What is creativity – 6 tools to help generate new ideas!

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What is creativity - 6 tools to help generate new ideas!
What is creativity - 6 tools to help generate new ideas!

Creativity is the Means to Generate New Ideas

Use Creativity Tools to Uncover Hidden Ideas


Albert Einstein once said,

“I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious”.

You may be wondering what this quote has to do with creativity.  Yes, curiosity is indeed central to creativity. You cannot be creative without being curious.

Though there is no ‘one size fits all’ kind of a solution or method to stay curious, there are few things that you can learn and follow to enhance your curiosity and in turn creativity.

Following are the two important tips you can take note of:

Tip 1

Tip 2

Though it’s always easy not to question things around and accept as they are, it is tough to challenge them and remain hungry for more information. But challenging things and remaining curious for insights has several benefits:

  1. It keeps the mind active through constant exercise.
  2. Curious people are always open to new ideas. They seek new ideas from things they are curious about and identify new opportunities. Those who are not curious, fail to sense the ideas and the potential opportunities they bring.
  3. It keeps you always exited and breaks your boredom.


What is creativity?

Creativity for generating ideas

When a connection is made between different bits of information in the brain in novel or surprising ways, one is said to have undergone a creative process. Creativity is the ability to create or bring out new ideas from traditional ones. Creative thinking is one of the most important skills that one needs to have to be a great problem solver.


What prevents creativity from happening?

Stress is the biggest cause that hampers the creativity of individuals. Whatever may the reason for stress be, it prevents people from being able to think extraordinarily and generate surprisingly new ideas. You may argue that even though the present pandemic has caused stress worldwide, innovators have still managed to come up with new products or business models. My take on that is that stress affects only individuals and not teams.

When do you think is the team stressful? 

Teams have goals and objectives which they need to achieve in time. This can be done by boosting their productivity in different ways. So if they can achieve them well in time, the team is stress-free and if not, the team becomes stressed. Here the important point to be noted is that even though the team consists of many individuals, it has a common goal. So when the goal is not achieved, the team leader usually takes responsibility or is held responsible for the failure. In such a case, no team member except the team leader is stressful.

Even when all team members are held responsible for failure or are affected by it, two things happen. Firstly, stress is distributed equally among individuals. Secondly, as long as all are affected in the same way, mutual empathy and subsequent emotional bonding help relieve the stress of individuals. They start to understand each other in a better way and with no boundaries of imposed responsibilities, come up with creative solutions. We are seeing the same picture in the present outbreak.


Ways to Generate Creative Ideas – The Tools

We can expand our horizons of thinking and enhance our creativity through tools that encourage different thinking styles. Here the thing to be remembered is that the tools do not produce ideas but assist in the idea generation process. Following are some of the popular tools that can be quite helpful in the creative thinking process and generating new business ideas:

  • Brainstorming
  • Six Thinking Hats
  • Morphological Analysis
  • Theory of inventive problem solving or TRIZ
  • SCAMPER
  • ILAC

Let’s discuss each in detail:


Brainstorming

Brainstorming involves a group of people usually from multidisciplinary backgrounds to solve the problem at hand. This technique encourages and welcomes as many ideas as possible from people without taking into account the depth or quality. Rules to be kept in mind before brainstorming:

  • Availability of pencils, charts, and paper for all
  • Defined schedule
  • Number of people should not exceed ten for effective outcomes
  • No mockery of ideas or criticism is allowed

Different types of Brainstorming techniques are flip chart, brainwriting, round-robin brainstorming, and starbursting to name a few. The aim of all such types of brainstorming is to get the maximum possible ideas from the team members.


Six thinking hats

Six thinking hats were created by Edward De Bono and published in his book in 1985 with the same name. This tool is used to evaluate the idea and in decision making. The technique helps individuals and groups to broaden their thinking and encourage fresh solutions with the help of six different perspectives or thinking approaches recognized with 6 different hats marked in 6 different colors.

