Creative Thinking Changes The World

Thinking is really hard, it’s not a natural brain process. Our minds form connections between existing memories. We evolved to predict danger, as a survival instinct. Our actions are based on prior knowledge or previous experiences. So we are great at reacting to events and copying or modifying existing ideas. But we are hopeless at devising new concepts and innovations without a degree of sacrifice on our sanity.

Creativity isn’t a gift or spawned from divine intervention. New ideas require an immense amount of mental work and patience. The brain is not designed for deep thinking. It’s why some creative people become addicts. At best hooked on caffeine, at worst alcoholics. Because the process of original thinking is unnatural. Inventing new concepts is a lot of trial and error, a lot of indecision.

Product Design Builds On Previous Ideas

Commercial designers rely on visual stimuli or look to trends for inspiration. Because time is money and most clients are not paying us to reinvent the wheel. Designers follow best practices and guidelines based on proven scientific evidence. Effective designs work by understanding psychology. It’s why empathy is so crucial in UX design. Products can’t afford to take chances.

Collective thinking is another cost effective way to innovate. Digital teams benefit greatly from inclusive brainstorming sessions. Bouncing ideas around with colleagues is a certified shortcut to new concepts. Teams will of course still rehash and rely on tried and tested solutions to save time. But innovation has a better chance of breaking through with a team effort.

Creative ideas will also be drawn from analysis of data, the most visited pages or viewed images. We can then use science to understand why users responded to some elements and not others. What we dare not do is take risks with abstract ideas. As most consumers of web content need predictability.

Thinking Time Nurtures Innovation

Innovative thought is expensive because it’s largely about failing more often than you succeed. Few companies can afford this luxury. Apple or Google are great examples of having the resources to push boundaries and break stuff. Anyone can develop great ideas when they are give both time and handsome rewards.

Creative block usually manifests when there are time constraints. When we are working within a tight budget. Impatience sets in. We also stall when there is too much time. So we need a structure to our thinking process. But we need ideas quickly, because life is busy. If we could do nothing but focus on one thing for a whole day, we’d soon begin to innovate.

When groundbreaking ideas do begin to germinate, then you need to make space for thinking time. Making notes and formulating ideas makes the process easier. But the real hard toil is working out solutions. Society generally discriminates against thinkers. It’s not “real” work. So most of our new ideas are built on what worked before. We use existing skills in different contexts to get things moving quickly.

The Brain Is The Hardest Worker

If humans struggle with creative thinking then how can computers ever be expected to become sentient? AI futures are fanciful but makes good copy for tech journalists. Machines can only work with data, fed to it by us. And in some ways recycling ideas from previous input is what we do best. Most of the time we have to be efficient with our brain power in order to survive.

Once in a while, we allow ourselves time to think more carefully about novel ways to solve a problem. We let go of the guilt of inaction. Thinking (or brainstorming) can induce a sense of being unproductive. But creative thinking is very much a physical process, it’s productive work. Our brain uses the most energy than any other part of our body. But we fool ourselves that an end product is the work itself.

We demand a high level of creativity from our cultural pursuits such as games, films, books or music. On the other hand the business world may not take creativity as seriously as it should. It’s as though creative thinking isn’t real work. But creativity makes a difference and often helps economies grow faster. Quality thinking time is also integral to the design of products and apps.