Two Creativity Tips
The following tips suggest two of the dozens of basic questions
you can ask to increase the creativeness of your thinking and
problem solving. Use these questions these as you work on something,
and you can see more creative results starting today.
Certain questions lead to more creative ideas. As you might
suspect, these questions don't include "How does everyone
else do this?" or "What's the usual approach"
A better one: "What is the important goal here, and how
could that be accomplished in a different way?"
You want to look past the form to find new ways to achieve
the function. When you consider your job, for example, the most
creative approach is not to ask where you can find a better one.
It is more creative to ask why you have one, and what alternatives
there are. The primary purposes could be to make money, pay the
bills, or work up to a better position.
Once you have these in mind, consider how you might accomplish
each of them in new ways. For example, could you make a business
of what you do? Write a book about the characters you work with?
Get someone else to pay the bills (you might manage an apartment
complex in exchange for rent and utilities)? Design the position
you want and convince an employer to create it just for you?
2. "What If"
Basic "what if" questions are a fun way to have
more creative thoughts. The idea is to ask crazy questions, and
then find a way to make them not so crazy. Then you try to refine
a few of your ideas into something practical and usable.
Suppose you run a college, for example, and you want to develop
more creative ways to educate people and increase enrollment.
You could start by asking, "What if we made a drive-though
window for students, instead of another classroom?" It's
a crazy enough question, but you start looking for ways to make
sense of it, to create something useful from it - something not
One thing that pops into your head is a drive through window
for the bookstore. It seems like something which might work.
The next thought - taking classes at such a window - just seems
too crazy, until you consider the window as just the place the
student gets his or her assignments for their classes. How do
they get assignments there? This might be where you have your
"Audio college" enters your mind, and you imagine
classes on CDs. Students spend so many hours in their cars, so
why not let them use that time to study? They could listen to
class lectures while traveling or just driving to work. It may
not be appropriate for all classes, and on-site testing might
be necessary for many, but perhaps as much as a third of the
student's credits could be accomplished in this form, and at
a lower cost too. You might boost enrollment with a system that
made studying that convenient.
Be sure to ask any "what if" question that comes
to mind and play with it for a few minutes without criticizing
any ideas that come up. The time for critical analysis is after
this "brainstorming" session. In this way you don't
discourage your creativity. Bad ideas will often lead to good
ones if they're allowed to develop and change as you work with
There are dozens of creative thinking techniques you can use
for better ideas. Fortunately knowing even just a few such methods
can get you thinking in new ways. Try them out and see.