The most powerful feature of this tool is that it avoids a creative conflict within the team. In simpler words, it avoids conflict that may occur due to the diverse thinking styles of different team members. While using this tool, each team member uses the same style of thinking or hat for a defined period and then switches to another style. Six different hats are as follows:

  • White hat – It encourages the wearer to collect information and facts for the problem at hand
  • Red hat – It requires the wearer to focus on hunches or intuition or emotions. Using this hat, you can express your fears, emotions, likes, or dislikes about a particular problem.
  • Black Hat – Signifies judgment. It looks for difficulties or probable negative outcomes that may arise from a decision
  • Yellow Hat – It is used to identify benefits from a particular idea. Using this hat, you explore positive outcomes.
  • Green Hat – It focuses on creativity and wearing this, people explore new ideas and possibilities.
  • Blue Hat – It shows the big picture. It controls the overall process and ensures that the guidelines of using the six thinking hats are followed
Image Source: storyboardthat.com


Morphological Analysis

It involves breaking the product, system, or process into subsystems or sub-functions or parameters and placing them in the form of a matrix. The possible means or methods are identified to fulfill each sub-system or sub-function. The purpose is to find new ideas through different combinations in the matrix.

For example, choosing method 1 for sub-system 1, method 3 for sub-system 2, and method 2 for sub-system 3 can lead to one of the possible outcomes or a new overall solution to a particular problem. Likewise, there can be multiple combinations. Some combinations can already exist while some can be entirely new.


TRIZ

TRIZ is a Russian acronym and its nearest possible translation in the English language is ‘Theory of inventive problem solving’. This technique was developed by 1946 by Genrich Altshuller, a Russian inventor and a patent reviewer at the Russian Naval Patent Office.

It helps to overcome “psychological inertia” or tendency to rely on one’s own experience and not looking outside their specialty.

As per TRIZ, problems can be classified into two groups:

Those with known solutions – Such problems can be solved by following the general pattern of problem-solving as shown in the image below where a specific problem is converted into a standard problem of similar nature. From the standard solution (which is known) of this standard problem, a specific solution to a problem is derived.

For example, in designing a thermal storage system (a specific problem), a material with a high heat capacity to weight ratio is required. Since the materials with high heat storage capacity tend to have high thermal mass (due to storage in form of sensible heat only), the analogous standard problem is to have reduced thermal mass for given heat storage capacity.

The analogous standard solution is to use phase-changing material with higher heat storage capacity to weight ratio as a major portion of heat is stored in the form of latent heat. The quantity and other specifications of phase change material can be optimized to get the desired thermal storage system.

Those with no known solutions – Also called inventive problems, here the solution does not come from the domain in which the problem exists but from outside that domain of expertise. For example, the solution for a food industry may exist in the cement industry but due to the inability of food experts to think or see beyond their area of expertise, a transformational solution remains hidden.

Here the problem is redefined in terms of physical contradiction i.e. worsening of one technical characteristic while improving another. The problem is solved by identifying 39 engineering parameters that cause conflict and 40 inventive principles.


SCAMPER

This technique is attributed to Bob Eberle, author of books on creativity. SCAMPER stands for:

  • Substitute – Replace some portion of a concept, idea, or product with something else.
  • Combine – Join or force together two or more elements of the thing and find ways built around this combination to arrive at a solution.
  • Adapt – Make changes in few parts of the problem or thing to make it useful for a different application
  • Modify – Change shape, size, and form of an object to get new ideas from it.
  • Purpose or Put to other use – find new uses of the thing or subject at hand by thinking about its current utility or asking why it exists.
  • Eliminate – Remove all or a few parts or elements of the idea or thing or simplify to arrive at new ideas.
  • Reverse or Rearrange – Change orientation, see if all or some parts can be mirrored, change direction, turn inside-out or upside-down to get new insights.

Creative thinking tools can be very effective in arriving at new and radical ideas that are otherwise hard to generate. Such tools can boost the thinking ability of your team and can play a vital role in popularizing creativity across your business avenues.


ILAC

This technique has been developed by us in-house to help MSMEs (micro, small & medium enterprises/ businesses) and startups generate profitable business ideas using their existing resources.  ILAC stands for Identify, list, analyze, and combine.

At first, companies’ resources as well as other or indirect resources are identified. Then various industries under different sectors are listed. More the number of industries you list, the more the number of business ideas you discover. Resources are then analyzed based on functional grounds and finally, the industries and resources are combined in the form of a matrix. In the matrix, you will uncover many pairs of similar functions of different resources. These pairs reveal new product & business ideas. The detailed step by step guide that explains this technique for uncovering new products or business ideas can be found here.


Conclusion

Creativity is now becoming essential for businesses especially when the disruption is happening in products, business models, and even in behavioral patterns of customers. It’s a creative culture of a big brand like Apple that has made it one of the most innovative companies in the world. Businesses should make creativity as their essential part as it gives them competitive advantage by adding value to their products, services, and more importantly to their business as a whole.


Do you feel there is something more to be included? Kindly write to us. We will be more than happy to consider your valuable suggestions.