Creativity enhancement techniques are tested ways of finding new solutions and perspectives to a concept or a difficulty that needs to be dealt with. To become more creative and innovative you need to learn to observe what’s happening around you. What is more, you’ll need to take your typical observations to a brand new level – by seeing things from a wider perspective.
If you want to improve your creative thinking skills, you’ve come to the right place. There are lots of creativity techniques and creativity tools you can learn and implement to nudge your creative genius. I’ll discuss some of the most powerful tools and techniques in my today’s post. Make sure you read carefully and make notes if you feel it’s necessary.
Creativity technique # 1. Challenging assumptions
Your assumptions are your mental shortcuts. They are your blind spots, or lines you’ve drawn in the sand. Unfortunately, the more experienced people are in a certain field, the more inclined they are to assume that a situation they’re going through is just like other situations they’ve faced before. Taking things for granted prevents you from developing characteristic traits of creative people – assumptions stand in the way of your creativity.
Usually assumptions sound something like this (see the part in black below):
- it’s impossible to do it (time-cost limits) – it is possible
- if I don’t follow the rules I’ll fail – it’s not necessary to follow the rules
- I believe I need to do it this way only – there are better alternatives
- I cannot control these things – I can influence them if I really want to
If you want to challenge your assumptions, write them down along with their opposites i.e. counter-assumptions (see counter-assumptions in green above). This technique will broaden your possibilities and allow you to come up with better, more creative solutions. Another creativity technique that can help you challenge assumptions is pretending that you’re from another planet and that you see certain things for the first time.
Creativity technique # 2. Brainstorming
Brainstorming is among the well-known creativity methods that help you spark off brand new ideas which wouldn’t have occurred to you under usual circumstances. Brainstorming is used to generate new ideas before you switch to analysis or decision-making. This creativity technique usually implies the following principles:
- all ideas are welcome, even the craziest ones
- evaluation and criticism should be withheld during the first stage of brainstorming
- quantity of ideas prevails over their quality at this stage
- you can develop the ideas put forward by others
- every individual and every idea is accepted equally neutral
Brainstorming requires proper preparation: make sure that you have time, that all your colleagues are present etc. First define the difficulty or the opportunity in one statement without suggesting any solutions. During the session change position, move around the room. Avoid planning a brainstorming session if you want to make a decision regarding certain solutions that have already been discussed. Brainstorming is about generating ideas, not analyzing them or making decisions.
Creativity technique # 3. Reverse brainstorming
Reverse brainstorming is a technique that makes you state your problem in reverse by substituting a positive statement with a negative one. This technique allows you to look at the issue from a perspective that is absolutely different from your typical views. For instance, if you’re looking to increase sales, make a list of all the things you could possibly do to decrease them:
- not getting in touch with prospects
- talking down to clients
- little product knowledge
- poor marketing campaigns
Now reverse each point back again in the following way: How can I increase sales by getting in touch with prospects? How can I make more sales by improving customer relations management? If you’re a webmaster planning to launch a website, you might ask: What would make people leave my website as soon as they land on it? If you’re real estate agent, you might ask: What can I do not to sell this lovely house?
Creativity technique # 4. Lateral thinking
The phrase ‘lateral thinking’ was coined by Edward de Bono, a British physician, author, inventor and creativity coach. Lateral thinking implies intentionally seeing problems from different, unexpected perspectives. Unlike vertical thinking, lateral thinking enables your mind to make sudden turns and spark off some of the most creative and innovative ideas.
If you practice certain techniques to learn how to apply lateral thinking in idea generation, you will become a lot more creative than you used to be. Some of these techniques (which were created by Dr. de Bono, by the way) are as follows:
- come up with as many alternatives for sorting out a problem as you can
- engage in challenging your assumptions (this technique has been described above)
- insert random elements to inspire you to look at the issue with fresh eyes
The last point became a separate creativity technique which I’ll discuss in one of the upcoming posts.
Some more creativity techniques
Psychological distance. When puzzling over a creative idea, make sure you form some physical and psychological space. See the issue from a distance. Scientific research reveals that absence makes the mind and heart grow more creative.
Acting out metaphors. It’s always much more creativity-boosting to ‘let your creativity juices flow’, ‘connect the dots’ and ‘wake up your creative genius’ rather than just becoming more creative. The more you stuff your mind with new things and experiences, the more metaphors you know. The more metaphors you (figuratively) act out when striving to boost your creativity, the more effectively you learn to think outside the box!
Just a little more anger… and sarcasm. Multiple studies have shown that feeling angry can actually foster your creativity. The same refers to sarcasm which enables you to approach tasks with a broader imagination and innovation. But make sure you (artistically) lay your rage out quickly before your creative ideas dissolve.
If you want to read more about creativity enhancement techniques, you’ll like the following posts: