Yes, everyone can think more creatively

By John Howkins

We’ve recently been training people on how to think more creatively. Initially, many people just see the word ‘creative’ and assume it is about producing something that is creative: like a piece of art or an advertising concept.

But when we talk about creativity, it is more about how we think, and how all of us can all influence that in a consciously creative way.

It’s really about problem solving, and getting ourselves to go beyond default, autopilot thinking (which often produces obvious, linear ‘solutions’).

Some people like to see themselves as being creative (and sometimes they are not). Others don’t see themselves as being creative, when their thinking shows otherwise.

The thing about creative thinking is that it can be learned, and everyone can improve these abilities. The first step is to open your mind to thinking in a different way. With an open mind you can then learn some techniques and tools to help whenever you get stuck in your thinking.

One example we use illustrates that well-worn phrase ‘thinking outside the box’. People know the phrase but often don’t know that it came from this problem:

9 Dots

 

Draw four straight lines which go through the middle of all of the dots without taking the pen or pencil off the paper.

It may seem a bit like an infuriating quiz question to some, but however many times we say “The answer is in the phrase”, it can be difficult to get people to actually go ‘outside the box’.

Look up the answer if you want (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thinking_outside_the_box), but it’s not the answer that’s important. What’s important is the point that it illustrates – that we can solve a problem by finding new ways to get our thinking to be different.

We’ve been training all sorts of people from leading supermarket marketers to Government officials to embrace this kind of creativity. We hope some of it sticks.

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