Creative thinking (3/3) [Archives:2005/840/Culture]

May 9 2005

By Eng. Mohammed Al-tom
[email protected]
Electronics-Sana'a Branch Manager

Coaching for creativity

Many organizations use coaching to help their staff acquire new skills or develop existing ones. Understanding the coaching process, shows how you can use it to improve your creative potential, and set yourself goals to work towards.

What is coaching

Coaching is a useful tool that can help you develop your strength and improve your skills. There are a number of ways that coaching can be carried out, for example, through observation and feedback or through organized session with a personal coach. Coaching sessions, in which the coach provides leadership and a framework for generating creative ideas, are the most suitable method for developing creativity. The coach is able to support and guide the individual being coached (the coachee), and offer advice when necessary. By the end of the sessions, the coachee is also in a position to coach others-such as members of his team.

Finding a coach

Coaches lead by example. Thus, to be an effective creative thinking coach, the individual must understand how creativity works in practice. He or she must also have a good knowledge of the various techniques that can help develop creative thinking. Find a suitable professional coach and set up a series of coaching sessions. Alternatively, ask a friend to act as your coach. Before you have the first session, think through what you want to achieve during the coaching process. For example, decide that you want to learn how to deal with problems in a more creative way.

Being coached

During the first session, the coach should take the lead. He or she may ask you questions about your normal thinking processes or your reactions to particular situation. Discussing these issues will help you pinpoint what you could start to do differently. Allow the coach to prompt you to make suggestions. Then, set yourself achievable weekly targets and draw up an action plan. Agree how these will be monitored and set a date for the next coaching session.

Stimulating creative thinking

There is a wide range of tools that you can use to stimulate creative thinking processes. They are simple to use and effective in practice. Familiarize yourself with the different creative tools and start to understand how you can apply them.

Clarifying the outcome

In many situations, your reaction to a problem is instinctive. You may not even think about what outcome you actually require, and the results you finally get are therefore not always what you want. A useful way to approach a problem is to define the outcome before you start the problem-solving journey and then apply your creativity to achieving it. In this way, you will have reference points against which to evaluate your ideas. For example, if your desired outcome is to gain a new customer, focus your creative energies on achieving that

Using physical activity

Certain types of physical activity can provide the right conditions for creative thinking. This is because, when you exercise, your motor senses are occupied with the basics of keeping your body functioning effectively. This frees the creative part of your mind to explore ideas. Choose a sport that you enjoy and make it a regular part of your routine- take advantage of the time to think.

Using mind mapping

This process is designed to help you change the way you look at complex problem. When you are faced with a problem, impose it on to a “model” so that you view it in a different way. For example, draw the shape of a tree. Write down the main parts of the problem next to the large branches; note smaller aspects of the issue against the secondary branches, and so on. Once you have separated out the problem in this way, apply your creativity to each part of the issue, rather than trying to tackle the problem as an unwieldy whole.

Imposing a condition

When you impose an external condition on a problem, you change the way you look at it. For example, perhaps you want to buy a new house, but you have a budget problem. Instead of asking, “What can I get for my money?” ask, “How can I change my home without spending any money?” This might lead you to think of solutions you had not previously considered, such as remortgaging.

Recognizing the issue

A good solution to the wrong problem only creates more difficulties. Sometimes we get stuck on a problem, but we are not looking at the real issue. The “Five Ways” process helps you get to the root of a situation. When you are faced with a difficulty, ask yourself why it is a problem. Each time you respond to the question, ask “Why?” again, up to five times. This process will help you explore the deeper reasoning behind what you assume to be the problem. It will force you to evaluate your basic assumption and reveal gaps in your thinking. Work to find new insights into seemingly unresolvable problem.

Changing the way you think

In order to be creative, it is necessary to change the way you think. Learn to let go of your preconceptions. Understand the different ways you can re-programme your mind so that you can see things in different, more productive ways

Doing things differently

Telling yourself to “do things differently” is simply an internal prompt that can be used to optimize your personal effectiveness. Notice your usual ways of doing things, such as morning routines; traveling to work routines; job routines; problem-solving routines; relationship-management routines. Analyze these patterns in a creative way and think about how you could change them.

Sometimes your mind freezes and you cannot find a solution to a problem. Disengage from the problem and allow your sub-conscious mind to work on the issue, undisturbed by the conscious search for a solution. Try going for a walk, thinking about something else, or making a cup of coffee use the method that works best for you.

Deciding to be creative

Not all the situations respond to creative approach. Some are too simple to warrant the time and effort involved. Others need to be reframed first. Understand the decision-making process and how creative thinking techniques can be implemented.

The decision to use creative approach or not depends on the problem. If the problem is simple ,for example, you are about to cross a busy road, there is no need to be creative, in fact being creative could be counter productive because you need the full power of your logical thinking process to get you safely across the road. However, if you are looking at ways of reducing the number of road fatalities that occur this is an open-ended problem and creative approach will offer you more solutions to consider. Recognize the situations where creative approach would be beneficial.

Once you have identified that an issue is open ended, the next step in the process is to categorize it in and form of a problem statement. Problems can be grouped into three categories: personal, such as illness; professional, such as a career change opportunity; or they can involve the third party, for example, an issue that you want to help someone else to resolve.

Having categorized the problems .define it and rephrase it-this will help you look at it in a different way.


1- Use coaching to help you change your current thinking patterns.

2- Ask a colleague you admire for advice on how to improve your creative skills

3- Learn to cross the natural barriers in you mind

4- Think in terms of results you want to achieve

5- Problems are opportunities for change

6- Ask yourself why you perceive an issue as a problem

7- Question and challenge ideas rather than just accepting them