7 Important Creative Thinking Skills

by Mike Brown

7 Important Creative Thinking SkillsWe were on a call recently with an extended creative team generating ideas for client videos. During breaks, I found myself jotting down examples of important creative thinking skills the team was exhibiting. These seven creative thinking skills demonstrated during the call are ones which benefit both those who display them and those working with them too:

1. Suspending advocacy of your own idea to push for another person’s concept.

It’s helpful to be able to come into a creative situation and demonstrate your willingness to champion another person’s idea. It can open the way to getting others to support your thinking, as well.

2. Putting your own idea to the same test you apply to an idea from someone else.

When it comes to your own ideas, it’s easy to be a hypocrite and apply all kinds of hurdles to other ideas while letting your own thinking slide by unchallenged in your own mind. Just one thing to remember: don’t become somebody known for doing this!

3. Combining two different ideas and making them better (not muddled) as one idea.

Often (maybe “almost always”) compromising on creative ideas leads to something nobody likes, recognizes, or thinks satisfies the original objective. Being able to dissect ideas to pull out highlights and put them together as something new, however, is entirely different, and a great skill to have.

4. Letting someone else take “ownership” of your idea in order to build support for it.

This skill really tests whether you believe so strongly in an idea you’re willing to let someone else step up and take it on as their own idea to see it prevail. The key to seeing your idea win out can be letting somebody else be the vocal proponent for it.

5. Displaying the patience to wait for someone else to say what needs to be said so all you have to do is agree.

It’s tempting to jump in right away and make all the points you feel necessary in a creative discussion before anyone else talks. At times though, patience and silence are called for when it becomes clear someone can and will express your perspective – and can do it more appropriately than you can.

6. Sticking to your guns amid challenges to a creative idea which makes solid strategic sense.

There are many creative ideas which, while being really cool, have nothing to do with what you’re trying to achieve and how you should be achieving it. When confronted with others who are passionately arguing for highly creative yet hardly strategic concepts, make and remake your case if the idea you’re advocating is on the mark strategically.

7. Always looking for new creative skills to develop in yourself and those around you.

Not only do you want to make yourself stronger creatively at every juncture, it’s in your best interests to help improve the creative performance of your overall team. Creative meetings are a great opportunity to spot gaps others labor under as well as seeing your own creative shortcomings. Inventory what you saw (or didn’t see) after a creative meeting and get to work filling the gaps.

How are you doing on these seven creative thinking skills? How about your team?

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Mike BrownMike Brown is an award-winning innovator in strategy, communications, and experience marketing. He authors the BrainzoomingTM blog, and serves as the company’s chief Catalyst. He wrote the ebook “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” and is a frequent keynote presenter.

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  1. Zooming out a little, you’ll also find these enhance team and relationship building as well. #4 reminds me of Dale Carnegie’s principle: “Make the other person think the idea is his or hers.”

  2. Glenn – “How to Win Friends and Influence People” has been a huge influence on me, so it’s not surprising a little Dale Carnegie would show up in here! Mike

  3. Actually, these are NOT creative thinking SKILLS in any form or stretch, including #6 and 7, which almost appear to be but are not. Creative thinking involves applying relational thinking and conceptualization to your world, thoughts and actions. It is characterized by thinking outside the box (bun – was/is a clever example for Taco Bell) AND unfortunately and all too often, non-conformism.

    What this article speaks of, is coping skills: skills to help people work together, skills to foster constructive thinking and group cooperation – which is fine. Sadly, by their very nature, they also encourage or try to suggest the the creative IN the group really need to conform, which is what we hear all the time, everywhere we turn, so that others can keep up.

    I’m not sure what the author’s background is, but this “institutionalization” of creativity might seem interesting, but is simply box thinking.

    Respectfully!

  4. Clark –

    Thanks for the comment.

    From a business perspective, I look at creativity as developing and introducing new ways of looking at and doing things. An important part of the creativity is the “doing things.” That concept was summed up tremendously by Randall Rozin of Dow Corning at a June 2011 Business Marketing Association conference panel with the comment: “Creativity for creativity’s sake is artistry. Creativity with a defined purpose and a timeline is business.”

    I wouldn’t suggest to an individual artist creating a work of art to vet the idea with a group of people and manage it as suggested in this post. But if that same artist is trying to work as part of a team to create something, then each of these ideas can be very beneficial in getting more creativity from the group and in the end result it is trying to create.

    Call it what you want, but to me, doing that successfully involves creativity, thinking, and strong skills. Personally, I won’t call it “out of the box,” because, quite frankly, that phrase is about as trite as it gets these days.

    Mike

  5. Clark’s point is well taken. Adjusting to team dynamics is not synonymous with creative thinking–maybe,it is better described as ‘creative bridge building’.
    I would really like to see a discussion or simply references to studies that have analyzed creative problem solving, especially in the arena of project management and implementation.

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