Creative thinking tools

Creative Thinking Tools

Creative thinking is the ability to look at things differently and find new ways of solving problems. It involves thinking out of the box and being open to new and innovative ideas.

In this section, we will explore various tools that can help stimulate your creative thinking and generate new ideas.

I recommend you explore the 15 benefits of creative thinking workshops for leaders.

Brainstorming

Imagine you are part of a team tasked with developing a new product for your company. You have a general idea of what the product should be, but you need to generate a wide variety of ideas for the product’s features, design, and marketing strategy.

Brainstorming is a group creativity technique designed to generate a large number of ideas for the solution to a problem. It usually involves a group of people who gather together to share their ideas freely without any judgment or criticism. 

The goal is to generate as many ideas as possible in a short amount of time. Once all ideas are collected, the group can then evaluate them and select the best ones for further development.

Inventor: The brainstorming technique was popularized by Alex Osborn in the 1950s.

Related Tools:

Mind Mapping: Can be used to organize and structure the ideas generated during a brainstorming session.

Six Thinking Hats: Can be used to evaluate the ideas generated during a brainstorming session from different perspectives.

Mind Mapping

Imagine you are working on a project and you need to organize a large amount of information in a way that helps you see the connections between different pieces of information.

Mind Mapping is a visual tool that helps structure information, helping you to better analyze, comprehend, synthesize, recall, and generate new ideas. It usually involves creating a visual map with a central idea in the middle and then branching out to related ideas, concepts, or tasks.

Inventor: The mind mapping technique was popularized by Tony Buzan in the 1970s.

Related Tools:

Brainstorming: Can be used to generate ideas that can then be organized and structured using a mind map.

Design Thinking: Mind mapping can be used during the Empathize and Define stages of the Design Thinking process to organize and structure information.

SCAMPER

Imagine you are trying to improve an existing product or service and you need to come up with innovative ideas for making it better.

SCAMPER is an acronym for Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Put to another use, Eliminate, and Reverse. It is a checklist of idea-spurring questions that can help you generate creative ideas for improving existing products, services, or processes.

Inventor: The SCAMPER technique was developed by Bob Eberle in the 1970s.

Related Tools:

TRIZ (Theory of Inventive Problem Solving): Another tool that can help you generate innovative ideas for improving existing products, services, or processes.

Six Thinking Hats: Can be used to evaluate the ideas generated using the SCAMPER technique from different perspectives.

Six Thinking Hats

Imagine you are in a meeting and the discussion is going in circles, with no clear direction or decision being made.

The Six Thinking Hats is a tool that separates thinking into six distinct categories, each identified with a colored symbolic “thinking hat”. It helps to look at a problem from different perspectives and ensures that you are considering all aspects of a problem.

Inventor: The Six Thinking Hats technique was developed by Edward de Bono in the 1980s.

Related Tools:

Lateral Thinking: Another technique developed by Edward de Bono that can be used to generate new ideas and perspectives on a problem.

Decision Matrix: Can be used to evaluate and prioritize the ideas generated using the Six Thinking Hats technique.

Lateral Thinking

Imagine you are faced with a complex problem that seems impossible to solve using traditional logical thinking.

Lateral Thinking is a method of thinking that involves looking at a situation or problem from a unique or unexpected perspective. It is about reasoning that is not immediately obvious and about ideas that may not be obtainable by using only traditional step-by-step logic.

Inventor: The Lateral Thinking technique was developed by Edward de Bono in the 1960s.

Related Tools:

Brainstorming: Can be used to generate a wide variety of ideas, which can then be further developed using lateral thinking.

Analogies: Can be used to generate new ways of thinking about a problem by comparing it to a similar but different situation.

Analogies

Imagine you are trying to solve a problem in your industry, but you are struggling to come up with innovative solutions using the traditional methods of your field.

Analogies involve using knowledge from a different domain to solve a problem in another domain. It is a way of comparing the known to the unknown, to generate new ideas and insights that may not be obvious using traditional problem-solving methods.

Inventor: The use of analogies as a problem-solving tool dates back to ancient times and does not have a single inventor.

Related Tools:

TRIZ (Theory of Inventive Problem Solving): A systematic approach to solving engineering problems that can also involve the use of analogies from different fields.

Cross-Pollination: An innovation technique that involves combining ideas from different fields or industries to create a new solution.

TRIZ (Theory of Inventive Problem Solving)

Imagine you are an engineer and you are trying to solve a technical problem that seems to have no obvious solution.

TRIZ is a problem-solving, analysis, and forecasting tool derived from the study of patterns of invention in the global patent literature. It involves identifying and eliminating the contradictions in a problem to arrive at an innovative solution.

Inventor: The TRIZ technique was developed by Genrich Altshuller and his colleagues in the 1940s and 1950s in the former USSR.

Related Tools:

Root Cause Analysis: Can be used to identify the underlying causes of a problem before using TRIZ to generate innovative solutions.

