The different ways of thinking that influence creativity

The perception of curious elements, systematic analysis and synthesis, unusual associations and combinations, the transposition of analogies, all of these different ways of thinking boost and increase the likelihood of finding new ideas during the problem-solving, design process. There are other mental procedures, whose application is necessary whenever the designer creates something new, such as analysis, synthetic thinking, intuition, hypothetical thinking and analog thinking.

Analytical thinking is the way of recognizing, classifying, and describing the elements of a problem. During the creative process, the analysis disassembles the existing situation and then creates a chaotic state. The conclusions of the analysis may give clues to the realization of a hypothesis, an analogy or a new synthesis. The analysis is one of the creative thinking skills that is most practiced in design teaching and industrial design [Baxter, 2000].

Intuitive thinking is a direct and immediate contemplation of a reality or a problem. It is an unconscious thought in which the procedure is not explicable. Physicist Gerd Binnig says that intuition is a type of analysis or synthesis that does not proceed logically when the problem is too complex. Through intuitive thinking, the designer makes a decision about the design situation, to improve the functioning of intuition qualitatively and quantitatively. Good mastery of discipline or the realization of meditation techniques to create a relaxed state, calm breathing, serenity, and empathic identification with the problem to be solved are necessary.

Hypothetical thinking is another procedure of creative thinking, which consists in the ability to suppose and ground. In design, as a rule, a plausible explanation of the facts is provisionally adopted, with the aim of subjecting it to methodical verification through experience.

Analogical thinking appears as a mental process of bi-association of ideas that allows to establish new unusual relations between objects and situations. To create is to recombine knowledge through the development of analogical thinking, which requires the training of the imagination and the use of metaphors. Semantic reformulations or the use of synonyms can support and train the design of analogies and metaphors.

All these forms of thinking work and supporting the generation of ideas are part of creative thinking, and although they are described separately, in practice and during the creative process, combinations of these are always performed [Tschimmel, 2003].

For better fluidity, flexibility and originality of creative thinking there are techniques that we can apply and, in this way, train our brains. Within the systemic perspective of the emergence of ideas, there are techniques such as Brainstorming (for an intense activation of memory, for intuitive and emotional thinking, and for letting ideas go) or their variants Brainsketching and Brainwriting, Mind Map (to exhale thinking and develop the ability to switch between analysis and synthesis, to find links between various subjects), Semantic and Random Confrontation (for the production of associations and unusual combinations) and Analogies (to cross knowledge of various symbolic domains).

Nowadays, a large part of the people take care of their body with a good diet and a good dose of physical exercise, but hardly anyone recognizes the need to train their brain, that can also be faster and flexible. As we develop the muscles and capacities that allow us, for example, to dance more and better, we can also exercise memory or practice and perfect the capacities of creative thinking. Those who have participated in various sessions of Brainstorming will have developed a greater capacity to think fluently and without prejudice. Someone who has already established many analogies develops his ability to think analogically, so does the other techniques.

To foster creativity is to create conditions for creative thinking and for the application of various techniques and methods, which should not be seen as a set of isolated actions but as an iterative process. The promotion of a culture of creativity and the generation of ideas refer to the promotion of creative thinking as an element of the innovation process.

Thinking creatively can transform everyday life, it is a way of relating to life.

If you are interested in this topic I recommend you:

Moreira, J. (2016). O objecto como impulsionador do Pensamento criativo. Porto: ESAD, Matosinhos. Tese de Mestrado

Tschimmel, K. (2011). Processos Criativos. A emergência de ideias na perspectiva sistémica da criatividade. Matosinhos: Ed. ESAD.

Adams, James L. (1986). Guía y juegos para superar bloqueos mentales, 2a ed. Barcelona: Editorial Gedisa.

Baxter, M. (2000). Projeto de produto. Guia prático para o design de novos produtos, 2. Ed. S. Paulo: Editora Edgard Blücher.


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