Defining creative thinking

Creative thinking… creativity… innovation? How should we think about these terms?

There are countless definitions of creativity, however there tends to be consistency in the inclusion of two elements in the definition.  These elements are novelty and value.

Here are the definitions that we use as we think about everyday creativity.

Creativity is the generation of new ideas that have value.

Creative thinking happens when we call on our imagination to come up with new thoughts and new ideas.

Applied creativity is when we use our creative thinking ability and apply it to a real challenge.

Innovation is the implementation of ideas leading to improvement.

We all have an absolutely phenomenal capacity for creativity…  so put aside any thoughts that being creative is the exclusive domain of artists, musicians and writers!

What we do know, thanks to many studies including one by NASA, is that our innate human ability to dream up the impossible is fully present when we are young. However, our imagination is hindered as we mature.

Over time, the practice of thinking in two modes at the same time (divergent and convergent) as well as experiencing fear, shuts down our imagination and limits our innovative potential.  We can fall out of practice, but the good news is that we can get back in touch with our imagination, we can nurture it and amplify it.

Here’s our favourite explanation on creativity, from Sir Ken Robinson…


What does creative thinking mean to you?