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Creative Thinking

Creative thinking is the process of coming up with new or modified ideas.

Most ideas are in fact modifications of something else that exists within your knowledge base.

By using imagination, intellect and existing knowledge you can form in your mind a new thought or idea.

This is part of your intellectual personality and can be applied to everyday situations.

The Graham Wallas Creative Thinking Process

Graham Wallas came up with and published a model for the creative thinking process in his book \”The Art of Thought\” back in the early 1920\’s.

Wallas\’ model has four steps.

  1. Preparation: This is the most important first step where you focus all of your efforts on the problem at hand.
  2. Incubation: This is basically where you let the problem sit for a while with your subconscious mind. In this step nothing much actually appears to be happening.
  3. Illumination: In this step the creative idea comes to light or comes forward to the conscious mind. Everything begins to fall into place
  4. Verification: Here the idea is verified, checked and tested to ensure that it works. For example by using a prototype.

Thought Processing Functions

Three human thought processing functions drive your ability for creative thinking:

  1. Strategy: How you organize and plan your thought processes. Evaluation of thoughts and ideas and future plans based on any given situation or problem.
  2. Knowledge base: Your acquired information on a group of subjects and problem domains. You draw on this information in order to be able to solve problems or add new thinking to situations.
  3. Motivation and your attitude: Such factors are often driven by your personality, energy levels, perseverance and your self-confidence which in turn are acquired from a lifetime of experiences and interactions. Motivation and attitude affects the decisions and direction that you take in order to get to a desired result.

To Kick Start Your Creative Thinking Thought Processes…

  1. Start thinking outside the box.
  2. Observe what others do and ask lots of questions as to why they do something in a particular way.
  3. Read widely – including non-familiar subject areas.


  1. Look to resolve problems in uniques ways and after first considering how others have solved similar problems.
  2. Add some colors that inspire creativity to your personal workspace. Being surrounded by colors that elicit positive emotions can be an important catalyst towards creative thinking.
  3. Look beyond your local environment and see what others are doing.
  4. Take responsibility for your own personal creative skills development – thanks to the Internet vast amounts of information are readily available to all.
  5. View Some creativity quotes.
  6. Have fun – coming up with new and creative ideas to problems can be a fun and enjoyable experience.


  1. Be passionate – every idea has many reasons why it won\’t work, if you have passion you will find many ways to offset those reasons.
  2. Turn things upside down – thinking of how things would behave when turned back to front can often bring new ideas to your problems. When concorde was invented they had a problem in that the pilots couldn\’t view past the nose. A first idea was to turn the cockpit literally upside down and have the viewing window below the nose – eventually though they came up with a more practical solution i.e. allowing the nose to turn at an angle.


  1. Look at some of the existing creativity symbols or have a go at designing your own symbol of creativity.
  2. Be curious – ask questions that others haven\’t. Try and ask inquisitive questions such as – why is it done that way? Explore and pursue the idea. Take on some calculated risks.
  3. Learn how to use Edward De Bono’s Six Thinking Hats technique.
  4. Take some inspiration from the one of the most prolific inventors the world has ever seen Thomas Alva Edison.
  5. Don\’t restrict creativity to brainstorming sessions only – always ask yourself if things could be done a better way.
  6. And don\’t only use brainstorming as a tool for generating creative ideas. For a change try brainwriting this method can often get more of the team involved by asking them to write ideas down or expand on existing ideas by writing on a piece of paper which is passed around the group.
  7. Be flexible and open to new possibilities. Push beyond routine by trying new approaches to familiar daily tasks.
  8. Be willing to question all assumptions.
  9. Be aware of the barriers to creativity.
  10. You don\’t have to limit creativity to that important work assignment or to your latest project. Practice being more creative by applying everyday creativity to your life. This can be as simple as taking a different route to work or cooking something new for dinner.
  11. Adopt a creative personality.
  12. Realize that you don\’t have to be a genius to come up with great ideas and so take steps now to start improving your creativity.
  13. Start drawing… If you don’t feel your artistic talents are strong enough for this then click here for an excellent creative art site. The site offers a wide range of tutorial courses and video on pencil art, including how to do particular studies such as portraits, wildlife, nudes and landscapes.
  14. Teach creativity to others by giving a creativity lecture.
  15. Collect visual images either by doing an image search on the Internet or by browsing through magazines. Look at each image you have collected and challenge yourself to come up with a new idea to improve it in some way.
  16. Bookmark websites that inspire creativity or promote new ideas (like this one!). Also bookmark web sites that are relevant to your particular problem or creative idea. Combining others ideas or adding new information and facts to what you already know can be a great input to your creative thinking.
  17. Listen to your favourite music. Create a playlist of tracks that inspire you. From classical to rock, pop or hip hop – whatever works best for you.
  18. Create a creative place for you to work from. There is much you can do to your workplace to make it more conducive to creativity – from decluttering to visual aids and lighting.
  19. Ask yourself why a product or service is as it is? Is there anything that can be improved? Is there a completely different way of performing the same service. Can a product be redesigned so as to provide the same functionality in an entirely different way? Is all that functionality necessary or conversely could there be more functionality? Ask as many questions as you can, particularly the ones that challenge existing knowledge, experience and assumptions. Most innovations begin with someone asking a simple question.
  20. Research conducted in 2012 said that rather than being at your most creative when you are alert you are more likely to be at your most creative when you\’re feeling a little bit groggy. So perhaps leave your creative thinking moments to the parts of the day when you\’re feeling a little less energetic than normal.                                                                                                                                                                     
  21. Stop making excuses!                                                                                                                                                
  22. Start playing, think imaginatively. Play with your ideas and concepts. Imagine new solutions to your problem. Don\’t jump too quickly to conclusions.                                                                                                                               
  23. Look for new patterns, relationships, combinations and directions. What can you make that\’s new when you combine things?                                    

Creative thinking is driven by convergent thinking and divergent thinking and every decision that you make in a typical day involves these two components.

As humans we are creative but sometimes we fail to fully utilize this skill.

Creative thinking reduces stress and can make you more successful.

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