Function Analysis: Can be used to analyze the functions of a system or product before using TRIZ to identify and eliminate contradictions

Cross-Pollination

Imagine you are tasked with innovating a new service offering for your company, and you are looking for inspiration outside your industry.

Cross-Pollination is an innovation technique that involves combining ideas from different fields or industries to create a new solution. It encourages thinking “outside the box” and can lead to unique and innovative solutions that may not be possible using traditional methods.

Related Tools:

Analogies: Can be used to generate new ways of thinking about a problem by comparing it to a similar but different situation in another field or industry.

Design Thinking: A human-centered approach to innovation that can be used in conjunction with cross-pollination to create solutions that are desirable, feasible, and viable.

Design Thinking

Imagine you are trying to develop a new product that meets the needs and desires of your target audience, but you are not sure where to start.

Design Thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that involves empathy, ideation, and experimentation to create solutions that are desirable, feasible, and viable.

It involves understanding the needs of the end-users, generating a lot of ideas, prototyping potential solutions, and then testing them with real users.

Inventor: The Design Thinking process was popularized by the design firm IDEO and the d.school at Stanford University, although its principles have been used in various forms for many years.

Related Tools:

Empathy Map: A tool used in the Empathize stage of the Design Thinking process to gain a deeper insight into the needs and desires of the end-users.

User Journey Map: A tool used in the Define stage of the Design Thinking process to visualize the experience of the end-users.

Empathy Map

Imagine you are designing a new app and you want to make sure it addresses the real needs and pain points of your target users.

An Empathy Map is a tool used to gain a deeper insight into the needs and desires of the end-users. It involves dividing a chart into sections, each representing a different aspect of the user’s experience, such as what they are thinking, feeling, saying, and doing.

Inventor: The Empathy Map was created by Dave Gray, founder of XPLANE.

Related Tools:

Personas: Semi-fictional characters created to represent the different user types that might use a service, product, or brand in a similar way.

User Journey Map: A visualization of the process that a person goes through in order to accomplish a goal.

SWOT Analysis

Imagine you are starting a new business and you want to understand your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in the market.

SWOT Analysis is a strategic planning tool that helps you identify your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. It involves creating a matrix with four quadrants, each representing one of the SWOT elements, and then listing the relevant factors in each quadrant.

Inventor: The SWOT Analysis was developed by Albert Humphrey in the 1960s.

Related Tools:

PESTLE Analysis: A framework used to scan the external macro-environment in which an organization operates.

TOWS Matrix: A variant of the SWOT Analysis that focuses on generating strategic options from the analysis of the external and internal environment.

Reverse Brainstorming

Imagine you are trying to solve a problem, but traditional brainstorming sessions are not generating any useful solutions.

Reverse Brainstorming is a technique that involves turning a problem on its head and thinking about how you could cause the problem, instead of solving it. This can often lead to unique and innovative solutions that may not be obvious using traditional brainstorming techniques.

Inventor: The Reverse Brainstorming technique does not have a single inventor, as it is a commonly used method in various fields.

Related Tools:

Brainstorming: The traditional technique of generating a large number of ideas for the solution to a problem.

TRIZ (Theory of Inventive Problem Solving): A systematic approach to solving engineering problems.

Brainwriting

Imagine you are in a team meeting and some team members are not comfortable speaking up or sharing their ideas in a group setting.

Brainwriting is a technique where individuals write down their ideas on paper or index cards instead of speaking them out loud. This method encourages everyone to participate and can often lead to a larger number of ideas being generated compared to traditional brainstorming.

Inventor: The Brainwriting technique does not have a single inventor, as it is a variant of the traditional brainstorming technique.

Related Tools:

Brainstorming: The traditional technique of generating a large number of ideas for the solution to a problem.

Nominal Group Technique: A structured method for group brainstorming that encourages contributions from everyone.

Nominal Group Technique (NGT)

Imagine you are leading a team meeting and you want to ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to contribute their ideas and that the group can reach a consensus on the best ideas.

The Nominal Group Technique is a structured method for group brainstorming that involves individuals writing down their ideas, sharing them with the group, and then discussing and ranking the ideas to reach a consensus.

Inventor: The Nominal Group Technique was developed by Andre L. Delbecq and Andrew H. Van de Ven in the 1960s.

Related Tools:

Brainstorming: The traditional technique of generating a large number of ideas for the solution to a problem.

Delphi Method: A structured communication technique used to gather input and reach a consensus among a panel of experts.

Delphi Method

Imagine you are trying to forecast the future trends in your industry, but there is a lot of uncertainty and differing opinions among experts.

The Delphi Method is a structured communication technique used to gather input and reach a consensus among a panel of experts. It involves multiple rounds of questionnaires sent to a panel of experts, with the responses being summarized and fed back to the panel for further discussion and refinement.

Inventor: The Delphi Method was developed by Olaf Helmer and Norman Dalkey at the RAND Corporation in the 1950s.

Related Tools:

Nominal Group Technique: A structured method for group brainstorming that encourages contributions from everyone.

Expert Interview: A method of gathering detailed information from a subject matter expert.

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