This report aims to describe the concept of creative thinking skills and the types of creative thinking. The report also tries to study one successful organization and how it has incorporated creative and innovative techniques. Finally, how we can implement creative and innovative ideas in real life is discussed.
Creative thinking is our ability to look at ideas presented or a scenario and find new alternatives that solve the problem (Solange Muglia Wechsler,2017). Best of all, this skill is not bound to creative people like designers, musicians, or other artists. Many people can benefit from thinking this way from time to time. They can also receive several benefits on top of a wide variety of ideas that can spark change. In the early years, human imagination is allowed free rein to build and create images of possible but not yet available ideas and concepts (Anderson C.M,1977). Creativity is, therefore, our ability to form something new out of what has presented. We can think differently and provide new angles and perspectives to a solution (Vygotsky, 2004). This can translate to a new solution that was not there or even the realization that a problem does not need a solution at the moment or all.
Importance of Creative Thinking
Creative thinking and creative thinkers are needed in those situations because it pushes out of that linear way of thinking (Zenasni, 2011). It encourages us to look at other perspectives and even open up to the idea of new solutions.other importance reasons are as follows:
Thinking Creatively Provides Immense Freedom.
When we create, we have the opportunity to engage with the world without judging ourselves. It is similar to what we felt when we were a child. Back then, we didn’t care what people thought of us.
Creative Thinking Provides Self-Awareness.
We start to think with authenticity as we use our thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. This creates biases in our ideas, but we can learn to set those aside and deeply learn about ourselves().
We Become more Confident in our Ideas.
By tapping into creative thinking, we can build our confidence in our ideas and start to contribute to the group and our work at large.
Skills that Complement Creative Thinking
It is a well-known fact that creativity can be developed over time. The following skills complement our creative thinking skills and aid us in solving complex problems.
Perception & Empathy
Being perceptive and empathetic works hand in hand with creative thinking (Newton, D.P,2013). Being able to read the mood of a meeting or a discussion you are having with people can help immensely. This is key because there are times and places to share ideas. Specifically, we may find the best opportunities to share ideas when:
- We are facing a significant problem or issue that looks complex and uneasy to solve
- During times of change, when the future is more obscure than usual, and we are thinking about the possibilities.
- When there is a clear divide between what people think needs to happen. It is especially needed when no compromises can happen without considerable effort.
- When something new is needed and has not been tried before.
Empathy also helps with how an idea is presented. Empathy is letting that person take “ownership” of that idea and be the voice behind the idea. In these sorts of scenarios, we build up more than empathy. It also builds the belief that our idea will prevail in the hands of someone else.
Analytical skills help us in understanding many other situations outside of the social environment. Being able to read text or data and have a deeper understanding of what they mean will serve us in a variety of ways. Being able to analyze information is often the first step in the creative thinking process.
We need to set aside our biases or assumptions and encourage ourselves to look at a problem in a new way. Biases and assumptions are some of the mental barriers people face. However, looking at the other barriers, they often stem from that sort of thinking. When a problem is thought too logically, there is no room for creative thinking. These are limiting because we know that having an open mind is to succeed. Every successful entrepreneur in the world today had to break the rules at some point in their lives. Consider Richard Branson or Elon Musk whose work revolutionized or created an entirely new industry. All because they did not back down to how things were. We can do the same thing within our group in some fashion.
The last thing people associate creative thinkers is that they are organized. Being organized plays a crucial role in creative thinking in that it allows us to organize our ideas better. Not only that, but it also helps to present it as well. When we present ideas, it is similar to a speech. There ought to be a structure, a vision, and have it easy to follow and understand. Furthermore, if our idea is given the green light, we will need to form an action plan, set goals, and have specific deadlines. Being organized will keep us on our toes and prepared for almost anything.
Communication plays a vital role in all this as well. We cannot sell a group or an individual on an idea if we cannot communicate effectively. This applies to both written and verbal communication skills. We can go back to empathy a bit in that we need to understand the situation we are in. This also means we need to be a good listener and being able to ask the right questions.
Sometimes creative thinking means taking two ideas and merging them. This helps because, in most situations, ideas in their base form might not be able to satisfy the original goal or problem. Maybe the idea is outright terrible but, there are some excellent pieces of information in it. The ability to look at ideas and be able to break them down and dissect them and merge with other ideas is a great skill to have. This could quickly help solve disputes and help to find a middle ground.
4 Types of Creative Thinking
Supporting and connecting with the ideas of other people is an abundance mentality. It is associated with employees who are more focused on productivity than office politics. People with an abundance mindset are more grateful, more creative, and focused on collaboration. As a result of this abundant mindset, they attract opportunities, people, and creativity into their lives.
Divergent thinking means generating many different ideas about a topic in a short period. It involves breaking a topic down into its various parts to gain insight into the various aspects of the topic. Divergent thinking typically occurs in a spontaneous, free-flowing manner, such that the ideas are generated in a random, unorganized fashion (Mayer R.E,2004). Following divergent thinking, the ideas and information will be organized using convergent thinking; i.e., putting the various ideas back together in some organized, structured way.
Brainstorming is an activity that helps to generate more innovative ideas. Brainstorming is the process of coming up with new ideas, and it occurs during the divergent phase of the creative process (Putman V L,2009). Brainstorming helps one to generate a large number of ideas so that one can produce different options for solving one’s challenge.
Design thinking utilizes elements from the designer’s toolkit like empathy and experimentation to arrive at innovative solutions. By using design thinking, one can make decisions based on what future customers want instead of relying only on historical data or making risky bets based on instinct instead of evidence. Thinking like a designer can transform the way organizations develop products, services, processes, and strategies (Oxman, R. 2017). It also allows people who are not trained as designers to use creative tools to address a vast range of challenges.
