favorite podcast or audiobook. You could also think about how lucky you are to have a car and the ability to travel to work, as not everyone has that privilege. By reframing the situation, you can turn a negative experience into a positive one and reduce your stress levels.

Considering different points of view is essential when reframing a situation. What does it mean to other people? By understanding different perspectives and interpretations, we can expand our own thinking and generate more creative solutions.

By asking ourselves key questions and challenging our current assumptions, we can shift our perspective and find new ways to approach a problem or situation.

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