Embracing the Unknown

Creative thinkers view challenges through a new lens or perspective to find novel solutions.

Creative thinking goes hand-in-hand with critical analysis and problem-solving. Creativity arises from the habit of making connections between thoughts and experiences.

The Basics

  • Thinking creatively happens in settings where there are no stupid ideas, and people feel comfortable exploring what may not be fully-formed solutions.
  • Having an open mind, and being willing to imagine something that doesn’t yet exist, can feel risky.
  • Think of your proposed solutions as experiments; not all will succeed. Companies can encourage a more creative approach to problems by understanding that failure is a part of success.
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Unlocking Creativity

Business leaders can overcome six mind-sets that block creativity and innovation in their organization.

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Define the Problem

When approaching any problem, keep in mind not only the business and technical parameters any solution must have, but also the human needs it must meet. Delving into these will uncover creative opportunities. The design company IDEO suggests developing a “problem statement” that defines the challenge you face in detail, and use that as the basis for brainstorming solutions. Don’t judge while brainstorming ideas; leave evaluation until after you’ve gathered as many ideas as possible.

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The Art of Innovation

Lessons in creativity from the firm that designed the Apple mouse and the Palm handheld.

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Order Out of Chaos

Remember that creative solutions don’t often follow a linear trajectory. Model comfort with doubt and the unknown for your team members. Explore areas of doubt or apprehension for opportunities to better understand the challenge you face. Often your intuition will lead you to new approaches.

  • Teams work best when members feel free to voice their opinions.
  • Managers foster creative teamwork when they keep track of the big picture as well as the relationships and connections between facts.
  • It’s up to leaders to keep pursuing innovative solutions, but also to continuously question if those solutions are the right ones.
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The Right Kind of Crazy

A Jet Propulsion Lab engineer describes the role of teamwork and leadership in landing a rover on Mars.

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Creative Confidence

You are more creative than you realize – and so is everybody else.

Tom Kelley and David Kelley Crown Publishing Group

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Creativity

You can tap the creative potential that lies dormant in most people. To foster your employees’ creativity, give them the space to develop and share ideas. As an employee, take the time to let your ideas flow so you can put the best ones into practice.

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Group Creativity

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts, so put the power of collective creativity to work. Like it or loathe it, brainstorming is the most well-known framework for tapping a group’s creativity, but many other group-thinking strategies can summon forth your organization’s next great idea.

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