An Essential Skill for the 21st Century
Preparing for the world isn’t an easy task.
As the world changes, new technologies and practices are introduced.
What we learn in schools usually becomes obsolete by the time we’re ready to start working.
This is why preparation for children and young adults nowadays should focus on developing skills that are crucial for adapting to this ever-changing reality.
Embrace life-long learning as a foundation for professional development.
One of the essential skills we need to develop is creative thinking.
What is creative thinking?
A definition of creative thinking is defined as a way to look at and solve problems from a different perspective, avoiding orthodox solutions and thinking outside the box.
This creative process allows you to explore connections, meet new challenges and seek solutions that are unusual, original and fresh.
Many believe that creative thinking techniques are based on experience, including Steve Jobs:
Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesise new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’d had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people.
Having this in mind, we have to understand that creative thinking is a skill we need to develop early on.
We have to be able to break the patterns and traditional way of thinking to be able to start thinking in a creative way. A way that is going to help you create a new approach to a particular situation or a problem.
Starting with this method early on guarantees more experience as you learn from many different examples as you grow up.
Connecting this experience with current challenges and situations is going to help with reaching creative solutions.
Characteristics of creative thinkers include:
1 — They are communicators
Creativity and confidence are expressed in many ways through both listening and communicating.
This is why creative thinkers are good communicators.
Collaboration is also important for this kind of thinking, and good communication is essential for work performance as a part of a team.
2 — They are open-minded
An open mind is a mind that appreciates criticism, is ready for new solutions and ideas, and isn’t afraid of evaluating ideas.
A person who is open-minded is willing to learn from both successes and mistakes, being able to grow and develop.
3 — They are risk-takers
Exploring new ideas and strategies is impossible without risk-taking, as a willingness to face challenges and accept change.
Creative thinkers are resilient, and they aren’t afraid of taking a chance, knowing that one needs to be brave when exploring innovative and original ways of thinking about and solving problems.
They know that leaving a comfort zone is sometimes necessary to succeed, even if it means facing the unknown.
4 — They are knowledgeable
To develop an understanding of things and situations, you need a background story.
Knowledge allows creative thinkers to see the full picture, which is why they know a lot about the sector they work in.
They are experts in what they do, and the concept of life-long learning is what they base their expertise on.
5 — They are flexible
Abilities to adapt to changes and think outside the usual patterns are parts of creative thinking, which is why being flexible is a characteristic trait of creative thinkers.
They welcome changes; they aren’t afraid of changing their method of work, and they are good at working with others.
Why is it important?
The world and society are advancing at a remarkable pace. We need to equip ourselves with the ability to adapt to this trend, not to hold back.
We can achieve great success by facing challenges and responding to them with a new way of thinking and self-confidence.
Ability to apply innovative thinking in both a digital and non-digital environment has become a characteristic of successful people nowadays.
If you want to build a successful career, it’s important to develop creative thinking techniques as one of your skills, together with problem solving and critical thinking.
Regardless if you’re a graphic designer, a social media manager or a front-end developer, these skills are essential to help you develop your real potential and use it to overcome obstacles and deal with problems each day.
When it comes non-digital world, teachers are first to benefit from this skill, because they’re the ones that will affect the generations to come.
They have the role of transferring this skill to their students.
This skill also has a significant role within creativity in business.
It allows managers, analysts, and other industry professionals to apply creative process to the corporate sphere, start looking at things from a different perspective and come up with solutions that will separate them on the market.
The main benefits of developing creative thinking include:
· Increase your self-confidence
· Solve problems more efficiently
· Earn respect
· Be an innovator
· Make a difference
· Be more successful at work
Developing creative thinking
As an innovative way of approaching and analysing ideas, creative problem solving became an essential skill for the 21st century.
Although some people might seem more creative than others, this skill is something that is developed and improved using various techniques and practices.
Being an essential skill today and one of those assets you could leverage in your work pursuit, try developing creative problem solving using the following exercises:
This technique includes thinking about something and putting down all the ideas that come to your mind–regardless how silly or unrelated they might seem at first.
In this ocean of ideas, you’re bound to find one that will stand out, one that will be tangible and innovative.
Used as an individual or group practice, brainstorming is a great way to develop creative thinking and problem solving.
It encourages thinking in a different way and exploring many options that might be applied in that situation.
The more options come to your mind, the more potential you’ll have to find great ideas.
- Mind mapping
Mind mapping is the process of connecting the dots.
While brainstorming involves putting all the ideas down as they come to your mind, mind mapping is about arranging your thoughts, thinking in a logical way, using associations, recognising patterns and creating an order.
All that cluster of ideas from brainstorming should come together in mind mapping.
This exercise engages both left and right hemisphere of the brain; it encourages you to think about the relationship among aspects and ideas.
It also has a positive influence on organisational skill.
Since reframing focuses on analysing the same situation or a problem from a different perspective, it’s a great exercise for developing creative thinking.
Reframing means changing the frame of things, so you’ll need to take a look at a problem or a situation in a different way, to be able to come up with a new, innovative approach.
Explore other meanings of things, analyse the context and spread the perspective to spot new opportunities and expect potential obstacles.
Again, this exercise and way of thinking are applicable in many professions nowadays.
- Envisaging the future
The goal of this exercise is to train your mind to anticipate future based on the images of today.
Start with the current situation.
Regardless if you’re using images or data to understand it, try to think about future and where you want future to take you.
Through this process, you’ll need to create bridges from present to future, and this is where creativity comes in useful, as ideas to overcome gaps become solutions that will take you to desired future and help you achieve your goals.
- Role play
The technique of using role play is a good way to change the way you’re thinking and explore the situation from a different perspective.
Creative thinking encourages you to be open-minded, so when using this method, you’ll try to think about the situation from the point of someone else.
You need to reframe your way of thinking to see a different perspective of things, to change the perspective and find new solutions that go over your limits and overcome your personal style of problem-solving.
Assuming a new role encourages you to come up with solutions that might not be typical for you, but they are what you need for creative problem solving.
Learners of today have a unique role in our society.
The traditional forms of learning styles and students profile are becoming obsolete.
Learners of today need to adopt this reality of constant change and progress, to be able to stay competitive and successful.
We need to understand this concept of lifelong learning as a part of our reality, and most professions such as design, web development, freelancing, management, all need more creative thinkers.
Creative thinking and problem solving are essential skills for professional development, especially in the digital environment.
Originally Published — What is Creative Thinking?
Author Bio: Zorana is a blog writer, freelancer, teacher and mom. She’s passionate about digital marketing and life-long learning. Follow her at https://twitter.com/RadovicZorana