How To Develop Creative-Thinking Skills in 5 Steps

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated May 25, 2021 | Published October 7, 2019

Updated May 25, 2021

Published October 7, 2019

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Many employers value creativity. Regardless of the industry in which you work or plan to work, you will find that creativity can help you with both everyday tasks and long-term goals. Learning how to apply creative thinking to your job responsibilities can help you develop new and effective solutions for common challenges you might encounter in your role. In this article, we will explain creative thinking and how you can expand your creative-thinking skills. 

Related: Top Resume Skills

Learn more about what hard skills and soft skills to put on a resume so it stands out from the others.

What does it mean to think creatively?

Thinking creatively involves developing new and original ideas. When creatively thinking, you can develop new solutions or new ways of overcoming a problem that others have not yet thought of. Creative thinking requires a compilation of analytical, problem-solving, organizational and communication skills to evaluate and solve a problem.

People who have expanded their creative-thinking skills can review an item or product from a unique perspective. Even if you don’t usually consider yourself a creative person, you can still develop certain skills that allow you to approach goals and obstacles with an innovative mindset.

Related: Analytical Skills: Definition and Examples

How to think creatively

You can begin to think creatively in your career using the following steps:

  1. Gather what information you already have.

  2. Consider the obvious solution or process.

  3. Brainstorm additional solutions.

  4. Consider how the topics connect.

  5. Apply the solutions.

1. Gather what information you already have

One of the most important steps in the creative-thinking process is preparation. You can create a more thorough solution when you gather all of the available information. Consider the different aspects of the challenge you are attempting to solve. If a colleague has already compiled information on the problem, you can ask them to share their data and findings with you. 

2. Consider the obvious solution or process

You may be addressing a challenge that has a simple solution. While it is important to know the most obvious solution or process available, you only want to use this information as a foundation for finding a more successful answer. Use this approach to develop additional ideas that require a more creative perspective. Considering the simple solution, you can begin to form other resolutions that could be less time consuming or more financially viable. 

Related: Problem-Solving Skills: Definitions and Examples

3. Brainstorm additional solutions

Allow time for brainstorming as many solutions or processes as you can. When you brainstorm, think of every possibility, even if you don’t initially think it will work. Considering every process may create a foundation for the right answer. Compile a list of your strongest ideas. 

Once you have a complete list, try approaching the topic from a new perspective. Changing your perspective might include thinking about the challenge from someone else’s viewpoint. For example, if you are more analytical in your problem-solving approach, consider thinking from the perspective of someone who thinks more intuitively.  

You could also consider a team brainstorming session. Brainstorming with a group allows for multiple perspectives at the same time. Team members could form new ideas based on one another’s suggestions. 

4. Consider how the topics connect

Think about how two or more topics that relate to one another. This will help you form connections between different ideas that can serve as a guide when developing your solution. Create a separate list of combined ideas. Use similar ideas across the different perspectives, and discard ones that don’t relate to others. 

5. Apply the solutions

Review your combined list and apply the process you believe will be most effective. You may think of additional ideas as you test your solutions. Testing the results will help you determine what aspects of your thought process you can improve and which parts you can apply differently to form a successful solution. Use this type of testing to further your thought processes. Find unique ways to both analytically and test your solutions, then measure the results.

Related: The Best Job Skills to Make Your Resume Stand Out

Tips for creative thinking

Use this guideline to develop your creative-thinking skills:

Accept new undertakings

Creative thinkers are typically willing to try new things so they gain more experience in different fields. When your manager gives you a new project, try to develop at least one method that differs from your usual workplace habits.

Listen to those around you

Your team members can often assist you in creating new methods when you experience a particular challenge. You can arrange regular brainstorming sessions in which your team addresses different obstacles during each meeting. These brainstorming sessions can improve not only your creative-thinking skills but also your active listening and communication skills.  

Do one thing differently each day

Changing your work style can also encourage you to think about everyday processes differently. You could change the way you perform a certain task or learn more about a different department each day. 

Ask new questions

Instead of looking for new answers, consider changing the types of questions you ask. Brainstorm a list of open-ended questions to ask when addressing a common challenge. Good questions will help you think about your processes and how you might be able to change them to improve your productivity. 

By reviewing your work from a different perspective, you can improve your creative-thinking skills. While you may have to consciously consider thoughts and solutions from alternative perspectives, you may find that the process becomes easier over time.

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