H&M – A Case Study
A little less than a year ago, H&M was grappling with several issues that diminished the retail experience and their bottom line. Not only was it suffering from a sales slump, but the company had a stockpile of unsold inventory worth $4 billion, struggled with style misses and snafus, and was falling behind some of its digital-savvy competitors. Things were looking bleak. However, it took several steps in the right direction, that seemed to be getting back on its feet. In March 2019, H&M reported an increase in online and in-store sales in key markets including Sweden (11% increase), U.K. (8%), Poland (15%), China (16%), and India (42%). The retailer also announced plans to open 175 new stores worldwide by the end of this year.
The following are the innovative steps made by H&M in gaining a strong position in the market.
A New Website and Mobile App
H&M introduced a new website and mobile app equipped with capabilities that promise to improve the retail experience of shoppers both online and in-store. Some of the new features include visual search, which allows users to search H&M’s catalogue using images. There is also Scan & Find, a feature that enables in-store customers to bring up additional product information (such as available sizes) by scanning an item’s tag using their phone. In line with these changes, H&M also introduced live chat, PayPal payments, and additional shipping options. Due to this online website and application, online sales increased by 22%.
A.I. and Big Data to Spot Trends and Improve Product Assortments
While H&M still uses designers and merchandisers to figure out consumers’ preferences, it decided to add another component to its trendspotting efforts: data. In 2018, H&M started using big data-processing algorithms to analyze store receipts, loyalty card information, and returns. It also started analyzing data from web traffic, online articles, and search engines to predict trends months in advance. Doing so enabled H&M to have a better handle on supply and demand, and allowed the retailer to localize assortments for each of its stores. A prime example of big data and A.I. at work can be seen at the H&M store in Östermalm, an upper-class neighbourhood in Sweden According to The Wall Street Journal, after analyzing shopping activity at the Östermalm store, H&M discovered that some of the staff’s assumptions were wrong. For instance, the store staff assumed that local customers were interested in basic apparel for men, women, and children. However, after analyzing the store’s sales and product returns, they discovered that most of the shop’s customers were women who preferred fashion-focused pieces such as floral skirts and higher-priced merchandise. So, the company decided to revamp its assortments by carrying more trendy styles while moving away from basic apparel. H&M also reduced the number of items in the store by 40%, slashing its menswear assortments, and instead added more homeware and high-end products based on the data’s findings. The move paid off. The company told W.S.J. that sales for the store rose significantly, and one local customer even commented that H&M “nailed it,” which speaks to meaningful improvements to the brand’s overall retail experience
Mobile-Friendly Workforce Management
A good chunk of H&M’s workforce consists of non-desk employees who are on their feet 80% of the time. Because of the nature of their work, they need a mobile solution to communicate with each other. In October 2018, H&M addressed this by implementing an employee communication platform that lets users chat with other team members and manage their tasks from one system. Because the solution is mobile-friendly, employees can read and reply to messages and manage their to-dos from anywhere. The platform also eliminates the need for email and other apps, so users do not have to switch from one program to the next when replying to messages or to carry out their tasks. All that can increase employee efficiency, which can ultimately improve the retail experience for customers. When H&M’s staff are devoting less time to checking their emails and switching from various apps, they will have more time to focus on shoppers.
Integrated Payments to Improve Retail Experience
Payments are a critical part of the retail experience, and this is a fact H&M recognizes. The company is currently using the fintech company Klarna to power its online and in-store payments in select markets, essentially integrating H&M’s payments across various channels. According to H&M’s announcement, the integration enhances the retail experience by giving shoppers frictionless in-store, mobile, and online payments. It will also allow for more natural deliveries and returns and give customers the flexibility to decide how and when to pay through a “try before you buy” service. H&M’s partnership (and investment) in Klarna is a smart move and will help the company further connect with younger shoppers because flexible payment solutions and services that let customers try products before buying are rapidly gaining steam. Research from Klarna and Retail Connect found that 71% of consumers would consider ordering products and paying for them after they were delivered (and if they decided to keep them)
Flashy Customer-Facing Innovations
H&M has unveiled a handful of flashy customer-facing initiatives this past year. Some of those technologies include:
- Voice-Activated Mirrors. H&M installed voice-activated mirrors in its Time Square flagship in N.Y.C., with features like facial recognition, as well as the ability to provide style advice and Q.R. code-enabled discount codes.
- H&M Home Stylist. Created together with Google, the Home Stylist is a Google Assistant that can offer style recommendations and create mood boards to give users room design inspiration.
- A.R. Holograms. H&M teamed up with augmented reality company HoLoMe and are looking into creating high-definition holograms that let users explore clothes in greater detail.
It is very clear from the above case study that innovative ideas are the key to success. The first step is to analyze the current situation. When the sales of H&M decreased, they analyzed what has gone wrong instead of worrying. They analyzed the problem and acted quickly by launching a mobile app and website. Another vital thing to be noted is that the mindset of the organization is trying out an entirely new thing. As seen above, thinking too logically kills the space for creative thinking. Open-mindedness of the organization is visible with that approach. Understanding the needs of customers perceptive is another striking thing that made H&M ahead of its competition.
By looking at all the above case study, it is clear that there are different approaches to creative thinking and creative problem-solving. Creativity is not always about inventing a new product but to develop ideas that are smart and practical. Analyzing an existing problem and then solving it with creative and innovative ideas leads to success and hence a creative product or service should aim to solve a problem to have a considerable impact. Experimenting new things without the fear of failure is also a part of creative thinking. Proper analysis is another essential part of creative problem-solving. Analyzing the problems of the customers and acting accordingly is of paramount importance when it comes to creative thinking or creative problem-solving. Hence overall creative thinking involves analyzing, smartly solving a problem, and experimenting with new things without the fear of failure.
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