How do you define and use creative thinking in your daily job and in your company? Does the idea of a group brainstorm in a meeting facility immediately come to mind? Any other technique equally comes to the fore?

If not, you are not the only one.  Creative thinking is all too often associated with group brainstorming, forgetting that individuals can also generate many ideas and solve problems on their own. Similarly, there are many ways to brainstorm, even in a group setting.  For instance, brainstorming over time allows those people who need time to grow ideas, or those who could not practically be part of a group brainstorm, to contribute.  

Here are a couple of books that provide practical tools to help you, and your company, meet your problem solving and idea generation challenges:

         101 Creative Problem Solving Techniques - The Handbook of New Ideas for Business, by James M. Higgins.  Starting with a brief review of the creative problem solving process, Higgins follows with creative techniques for analyzing the environment, recognizing and identifying problems, and making assumptions.  The next two chapters offer both individual and group techniques for generating alternatives.   Finally the author gives you techniques for choosing among alternatives, implementation and control as well as a framework for using the techniques.

          Thinkertoys - A Handbook of Creative Thinking Techniques, by Michael Michalko. This classic offers an extensive set of techniques based on both linear and intuitive thinking to come up with big or small ideas.  It is full of highly engaging exercises:  enjoy without moderation!

While you may still decide to use traditional group brainstorms after reading these books, I can guarantee that they will change your views and help you chose the right technique for the circumstances instead of the shot gun approach we rely on all too often!

by Claire-Juliette Beale

Principal Consultant, Innovateǀ2ǀmarket

Board member, PDMA Carolinas