1. Career Advice
  2. Career development
  3. How to use creative thinking to benefit you in the workplace
How to use creative thinking to benefit you in the workplace

How to use creative thinking to benefit you in the workplace

  • What are the 5 types of creative thinking?
  • 1. Associative thinking
  • 2. Critical thinking
  • 3. Convergent thinking
  • 4. Divergent thinking
  • 5. Lateral thinking
  • Why is creative thinking so important in the workplace?
  • How to become a creative thinker
  • Key takeaways

Creative thinking is a powerful tool for professional and personal growth in today’s dynamic work environment. Explore practical strategies and techniques, embrace diverse perspectives, and learn how you can navigate challenges through creative thinking.

The workplace is dynamic and ever-changing. In today’s world, that makes creative thinking more than just a desirable trait in an employee. It’s now a necessary skill. From navigating complex challenges to driving innovation, creative thinking propels individuals and organizations forward. 

Here’s what we will cover on your road to success:

  • What are the five types of creative thinking?

  • Why is creative thinking so important in the workplace?

  • How to be more creative in thinking 

What are the 5 types of creative thinking?

The ultimate goal is to use this style of thinking to inspire you to take action. That means not every situation will rely on the same type of creative thinking. In fact, there are actually several types that fall into this realm.

Here’s a look at the five types of creative thinking:

1. Associative thinking

With associative thinking, you will draw on your mind’s ability to use your unique set of knowledge and experiences to create new perspectives and insights. It involves patterns, similarities, and analogies that you can use to explore complex problems. This type of thinking is especially helpful when you are brainstorming or problem-solving.

2. Critical thinking

The goal of critical thinking is to examine information so that you can make some sort of judgment. To be successful, you must question any biases and beliefs that may come in the way of you being objective. Approach problems with a sense of curiosity or even skepticism instead of accepting information presented at face value. One of the great things about critical thinking is that you can use it in every facet of your life.

3. Convergent thinking

Convergent thinking involves developing a single, correct answer or solution to a problem. You want to find the best solution that lets you reach a specific goal. To find success with this type, you will need to be logical and analytical. Convergent thinking is often used when one is dealing with pre-established standards and guidelines. You will often find yourself using this type when you already have a clear objective or desired outcome in mind.

4. Divergent thinking

When compared to convergent thinking, divergent thinking is a broader concept. When using it, you will strive to generate multiple ideas or solutions to a singular problem. You will explore many possibilities, alternatives, and perspectives as you unconventionally approach problems. You may find yourself making unexpected connections between what you originally felt were unrelated concepts. 

5. Lateral thinking

Lateral thinking has problem-solving methods that aren’t so obvious. The methods you choose may also not be traditional or logical. The concept was first introduced in 1967 by a psychologist named Edward de Bono. His suggestions involved asking unusual questions, exploring a variety of directions and possibilities, and challenging assumptions. Some of the methods you might use are reframing problems and metaphorical thinking.

Why is creative thinking so important in the workplace?

There are several reasons why creative thinking can be beneficial in the workplace. For example, it can help you become a better problem-solver. Since you can approach issues from a variety of angles, you can develop innovative solutions to daily challenges. 

You are also more adaptable when you are a creative thinker and can address unexpected challenges with ease. Being flexible ensures you are able to collaborate with others easily and can help your company stay competitive by generating new ideas, processes, and products.

Creative thinking is great for personal development. It can improve your decision-making capability and make you a better critical thinker. Using it in the workplace can bring confidence, making it easier to express your ideas.

How to become a creative thinker

There are several things you can do to improve your ability to become a creative thinker. First, build your intelligence, attention to detail, and your working memory. While working on this part of the process, here are other tricks to try:

  • Stay curious. When looking at the world around you, keep an open mind and maintain your curiosity. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or explore new topics you want to learn about. Also, keep your imagination alive and seek out new and diverse experiences that can grow your knowledge.

  • Restrict resources. When you limit how many resources you have access to, your mind will be forced to think differently. You will need to use creative thinking in many cases to reach a certain goal when you don’t have a lot of resources. Practicing this when you face smaller challenges can help when facing bigger ones.

  • Develop goals for problems. Before you solve a problem, identify the desired goal. Then, imagine unique ways you can approach the problem so you can reach that goal.

  • Take a step. When faced with uncertainty, focus on feeling challenged instead of fearful. Be brave and ready to explore something new or to approach a situation unconventionally. Risks may be involved in this process, but as long as you take calculated ones, embrace the opportunity to be creative.

  • Experiment. Every challenge you face can be solved by any number of approaches. Test some of those out, and don’t be afraid to fail from time to time. Failing can help you learn more for the future.

  • Practice. When possible, practice being creative in other aspects of your life. Take up hobbies that help you be more creative, and ponder unique solutions to problems you faced in the past. 

If you want to become a creative thinker so you can receive a promotion, our Pathway to Promotion tool can get you where you want to go.

Key takeaways

  1. There are various types of creative thinking, including associative, critical, convergent, divergent, and lateral.

  2. Becoming a creative thinker in the workplace can make you a better problem solver, making it easier for you to face unexpected challenges.

  3. To become a creative thinker, you need to stay curious, practice, experiment, and be willing to take calculated risks.

Share this article