CAREER ADVANCEMENT / AUG. 30, 2014
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How to Develop Creative & Innovative Thinking Skills

Today’s economy is considered knowledge-based. In order to succeed you must be able to come up with fresh, interesting, and usable ideas under pressure. This takes what is called "whole brain thinking." Harnessing your creative and innovative thinking skills will help you get ahead in even the most cut-throat career. 

Right & Left Brain Thinking

Each individual person’s way of problem solving is unique. Many feel it relies on what part of the brain they use most, right or left. The right side is where your imagination lives and is reserved for daydreaming, creativity, and artistic inclinations. The left side is reserved for scientific deduction, cold hard facts, and mathematics. Determining which direction your brain leans when problem solving is as easy as taking a few simple cognitive tests

Improving "Whole Brain Thinking"

The key to becoming more creative and innovative while problem solving in the workplace is learning how to become a whole brain thinker. Learning how to merge your left and right brain thinking process will allow you to use what is called "creative logic." You must break out from your traditional mind-sets and re-frame how you problem solve. 

Building your Problem Solving Framework

The best way to make changes to your problem solving skills is to carefully document and analyze your process. Make an organized and detailed list of how you tackle specific work related tasks. This will help you paint a picture of your specific problem solving framework. Do you rely more on logic? Or are you a "follow your gut" type of person? More logical thinkers will develop strategies based on factual information. Those that follow their gut do not necessarily follow the factual path toward a solution. You should have a good mix of both when attempting to become more innovative while problem solving.

How to Implement Creativity

Once you know and understand your process, you can make specific changes. This will involve taking each scientifically-based step of your process and generating several alternative, more creative ways to reach the solution; without logical deduction. This step can be difficult, but it will help you derive ideas using a more intuitive process; in turn, encouraging you to see the problem from several different perspectives in order to find new and innovative ways of developing solutions.

Becoming a Creative Leader

Statistics show that today’s Fortune 500 companies rely heavily on their intellectual assets. Having highly effective creative leaders provides these companies with a strategic edge against the competition. Becoming a creative leader means taking on certain work projects others may stray from due to complexity. Challenging yourself to think more creatively to come up with solutions to complicated projects will help you hone your creative thinking skills. In addition, your whole brain thinking approach will help you come up with valuable innovative ideas while working through projects.

Developing usable creative and innovative thinking skills involves not just discovery but idea generation, analysis, and proper execution. Creative thinking and innovation go hand in hand, without one, you cannot essentially have the other. Having the know-how to unlock these vital skills can open new doors to lucrative opportunities in your career and work life.

Image via Fritz Ahlefeldt-Laurvig

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