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What’s creativity...and how can we think more creatively?

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by Startacus Admin

Clare Griffiths, Director of The Ideas People asks "What's creativity...and how can we think more creatively? We took a read and made some notes! 

"Creativity is more than about being able to draw, it is an ability which we can all develop. Consider it like a muscle which we can flex. Similar to innovation, creativity is a process fuelled by creativityconscious and unconscious insight, of generating ideas, concepts and associations. It is the ability to develop new ideas and to discover new ways of looking at problems and opportunities. It is also the first step in the innovation process.

In order to develop your creative thinking skills, you must change the way you look at things. To do this, you must look for different or unorthodox relationships between people and things, and you must have an open, inquisitive mind.

There are also techniques you can use to help you think more creatively. Here are five creative methods which you can apply for coming up with ideas or solving problems:



Evolution is all about improving things gradually. Think of Gillette’s razors, and how they have developed over the years from a 1-blade razor to an ergonomically-designed 5-blade razor. Evolution in the bathroom! We all have a desire to improve the way we do things, and we are also never short of an idea of how things could be improved, and this is what the Evolution creative method is all about – improving things.

The second creative method, Synthesis, is all about mixing different concepts together and “joining the dots”. For example, take the Post-It note. This was the invention of Art Fry, who used an adhesive developed by a colleague Spencer Silver. In 1968, Dr Spencer Silver (a chemist at 3M) was attempting to make a super-strong glue, but instead created a “low tack” reusable, pressure-sensitive adhesive. For over 5 years, he promoted his invention within 3M, and in 1974, Art Fry (a colleague who had attended one of his seminars), came up with the idea of using the adhesive to stick his bookmark in his hymnbook. In 1977, 3M launched the product, “Press and Peel”, which initially wasn’t a success. It was only after running a free trial with residents from a town in Idaho, who fed back that 94% of residents would buy the product, that the product then debuted in US stores as “Post-it Notes” in 1980.

The third method to come up with new ideas and to solve problems is to do something completely different to what you are currently doing. This is called the Revolution method.You may recall, from 2010, John Cleese advertising the new boiler repair service of the AA (the AA originally being known as the roadside assistance company)? Well that’s one example of the revolution method – doing something unrelated to previous activities.

A fourth creative method is Reapplication, which is all about using or doing something in a new way. Think about the current trend to upcycle and transform objects into something else. The other day I saw an antique fork which had been turned into a photo holder!

The final creative method is the method called Pivoting. This is a method which you can use when you want to solve a problem from a completely different angle. Let’s take the example of Dyson’s new Air Multiplier Bladeless Fans. Whilst he is still trying to, for example, make a room cooler, rather than using a traditional fan, he has developed this bladeless fan, which uses inducement and entrainment technology to circulate a higher quantity, and constant supply, of cool air around a room.

In addition to the five creative methods listed above, there are other techniques you can use to come up with ideas. For example, you can ask yourself the Big 6 Questions to stimulate curiosity and question your reasoning:



Whilst brainstorming is probably one of the most well-known and commonly used creative thinking techniques, it is not the only technique – nor the most effective one to use. There are numerous creative thinking techniques which you can experiment with, and the ones mentioned above are just a handful.

However, they could be a good starting point for you, next time you are at the beginning of an innovation journey within your business. So why not try something different, and apply one of these creative thinking techniques? You never know where it will take you!"

About the contributor: Clare Griffiths is the Director of The Ideas People, a smart social enterprise which develops the innovation skills and capacity of today’s and tomorrow’s workforce through practical training, tools and fun learning experiences.

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Published on: 21st April 2013

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