Creative thinking tools

Helping business owners move their businesses forward often involves getting them to think differently - to look at challenges, bottlenecks and problems through new lenses to get that different perspective that leads to great light-bulb moments and essential breakthroughs.

Here are a few tools that have helped me over the years.

  • Challenge assumptions: For every situation, you have a set of key assumptions. Challenging these assumptions gives you a whole new spin on possibilities e.g assume you can do something and find as many ways as possible of “just doing it” rather than
    directly addressing “the problem”
  • Think in reverse: If you feel you cannot think of anything new, try turning things upside-down. Instead of focusing on how you could solve a problem consider how could you create the problem e.g. If you’re looking of ways of improving your business, try asking “how could we trash the business in 90 days?”
  • Draw: The idea is not to draw masterpieces but to express yourself in pictures instead of words. Your brain will make different connections. because you’re not relying on verbal reasoning alone.  Try Mind-Mapping.
  • Reword the problem: Stating the problem differently often leads to different ideas e.g.You’ll come with different ideas if you ask “how to we make work easier” as opposed to “how do we increase productivity”
  • Photobucket

  • Get someone else’s perspective: Ask different people what they would do if faced with your challenge. Approach several different kinds of people, from outside your business who will ask very different questions to those you’d ask yourselves and approach your challenge from many different directions.
  • Believe in your ability to find a solution: Believe that you are creative, believe that ideas will come to you; positive reinforcement helps you perform better.
  • Relax. Take time out to think: Nap, go for a walk, listen to music, play with your child, take a break from formal idea-generating. Your mind needs the rest. Ever remembered something when you stopped trying to remember it or had a lightbulb moment that seemed to come from nowhere?
  • Play the “If I were” game: Ask yourself “If I were …” how would I address this challenge? What would you do if you were Tom Hanks, Leonardo da Vinci, Muhammad Ali, Flash Gordon … You could really have some fun with this. Get into character and think of your alternative self’s traits, attributes and skills and apply them to your challenge.
  • Change your environment: Sometimes changing the setting changes your thought process. Go to a nearby coffee shop instead of the conference room in your office, or hold your discussion while walking round a local park. Have a brainstorming session on a boat.
  • Shutting out distractions: Keep your thinking space both literally and mentally clutter-free. Put your Smartphone in Airplane mode, close the door, divert your phone calls and then think.
  • Have a laugh: Creative stuff comes when we’re in “play” mode. Fine killjoys and miserable people and donate the proceeds to charity.

What’s worked for you?

Leave a Comment