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We were on a call recently with an extended creative team generating ideas for client videos. During breaks, I found myself jotting down examples of important creative thinking skills the team was exhibiting. These seven creative thinking skills demonstrated during the call are ones which benefit both those who display them and those working with them too:

1. Suspending advocacy of your own idea to push for another person’s concept.

It’s helpful to be able to come into a creative situation and demonstrate your willingness to champion another person’s idea. It can open the way to getting others to support your thinking, as well.

2. Putting your own idea to the same test you apply to an idea from someone else.

When it comes to your own ideas, it’s easy to be a hypocrite and apply all kinds of hurdles to other ideas while letting your own thinking slide by unchallenged in your own mind. Just one thing to remember: don’t become somebody known for doing this!

3. Combining two different ideas and making them better (not muddled) as one idea.

Often (maybe “almost always”) compromising on creative ideas leads to something nobody likes, recognizes, or thinks satisfies the original objective. Being able to dissect ideas to pull out highlights and put them together as something new, however, is entirely different, and a great skill to have.

4. Letting someone else take “ownership” of your idea in order to build support for it.

This skill really tests whether you believe so strongly in an idea you’re willing to let someone else step up and take it on as their own idea to see it prevail. The key to seeing your idea win out can be letting somebody else be the vocal proponent for it.

5. Displaying the patience to wait for someone else to say what needs to be said so all you have to do is agree.

It’s tempting to jump in right away and make all the points you feel necessary in a creative discussion before anyone else talks. At times though, patience and silence are called for when it becomes clear someone can and will express your perspective – and can do it more appropriately than you can.

6. Sticking to your guns amid challenges to a creative idea which makes solid strategic sense.

There are many creative ideas which, while being really cool, have nothing to do with what you’re trying to achieve and how you should be achieving it. When confronted with others who are passionately arguing for highly creative yet hardly strategic concepts, make and remake your case if the idea you’re advocating is on the mark strategically.

7. Always looking for new creative skills to develop in yourself and those around you.

Not only do you want to make yourself stronger creatively at every juncture, it’s in your best interests to help improve the creative performance of your overall team. Creative meetings are a great opportunity to spot gaps others labor under as well as seeing your own creative shortcomings. Inventory what you saw (or didn’t see) after a creative meeting and get to work filling the gaps.

How are you doing on these 7 creative thinking skills? How about your team?  – Mike Brown

 

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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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43 Responses to “7 Important Creative Thinking Skills”

  1. Glad I could be one of your test monkeys. :o)  Great points.

  2. Snowgoosegirl says:

    good practical points! thinking about it….lately, I seems to be tilling towards this route and it working for me, in terms of objectively and team work. thanks for the post. One more thing, your post give life to some of the things I do unconsciously….(it makes me feel am not alone after all)

  3. Scott Asai says:

    A lot has to be about how the environment is set up. For example, I believe it’s Willow Creek church that has an “umbrella of grace” policy at all it’s meetings. When you share an idea after stating that phrase, you’re asking people not to judge or question it’s validity, but instead consider it with an open mind. If you’re not asking opinions or brainstorming in a meeting, you need to ask why you’re even involving others if it’s purely informational. Meetings aren’t inherently bad. There are just meetings run poorly and others run well. 

    • Anonymous says:

      The “Umbrella of Grace” concept is a great way to formalize giving a new idea some space as opposed to simply hoping it will happen. Thanks for sharing that Scott!

  4. Anonymous says:

    I think #6 resonates the most with many of my peers as well as myself.  Our industry niche tends to have a lot of “cool & exciting” things that *can* be done as part of a campaign and though many of us are so passionate for our industry, perhaps we are “too close” to understand that something that seems so awesome and cool to us, may not be what connects our customer to the product.  I even have to step back and ask “is the direction I am taking this conversation really what is best for the project and the results it may generate?”

    I feel that an incredible amount of self-awareness and self-restraint needs to be present for all of the members of the team to fully utilize the benefits of the seven steps above.  I think it is possible, but not all industries have this as a benefit of their organizational culture.  Great to aspire to though!

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s a great observation Ryan about how each team member uses these concepts. It’s not likely that every member will be strong at all of them – in fact, it may be impossible. Ultimately it’s a leader’s role to make sure he or she has a strong command of them and is cultivating them among team members. Within the call that inspired the blog post, there were definitely behaviors completely counter to these. That’s where a team leader or facilitator has to know when to let that go or stop the behavior if it’s too detrimental to the team.

  5. Mike Brown says:

    Seeking credit for your contribution doesn’t always get in the way of progress, but relinquishing it opens many doors to getting things done.

  6. Keith Miles says:

    Awesome Thought

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