Exercising your creative thinking skills is a critical part of life, no matter the field you work on.
According to Alves et al, (2005), creativity can in a simple way be identified as the generation of ideas whereas innovation implies the transformation of these ideas into a new product or service for someone to buy or use.
Source: Teresa M Amabile “How to kill Creativity”, Harvard Business Review, September – October 1998, 77-87.
Amabile (1998) on the other hand defines creativity through three components: expertise, creative-thinking skills, and motivation. The level of creativity in an individual is relative to the mixture of these three components.
Creative thinking is a skill and, like any other, it needs constant exercise to stay sharp.
What are creativity skills?
There are several skills you’ll need to develop to enjoy the advantages of the techniques.
- Experimentation (the process of trying things and to discover what effect they have)
- Opposing views
- Asking questions
- Open-Mindedness (willing to consider different ideas or opinions).
- Problem solving (determining the cause of the problem)
- Willingness to take risks (favorably disposed or inclined to take risk)
- Strong interest in learning and new discoveries
- Flexibility and adaptability (the ability to change or be changed easily according to the situation)
You need to regularly expose yourself to situations in which a new idea is needed and surround yourself with like-minded people to achieve this goal.
There are several tools and techniques that you can use to stimulate creative thinking.
Here are some of the best creative thinking techniques you can use:
The main goal is to form a group of people and throw around ideas without interference where each participant shares their ideas as soon as they come to mind. The general idea of brainstorming is that, by having a variety of creative potential solutions, it gets easier to reach one with the highest level of quality.
Lateral thinking involves looking in less obvious areas and lines of reasoning. It can work well if you and your partners try to put yourselves under different perspectives or reverse the problem to look at it differently.
A mind map is a chart where you put ideas and connect them. It can provide possible solutions to a problem, its immediate consequences, and be the best course of action to deal with them.
Name of the activity:
Let’s build together
The aim of the activity:
The overall pedagogical aim is to manage a team-building activity in which groups must work together to build a structure out of Lego, but everyone has a secret “assignment” which makes the collaborative process more challenging.
Skills that the activity develops:
Communication, leadership dynamics, conflict resolution, cooperation, patience and problem-solving strategy, empathy, creativity, flexibility, and adaptability.
How many people the activity is suited for:
Minimum of 4
Time requirement for the activity:
60 – 120 minutes
How many instructors are needed?
Other requirements for the activity:
Materials needed: Several Boxes of Lego, papers
Describe the activity in a clear and concise manner:
Stage 1: Form groups of 4 – 6. Each group sits around a table with a box of Lego.
Say participants not to touch the Lego until the activity starts.
Stage 2: Facilitator give the commands to the participants:
“Your mission, as a group, is to build a construction with these Lego bricks.
Now each of participants will get a piece of paper, in which you have your individual assignment written. You may not show or tell your assignment to the rest of the team.”
Participants will have 20 minutes to build their construction. Participants may not speak during the building process. Participants must continue building until the time is up.
The facilitator will announce when the time is finished.
Stage 3: Hand out the “commands,” one per participant (check the list).
Remind participants that they must not show their assignment to anyone else.
Stage 4: Once everyone has an assignment, the time starts. If needed, the facilitator reminds participants that they are not allowed to speak during the construction process.
Stage 5: After 20 minutes, the facilitator tells participants to stop. Facilitator invites them to share her/his “assignments” with the other members of their group.
Stage 6: As a final step, debrief the activity by reflecting on how the groups worked together. Use reflection questions (check possible options below)
- Do people communicate openly with one another?
- Are team members focused on individual achievement or shared success?
- How did you feel?
- What would help you do a better job as a team?
- Could you get out of your comfort zone and do the activity creatively and using your imagination?
- Alves Jorge, Marques Maria José, Saur Irina & Marques Pedro (2007) Creativity and Innovation through Multidisciplinary and Multisectoral Cooperation. Creativity and Innovation Management
- Amabile, T., Conti, R., Coon, H., Lazenby, J., & Herron, M. (1996). Assessing the Work Environment for Creativity. The Academy of Management Journal
- Amabile, T. (1998) How to kill Creativity. Harvard Business Review
- Flynn, M., Doodley, L., & Cormican, K. (2003). Idea management for organizational innovation. International Journal of Innovation Management, 7, 417.