1. Be a good listener. Before you dive into any project, you need to first listen to the overall goals of the project. The end result may vary as the project moves forward, but the overall goals established in the beginning should remain constant. It’s your job as the creative thinker to pay close attention to those and interpret them creatively. The only way to do that is to be a great listener and truly digest the focus of the project.
2. Become a master of observation. Whether the project is B2B (business to business) or B2C (business to consumer), you need to anticipate/predict how that interaction will go. It’s important to do your research and expand your knowledge of the product, service, industry, etc. This is where you figure out how people think.
- If you’re creating a consumer facing product, you’ll need to understand the science behind why people buy, the subconscious tendencies of consumers for that type of product and how they relate to it.
- If you’re developing a mobile application, you’ll need to demonstrate the need by understanding where the holes are in the current market. Anticipate the user experience, observe how people respond to certain interface layouts and become the consumer by predicting their next move.
Fun quote to think of while observing …
“Logic makes people think. Emotions make people act” – Alan Weiss
3. Give yourself time to explore the possibilities. Challenge yourself to think outside of your comfort zone. Set timed “sky is the limit” brainstorming sessions with yourself (or your team) to separate out the good and “not for this project” ideas. These sessions typically involve lots of coffee, a white board, and google.
4. Wear many hats. We are humans before we are creators so it’s important to remember that we wear many hats throughout this process. We are both the consumer and the creator, the critic and the driving force. Don’t marry your ideas before you’ve had time to test them with yourself as the consumer or the critic.
5. Stimulate your mind. Throughout the day, your brain goes through creative highs and lows so it’s important to figure out how you to access them for optimal creative thinking. There are many ways to stimulate your mind; you just have to find the one that works best for you.
- If you’re a 5:30am, coffee drinker/reader like myself you know that you digest information best from 6am to 9am and ready to tackle the workday by 10am. If you prefer a later start, perhaps a mid day workout would have you in prime time thinking mode by early afternoon.
- Read, watch, or do something absurd. Sounds crazy but this will definitely get your wheels spinning for “out the box” thinking. My favorite experience with this was participating in a real-life group problem-solving clue game.
6. Give yourself deadlines. This is wear you start narrowing your creative focus and start prepping for work. Most projects can have endless ideas, spin-offs, and if you’re in a team many different opinions. If you set deadlines, you’ll be able to select successful ideas in a more efficient way each and every time.
7. Recognize when it’s time to get to work. Take all that fantastic research, scratch notepaper and snapshots of the white board and start putting them to work. This is by no means the end of your creative thinking process but rather the beginning of seeing your creative journey come to life.
The timing of these steps are relative to each project as certain steps will require more attention than others depending on the creative focus. It’s you’re job to know when to hit the start and stop button. By understanding the process, you’re already on your way to being a better creative thinker.