As adults we tend to think in a conditioned way aimed at showing how clever we are. Yet, as children, we were simply spontaneous and far more creative in our thinking. To re-capture your childhood curiosity, allow yourself to just wonder at things, to be completely present in the here and now, and to detach yourself from what you thought was real.
2. Make New Connections.
To be innovative doesn't require a university degree; it simply requires making a connection between existing ideas. For instance, did you know that ice cream was invented in 2000 BC yet it took another 3900 years for someone to come up with the idea of a cone? It's when you take two seemingly unrelated items and use the spark of creativity that genius happens.
3. Be A Little Illogical.
It is a peculiarly Western trait to want to tie things up in neat bundles. We prefer solutions to problems, and answers to questions. To be creative, you need to be comfortable with things that don't fit. The Eastern tradition is more in tune with incongruence. As in this Zen koan, or problem: what is the sound of one hand clapping?
4. Laugh More.
Tom Peters says that the creativity of a workplace can be measured by a laughometer, ie how much it laughs. Humour is one of the greatest creative devices. It jolts us out of our normal patterns and puts ideas together that shouldn't go together. It has been found that after listening to comedy tapes, students’ ability to solve problems rises by 60%.
5. Think Outside Your Limits.
Many of the products we take for granted today are the result of people thinking outside their limits. John Lynn recalls attending a computer conference in the 1980's at a hotel when someone joked that the next thing they'd be thinking of would be computerised doors. When he went back to the same hotel 20 years later, all the doors used computer-programmed key cards.
6. Adopt and Adapt.
To be creative doesn't require blue-sky thinking. You can still be creative by adapting what works elsewhere. An American airline that wanted quicker turnarounds on their flights adopted the techniques of Formula One pit crews. Another source of ideas is nature. Georges de Mestral adapted the way certain seeds stick to clothing and invented Velcro.
7. Remember Your Dreams.
Dreaming and day-dreaming can create a rich seam of ideas, because that's when we relax and let the subconscious mind work by itself. Reasearchers call this "washing-up creativity" because most flashes of inspiration come when we are walking the dog, sitting Archimedes-like in the bath, or doing the washing up.
Apply these 7 creative thinking techniques and make them part of your daily thinking and I guarantee that new solutions to your problems will open up to you with ease and speed.