November 9, 2015 · soft skills

Soft Skill Tip of the Week - Creative Thinking

Creative Thinking

Two years ago, we ran into a problem at work. We wanted to make sure our customers updated the firmware on our devices using the correct file. We several different devices, and it was easy for the customer to download the wrong firmware file and turn the device into a brick. We had eight of the smartest people in our company in one room and we debated what to do for an hour. We limited our thinking by focusing on how we had always done things. It wasn't until someone suggested that we just create ONE firmware file that has all of the firmware in that file and let the software handle the challenge of selecting the correct file. This way, when a customer downloaded a firmware file, they didn't need to know what model device they had or worry about bricking the device. This has made the process of firmware updates for old and new devices painless on our customers.

Creative thinking allowed us to come to a solution that fixed the problem and improve on how we thought about the problem in the first place.

Three Ways to Improve Your Creative Thinking Skills

1. Exercise

Studies show that exercise can improve our creative thinking skills. In addition, regular exercise could improve creativity.

If you're having a tough time solving a problem, take a walk around the block. Just 10-15 minutes can help break through challenging problems.

2. Power Nap

Whenever Thomas Edison couldn't figure out the solution to a difficult problem, he would take a nap in his office chair.

At the feet of the chair, Edison placed several metal pans and held a steel ball in each hand. When he would fall into a deeper sleep, one of the steel balls would fall out of his relaxed hand and make a loud crashing noise on the metal pans. This startled him awake and he immediately wrote down any discovery his mind made just prior to falling asleep. He was able to solve many complex problems because he allowed his mind to relax on the problem but not so much that he lost all thought.

3. Restrict Yourself

One of the more famous examples of restricting oneself was how the book Green Eggs and Ham was created by Dr. Seuss. Green Eggs and Ham was created after Dr. Seuss's editor challenged him to write a book using fewer than 50 distinct words.

When you limit yourself on what you can use, you'll be forced to come up with innovative ways to solve problems. Be like the guys from NASA during Apollo 13: fit a square peg in a round hole.

What ways have you seen creative thinking solve a problem?

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