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01 July 2015

Maxwell: Harness Creative Thinking.

This article is a continuation from THIS POST. It is advisable to read it before you read this article.

The most valuable resources that we bring to our work and to our firm is creativity. It is the ideas that matter more than anything.

Creative thinking can be divided into two groups.
  1. Inventions: This is the creation of something entirely new using new ideas.
  2. Innovation: This is the process of improving something existing, either by using new ideas or by utilizing and combining existing ideas
Creative thinking embodies the art of asking the right, correct and relevant questions and using the responses either to invent (create new) or innovate (improve existing).

Characteristics of creative thinkers
  1. Value ideas. They have lots of them
  2. Explore options
  3. Embrace ambiguity
    • Creative thinkers identify ways to remove uncertainty
  4. Connect the dots
    • They are able to link seemingly unrelated ideas
    • They connect and associate ideas in different ways to create new unrelated ideas.
    • Creative thinking works as follows. Think --> Collect --> Create --> Correct --> Connect
      • When we think we start collecting ideas. The question to be asked is 'What material relates to this thought?
      • Next step is to create a better idea. 'What ideas can make the thought better?'
      • Refine the new idea. 'What changes can make the new idea better?'
      • Finally connect the ideas by positioning them in the right context. This makes the idea complete and powerful.
  5. Do not fear failure
Benefits of creative thinking
  1. It adds value to everything
    • Creativity increases our potential
  2. It compounds
    • It builds on itself and increases the creativity of the thinker
  3. Help us learn more
  4. Challenges the status quo
How to be creative?
  1. Remove creativity killers. These are thoughts that stifle creativity. They may consist of
    • Doing statements: Examples are 'Follow the rules', 'Don't be different', 'It will be difficult to do' etc
    • Feeling statements: Examples are 'Don't be stupid', 'I am not a creative person', 'It can't be done', 'We can't afford to make mistakes' etc.
    • Thinking statements: 'It is not practical', 'This is the only way', 'It has never been done' etc
  2. Ask the right questions. Wrong questions can shut down creative thinking. Some examples of right questions are:
    • What is the root cause?
    • Why is it done this way?
    • Why is it not done this way?
    • What are the underlying issues?
    • What does it remind me of?
    • Why is it important?
    • Who has different perspective on it?
  3. Develop a creative environment
    • Encourage creativity
    • Focus on innovation
    • Value trust
    • Appreciate the power of dreams
  4. Spend time with other creative people.
  5. Think out of the box

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