Thinking creatively (part 1 of 3) [Archives:2005/830/Culture]

April 4 2005

By Mohammed Al-tom
Sana'a Branch Manager
[email protected]
For the Yemen Times

The ability to think creatively is an essential skill for every manager. By applying your creativity, it is possible to break out of routines and habitual patterns of behavior to increase your personal effectiveness. Tapping into your creativity will help you find innovative solutions to difficult problems and find ways build new opportunities.

Creativity is the process of challenging accepted ideas and practices in order to find new solutions or concepts. Being creative means seeing ideas or objects in a different way, either by recognizing their unused potential or by connecting old ideas together to create something new.

Some people are naturally creative, but most of us accept things as they are. For example, a plastic bottle is only a bottle to some people, but to a creative thinker, it could also be a re-usable container, a funnel, or a tiny greenhouse. Creative thinking starts with questioning. Are objects really just what we assume them to be?

We generate ideas by thinking creatively and then use logic to help turn these thoughts into action. If you understand the benefits of both logical and creative thinking, you can start to change the way you think.

When we are faced with a familiar problem, logical thinking enables us to use personal experiences to find a suitable solution with minimum effort. The logical approach, also known as convergent thinking, is very efficient. However, it can become a barrier when you have little relevant experience, where there are few suitable solutions, or where you need a brand new solution.

Divergent thinking, or creative thinking, involves opening your mind to find new solutions and new ways of doing things, instead of taking your usual, logical approach to a problem. It requires learning to suspend your judgment to look for different, more inventive solutions.

Most people are creative in their private lives, but tend to be less creative in their “public selves”. Our conditioned behavior encourages us to keep problems to ourselves and find quick fixes that involve as few people as possible. Try to break this habit. When you are faced with a problem, spend time exploring ideas, and involve other people in your search for the best solution.

Our mind stores vast amounts of information. When you receive an input signal, such as someone asking you a question, your mind will automatically access its relevant data. Without this natural ability, you would spend a lot of time doing ordinary things for example, finding your way to work would be a new experience every day. However, this mental process, which makes us very efficient in our everyday lives, is a barrier to creativity.

Avoid making instant assumptions and connections and recognize that every one has the ability to be creative. Change your current patterns of thinking and remember that change begins with questioning. Understand how logical and creative thinking are integral to each other. Use your past experiences to find solutions and explore possible options before making decisions.