How to Train for Creative Thinking

creative thinking

How to Train for Creative Thinking

Your business must innovate and change to survive. Leaders rightly look to innovation and creativity as key sources of differentiation and competitive advantage.

An all-too-common myth about innovation is that brilliant ideas leap fully formed from the minds of geniuses. The reality is that most innovations are the product of structured approaches and tested methodologies. In other words, there is a method to the madness.  

“I am not a creative person; it’s just not me”, is something we often hear from our clients. Wrong! We all have creative genius inside. Thomas Edison’s creative process involved endless rounds of trial and error. He failed much more often than he succeeded, but through consistent effort created astounding inventions. Hence the well-known phrase, “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.”

How do “those creative people” come up with great ideas? They work hard at it. And so can you.

Let’s get started.

  • Change your patterns: Disrupt your “default” thinking by doing something familiar but in a different way. Use your non-dominant hand to brush your teeth or handle a fork. Take a different route to work. Park in a new spot. Listen to music you despise. Watch or listen to news from a source which opposes your views. Don’t judge your experience, just observe and note what’s happening. Shaking up your routine will force your brain out of its default patterns and spur new ways of thinking.
  • Observe people around you: At a grocery store, airport, or restaurant observe with curiosity and detachment. Ask questions. Why did she leave her shopping cart in the middle of the aisle? Who uses a shopping list and who doesn’t? How do people prepare for the airport security check? Do they take their shoes off first? Or do they put their bags on the belt first and then take their shoes off? Why does it take some people so long to order food? Why do they sit at a certain table in a certain order? If you intently observe people and their behavior, you will be amazed at the incredible insights revealed.
  • Read something out of your comfort zone: We all love reading about what we like and know, but this doesn’t boost creativity. Start consuming content you wouldn’t normally read. Find blogs from a different industry. Read books you ordinarily wouldn’t consider. I read my husband’s financial and investment books, and while they often bore me to tears, they make me think differently and apply lessons to new (and unrelated to finance) situations.

    Charlie Munger, Warren Buffett’s business partner, is a fanatic interdisciplinary reader and thinker. He takes core ideas from one discipline and uses them to solve problems in another. Charlie applies the “lattice of mental models”: a range of theories from different disciplines such as psychology, history, mathematics, physics, biology, and economics. One can benefit from the combined output to produce something he calls “Worldly Wisdom.”


These are just a few tips to help you develop the habits of a creative thinker, but there are lots more that we will be sharing with you.

Our “Think and Lead Differently” training module can show you and your team how to understand, capture, and incorporate your customer’s perspective. You will learn and practice Design Thinking methodology and start using techniques such as empathy, sketching, ideation, and rapid prototyping to build better products and solutions.