Career Development

FAQ: Why Is Creative Thinking So Important in the Workplace?

August 26, 2021

Being creative allows you to view situations from different perspectives, find unique solutions to problems and develop artistic, innovative content for your personal and professional projects. Developing your creative thinking skills and practicing them regularly in the workplace allows you to create new opportunities for yourself and grow your career. By understanding creative thinking and researching the various elements of creativity, you can determine which areas to focus on for your own progress. In this article, we define creative thinking, explain its importance and share answers to other common questions about creative thinking.

What is creative thinking?

Creative thinking is the process of considering situations from innovative perspectives and developing an open-minded mindset. Using creative thinking allows you to generate new ideas, interpret situations, identify themes and design alternatives to existing modes of operating. Being a creative thinker involves trying to find new ways to approach existing situations and finding value in diverse mindsets, methods and theories. It also allows you to make connections between concepts and find similarities between vastly different situations. Creative thinking is prominent in artistic fields but also has a key role in developing technology and business.

Related: How To Develop Creative-Thinking Skills in 5 Steps

Why is creative thinking so important?

Creative thinking is important because it allows people to be imaginative and explore all of the possibilities and scenarios in a situation. Thinking creatively removes the limits and boundaries from how processes and procedures currently operate, encouraging people to continue searching for alternative ways to complete tasks or think about concepts. Creativity encourages people to examine why they do things in certain ways and inspires them to consider other ways to apply their resources. Because of this, creativity drives many types of innovation, from developing new medical technology to inspiring people to create new forms of music.

Some of the main benefits of creativity include:

  • Building confidence: When you use creativity and have the opportunity to explore different avenues of thought on your own, you can become confident in experimenting with new concepts and thinking for yourself.

  • Developing knowledge: Because creative thinking encourages people to experiment and innovate, it develops the collective knowledge base that humans have about different ways to achieve goals and create specific outcomes.

  • Releasing stress: Using creative thinking and allowing yourself to be imaginative without restrictions can be a great way to relax and release stress.

  • Promoting emotional intelligence: Creative thinking encourages people to think about situations from multiple points of view, which can grow your ability to empathize with others and be emotionally intelligent.

Related: 10 Jobs That Require Creative Thinking Skills

What are creative thinking skills?

To be a successful creative thinker, you use a range of personal and professional skills. While some people are naturally creative, anyone can become a creative thinker by investing in skills that promote creative thought. Here is a list of nine creative thinking skills to practice at work:

Empathy

Being empathetic is one of the core skills to being a creative thinker because empathy helps you understand how others think and feel. Once you can view the world from perspectives other than your own, you can develop a more powerful imagination. Considering the emotions, opinions and viewpoints of others when addressing a topic enables you to understand more possible outcomes for a situation or uses for a product.

Brainstorming

Hosting brainstorming sessions is a useful skill creative thinking skill because it not only enables your own creativity, it allows you to collaborate creatively with others. Brainstorming with a group enhances your creative thinking skills because it provides you with the opportunity to see how others develop ideas and make creative connections. Grow your brainstorming skills by making a list of questions to guide the discussion and adapting your plan as new ideas develop.

Related: 18 Creativity Exercises To Improve Creative Thinking and Problem-Solving at Work

Visualization

Envisioning the future and considering different conclusions is a useful thought exercise for creative thinkers. Although it's impossible to know exactly how your choices can influence a situation, visualizing all avenues can expand your perspective and make your mindset more creative. Imagining how your actions can cause reactions and influence others is a useful skill that you can apply to almost any workplace situation.

Observation

Paying attention to details in your surroundings can inspire your creativity and give you ideas on innovative ways to approach problems. Observation is a powerful tool for noticing patterns and connections in your environment that you can then use as a basis for your decisions. Practice becoming more observant and grow your creative thinking by making note of the details around you.

Problem-solving

The ability to solve problems is a creative thinking skill because each solution requires a creative approach. When everything operates the way it's supposed to, the scenario doesn't require any additional thought or creativity. As issues arise, you have to respond and react with a creative mindset, changing your behavior and thinking to resolve the situation. Generating a list of possible solutions using your existing resources requires you to be flexible and think creatively to develop the best answer.

Related: 8 Benefits of Creative Decision-Making (With Examples and Tips)

Organization

Being organized facilitates your creativity and adds structure to your imagination. As you brainstorm creative ideas, use organization skills to turn your thoughts into real plans that you use to enact change. For example, during a successful brainstorming session, it's important to use a bubble chart or graph to write down and sort everyone's thoughts into a functional outline.

Experimentation

Knowing how to conduct experiments is another way to arrange your creativity into a useful framework. Once you develop creative ideas, experimentation helps you test them and determine if they're viable in a real situation. When using creative thinking, develop a process for planning and documenting your experiments, then adjust variables to refine your results.

Communication

Successful creative thinking involves the ability to articulate your ideas and communicate them to others. This includes communication skills like listening to others and processing their ideas, then sharing feedback. Effective creative communication relies on your ability to provide an equal exchange of ideas through speaking, writing and body language.

Storytelling

Storytelling is a creative thinking skill that involves taking your ideas and developing them into a consistent narrative. Crafting a cohesive story about how a situation progressed is a good way to find creative connections. Using storytelling skills can also help you express ideas in a way that others can easily understand and appreciate.

Related: Creativity Skills: Definition, Tips and Examples

What are examples of creative thinking?

Here are some examples of using critical thinking in the workplace:

  • Finding a new application for a company software program
  • Designing an interactive layout for a website to improve the user experience
  • Adapting an office layout to facilitate communication between colleagues
  • Posting progress shots of the product design process to engage customers
  • Developing an app to help guests navigate a building through GPS

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