Five Tips to Thinking Creatively

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Unusual circumstances require us to think outside the box to find solutions. Innovative thinking doesn’t come naturally, but in my experience, entrepreneurs and business owners are naturally imaginative. The key in uncertain times is to move past the stress to tap into that creative energy that made you successful in the first place. Here are a few tips on how to unlock inventive thinking and brainstorming.

Word Banking

This is a technique Hot Dog Marketing utilizes often when we’re working on brand strategy for a client. To kick-start the group, we start just thinking of words that relate to the work we’re trying to create, and we write them on a white board. Once we get our brain juices flowing, we start circling and highlighting the words that are the most inspiring. These words may end up in the messaging or inspiring the design work that comes later.

Rose Bud Thorn Design Thinking

Another favorite technique of our team – we use this to workshop custom website projects with our clients. This works best with a group, but you can do it alone as well. This technique works best if you’re trying to figure out how to fix something. Come up with three lists – things you love about the item you’re fixing (Rose); things you hate (Thorns); and new ideas or opportunities for improvement (Bud). This exercise jump starts ideas for improvement you wouldn’t have thought of on your own. It also gives you lists to help you prioritize what you want to work on.

Journaling or “Zero Drafting”

This is great for writers to unblock writer’s block but can be used to troubleshoot problems you don’t know how to tackle. With no format in mind, just start writing everything you know about a subject, what you want to know about a subject, all the questions you have about the subject. Write down why it’s important and then go back and start figuring out where to start based on your freeform writing. Don’t worry about formatting – just let it flow!

Start with Problems or Worst-Case Scenarios

This can help when you’re really not sure where to start, start at the end and work backwards from the worst-case scenario. Come up with what you don’t want to happen and work backwards on the steps of how it might happen. It can help you and your team come up with preventative measures and ideas you wouldn’t have thought of otherwise.

Be Open to Creative Ideas When They Come

Some people have their big ideas when they’re driving or in the shower. Some CEOs report having their best ideas as they’re falling asleep (great excuse to nap more often). The trick here is to let your brain work when it wants to work. Restricting your creative work time to 9-5 will limit your ideas. Keep a notepad or journal with you to jot or sketch your ideas as they come.

You can use these techniques to solve just about any problem. The key is to open up your mind to ideas. You’ll be surprised of how many ideas you’ll gain if you work through these exercises.