Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Creative Thinking Process - Three Examples

Thinking (Photo credit: Moyan_Brenn)
by Colin Bates

Creative thinking can be learnt.

And to do so it helps to understand the creative thinking process: the structure and steps that you need to take to generate (and sometimes evaluate) creative ideas.

Here are 3 examples of the creative thinking process.

They all start with a definition of the creative challenge, or creative goal. In my case, this is to 'generate new ideas for a holiday'.

Information, Incubation, Ideation

This creative thinking process begins with gathering information. To generate ideas we need input, ideas won't emerge from an empty vessel! In my case, looking for ideas for a holiday, I'd go online, talk to friends, look through the travel magazines ... any relevant source of information!

Next, relax. Put the challenge to one side. Forget about it. Let the information incubate in your mind. This process is rooted in the belief that generating ideas should be natural, stress-free and almost effortless. Let the mind do it's work in the subconscious.

The key thing is to make sure you're ready to capture the ideas as they emerge. Because the final ideation stage is quite fluid you need to be ready to write down the ideas before they're lost.

Keep a notebook handy, especially on the bedside table, so that you can write down the ideas as soon as they emerge. You'll soon find you have plenty of great ideas!

Observe, combine, create

This process begins in a similar way: observation is a way of gathering information. The key to this process is combine. It's a technique of idea generation which involves taking existing ideas, and combining them to create something new.

This process is great for creating new products. As a very simple example, putting a camera into a mobile phone combined two existing products to create something new.

For my holiday, I might see a 'foodies' holiday in Italy, but chose to combine it with my original destination, Thailand. This inspiration could result in a tour around the gastronomic hotspots to sample Thai cuisine.

Dreamer, Realist, Critic

This final creative thinking process involves not just generating ideas, but also evaluating and improving them. It's know as 'The Disney Way' as it was originally used by Walt Disney to generate ideas and evaluate ideas for his movies.

The Dreamer is free of all constraints, has infinite resources and anything they think of is guaranteed to succeed. This mindset is designed to overcome limitations, and generate the 'free thinking' required to come up with great and outrageous ideas.

The Realist is more practical: evaluating and refining ideas.

And finally, The Critic asks if the ideas are really good enough. If not, it's back to The Dreamer!

As I search for a holiday, I might dream of going to the moon. Not possible, but as I become a realist it will trigger more thoughts. Perhaps I could visit NASA? Or try skydiving? Or visit Area 51?

In summary: Three Creative Thinking Processes

Next time you have a challenge that requires a creative solution, try using these techniques. You'll soon be developing your creative thinking skills, and generating more and better ideas too!

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