Saturday, 27 August 2011

Seven ways to stimulate creative thinking…

Outside the box
The people who are most successful in business are often the ones who come up with novel products or services, or who find different approaches to solving problems.

As part of my MBA, we had a session on how to come up with new ideas. The list below is what the class came up with, along with a few additional items that my friends and I have since discussed:

Approaches to developing new ideas:

Spend time doing things that are completely outside your normal activities
If you’re a business person, spend time with people who aren’t; if you usually listen to rock music, try classical; if you always take the same path to work, try an alternate route…

Structure time for creative thought
It is very easy to get caught up in the hectic pace of day to day life. Set aside time just to daydream.

Read literature from multiple genres; especially Fantasy and Science Fiction
Stories in the Fantasy and Science Fiction genres transport readers to worlds where the rules of physics don’t apply. You may find that this enables you to view our world through another lens.

Deliberately see possibilities; not immediate results
It is rare that people are able to create perfection on their first attempt. When viewing the work of yourself and others, visualize the possibilities of what can be achieved and never judge the results of the first attempt.

I have found that inspiration sometimes strikes when I’m recovering from exercise. As is probably obviously, there is an indescribable connection between mind and body.

Engage in creative endeavors
Write stories, play music, paint, draw, write a blog, learn a language …

This is distinct from daydreaming, in that the objective in daydreaming is to let the mind wander; whereas the objective in meditation is to quiet the mind.

As I mentioned in my first blog post, action trumps everything. If you feel that you would benefit from anything in the above list, I encourage you to incorporate it into your weekly routine. 


  1. John,

    This is why liberal educations produce creative individuals. Specialization is great... once you've learned how to think. I realize that this isn't the exact point that you were trying to make with this post, but the two points are connected.

    Although I eventually went back to school for an M.B.A., I am glad that my parents convinced me to first learn about history, writing, math, science and foreign language, as well as how to think creatively. Experience outside your specialty widens your view when focusing on obstacles that need to be overcome.


    1. Thanks for the comment Pat - I don't really have an opinion on which is better, being a specialist or being a generalist - they each have their positives.

      As you may have gathered, I'm a generalist. You might appreciate my post on the topic: