7 Creative Thinking Exercises

by RJ

in Self Improvement

Creative ideas are the lifeblood of your success.

No longer can you show up, perform a routine task, and collect a paycheck. Well technically you can, just don’t expect to get paid more than the those overseas doing the same thing.

Today I’m going to show you 7 different creative thinking exercises that take little time, but can produce amazing results.

7 Creative Thinking Exercises

  1. Stop Pretending Life is a Scantron – There is never just one option or one right answer. Instead of choosing between A,B, C, or D., create an E.
  2. Ask Better Questions – Boring questions produce boring answers. Instead of asking yourself, “How can I accomplish task X”, ask yourself, “What are three different ways I can accomplish X” or “In what way can I accomplish X that excite me.” If that sounds too complicated, go with the much simpler but still effective, “How can I accomplish X creatively?”
  3. Combine – Some of the greatest ideas came from combining two things that already existed. For example, Gutenberg created the printing press from combing a wine press and coin stamp. A recent example, the iPhone was created from combining an iPod with a cell phone. What can you combine?
  4. Break the Rules – Nothing new was created from following rules. George Bernard Shaw wrote, “The reasonable man adapts himself to the conditions that surround him. The unreasonable man adapts surrounding conditions to himself. All progress depends on the unreasonable man.” If the rules are not getting you the results you want, break them.
  5. Use the 5 Why’s – State a problem and ask yourself five times why it exists. By the fifty “why”, you will find the root of the problem. For a more in depth look, I wrote a post on this creative thinking exercise.
  6. Make Purposeful Errors – Have you ever heard the story of how the potato chip was invented? When you think you’re doing everything right, what you’re really doing is staying the same. Not every error will turn will make the next potato chip, but at least you learn what doesn’t work yourself.
  7. Go Against the Grain - Wikipedia defines groupthink as, “A type of thought within a deeply cohesive in-group whose members try to minimize conflict and reach consensus without critically testing, analyzing, and evaluating ideas.” Does this sound familiar? Just about every group I have been a part of suffers from groupthink. Next time you see this taking place, speak up and do something different.


Remember, an idea is worth nothing till action is taken. Do one of the creative thinking exercises today. Then take action.


Photo by: Neil

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

PatrickNo Gravatar December 2, 2010 at 7:23 pm

Very good list, I am leading a group quarterly meeting tomorrow where we will be discussing topics such as how to deal with a shrinking operational budget and how to maximize the use of free resources.


John HunterNo Gravatar December 6, 2010 at 8:39 pm

Another neat idea is “6 thinking hats.” Essentially the idea is to “put on” a hat and look at issues in that light. For example: “The Yellow Hat symbolizes brightness and optimism. Under this hat you explore the positives and probe for value and benefit.” “The Black Hat is judgment – the devil’s advocate or why something may not work.”… http://www.debonogroup.com/six_thinking_hats.php


RJNo Gravatar August 31, 2011 at 4:44 pm

Awesome John. I may have to update this post now. Thanks.


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