Creative thinking is the key to unlocking innovation and problem-solving excellence.
In the whirlwind of everyday professional challenges, we’ve all encountered moments when fresh ideas feel elusive. If you’ve found yourself struggling to inspire your team or spinning out during a brainstorming session, it may be a sign you need to develop your creative skills. Plus, creative problem solving looks excellent on a resume.
As a leader or team member, your ability to think outside the box can ignite a spark of ingenuity that propels your team to new heights. Fan the flames of growth and learn how to improve your creative thinking (and highlight your new skills in your next job application).
What’s creative thinking?
Creative thinking is the dynamic process of transforming your ideas into actions. The skillset equips you to think differently and approach challenges from innovative angles.
At its core, creative thinking empowers you to break free from the constraints of the status quo and dream up fresh, original ideas. It breathes life into your decisions, encouraging you to embrace your imaginative instincts.
By daring to challenge traditional approaches, your creativity opens doors to uncharted innovations and groundbreaking solutions.
Creative thinking versus critical thinking
Although creative and critical thinking are both used in problem-solving, the two skills are marked by key differences.
Creative thinking is the catalyst for generating innovative ideas and crafting novel approaches to the challenges around them. With an open mind and a wild imagination, creative thinkers produce and explore unconventional solutions to the problems that stand in their way.
Critical thinking analyzes available information with an unbiased and rational approach. It involves questioning perceptions, ensuring that decisions are devoid of bias and reasoning remains grounded in sound judgment.
Creative thinking skills
When you look at creative thinking as a set of particular abilities, it becomes easier to develop and perfect. These creative skill examples can help you thrive inside and outside of the workplace:
When you’re open-minded, you can readily adapt to new information and look for fresh problem-solving approaches. You’re receptive to the opinions and ideas of others because you view them as constructive rather than criticizing. This openness also encourages you to freely share your creative ideas without fearing judgement.
You might find that you tap into creative potential the most when you’re challenging convention and posing new ways of thinking. Analyzing processes and asking yourself how you can improve them is an exciting way to make more efficient systems.
Whether you’re new to a job or have worked at the company for years, you may wonder why procedures are what they are — lean into this curiosity to develop new and better ways to work.
3. Ability to brainstorm
There are numerous ways to solve a problem, and brainstorming helps to get them onto paper so you can weigh their pros and cons. This way of lateral thinking encourages you to view solutions as multifaceted rather than a single, straightforward answer.
Creative people experiment with various ways of solving a problem before deciding on the best way to take action. Emulate this mindset in your projects and tasks. For instance, if you work in web design, you might try several page layouts before deciding on a final visual identity for your client.
Speaking with people from different professional backgrounds is an excellent way to stimulate creative thinking and develop new perspectives. When you network with professionals with diverse skill sets and experiences, they might influence you to look at the world differently or suggest an innovative way to tackle a problem.
It’s important to know when to take the backseat and listen in. Observing how others tackle complex issues might inspire you to make changes within your team. Always keep an eye out for opportunities to learn from more experienced peers and innovative colleagues.
Although some individuals claim to thrive in clutter, keeping your work organized creates an environment where you can work freely without distraction. This involves keeping your workspace tidy, creating clear to-do lists, and using visual maps to express your plans and processes.
Proper communication empowers you to share valuable insight and ideas with your teammates. You need strong verbal and written skills to pitch and describe your thoughts and actively listen to others’ feedback and advice.
Before you can dream up a creative approach to an obstacle, you must fully understand the problem at hand. Without proper analysis, your solution may contain flaws, or you could miss important details of your problem. Practice sifting through every detail of the issue and pinpointing the causes.
No matter your industry, problem-solving is always a valuable skill. Consider how to tackle a problem without asking the advice of others to see what creative solutions arise. This way, you can see what inventive ideas you can come up with before external opinions influence you.
How to develop creative thinking skills
Although some of your coworkers may seem to have a natural talent for creativity and creative thinking, it’s a skill anyone can develop and improve. Here are seven ways to advance your innovative problem-solving:
Reading is an effective way to exercise your mind, increase your vocabulary, and expose yourself to new ways of thinking. Whether your book is on a problem you’re facing at work or a new and exciting subject, reading is an excellent opportunity to learn. That’s right: simply cracking open a book can help you grow.
Keep a notepad nearby and write down thoughts and ideas as they arise. Writing helps you to process information, and you can revisit your musing whenever you need to get your creative juices flowing. If you’ve never tried journaling before, it’s an excellent way to process your thoughts and feelings in a safe and private space.
Exercising improves your sleep and ability to cope with stress, making it easier to stay alert and contribute fresh ideas at work.
4. Listen to music
Music can affect your mood and place you in the mindset to solve problems. If you’re struggling with creative writing or creating a visual piece of work, listening to music could push you toward expressing yourself more meaningfully.
5. Ask for feedback
Collaboration and teamwork are key when developing creative solutions in the workplace. You can ask teammates or superiors for feedback on your ideas to gain insight into potential flaws in your reasoning and streamline your solutions.
6. Find a mentor or coach
Having an experienced person to bounce ideas off is a catalyst for creativity. A mentor or coach who’s dealt with similar obstacles can provide insight into what worked and what didn’t, saving you valuable brainstorming time.
7. Change your approach
If you’ve been approaching your tasks the same way, adjusting your processes may bring a fresh perspective and stimulate change. Ask yourself why you tackle work from a similar angle each time and consider more creative ways to conduct your day-to-day operations.
4 creative thinking examples to include on your resume
Employers want to add creative people to their teams because solving problems takes a lot of ingenuity. Use these four examples and bullet points for inspiration when listing creative thinking skills on your resume.
On a graphic designer’s resume:
- Collaborated on rebranding [company’s] visual identity and social media content strategy
- Developed unique and innovative branding material for [company A], [company B], and [company C]
On a copywriter’s resume:
- Revised [company’s] website and blog content to be more engaging, exciting, and SEO-focused
- Contributed original and innovative articles on [topic] to [publication A] and [publication B]
On a public relations specialist’s resume:
- Increased [company’s] brand awareness by planning [event] to launch [product]
- Collaborated with [brand] on [product’s] creative marketing strategy to reach a wider audience
On a teacher’s resume:
- Developed a novel approach to teaching [subject or class] to students with various learning styles and needs
- Introduced [extracurricular], the first of its kind in [the school board], to engage students in [activity]
Sharpen your creativity
Critical and creative thinking broaden your perspective and allow you to devise unique solutions to everyday problems. You can develop your creative skills by changing your environment, learning from others, and adjusting your approach to work.
Regardless of how you choose to spark creativity at work, don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone and confidently contribute your ideas. You never know — you might just come up with the next big company innovation.