Creative Thinking in Business Part 3

87Creative Thinking Business Tools

Even if you don’t consider yourself creative, you can learn some useful skills and techniques to help you tap into creative ‘right brain’ thinking and bring a new perspective to problems in business or indeed in your private life.

Let’s have a look in detail at some popular business tools for creative thinking.

Lateral thinking

Lateral thinking is a term for a problem solving approach that uses an indirect and creative approach, applying reasoning that is not immediately obvious and involving ideas that may not flow naturally using traditional thinking and step-by-step logic. It involves looking at the problem or situation from unexpected angles, challenging, thinking “outside the box “. The term was coined in 1967 by Edward de Bono.


We have discussed brainstorming in detail in our earlier lesson on decision making, so will just summarise it here. For more information go to

Decision Making

Brainstorming or “thought shower” as it is now sometimes called, combines a relaxed approach to problem solving with lateral thinking. It can be carried out in several ways, and is useful for involving everyone in the team, no matter how senior or junior they are. Junior team members, who are not immersed in the detail of management on a daily basis, often come up with the most effective ideas.

Conventional analytical processes limit imagination, so participants are encouraged to contribute whatever comes into their mind without any evaluation or consideration.

Unconventional ideas are built on, there is no judgement, comment or criticism of the idea. The intention is to unlock unconscious ideas, and to evaluate them at this stage will stem the flow of creativity.

Ideas do not have to be fully formed as thought through proposals, just thrown into the arena to be discussed and developed later. Part of the success of brainstorming is due to the fact that the contributor does not have to present a reasoned solution with all details thought through.

Brainstorming brings team members’ different experiences into play, and produces a rich seam of ideas that can be explored, which means that better all-round solutions to the problems may be developed. It also helps with buy-in from team members for the solution chosen, it helps team members bond, and solve problems in a positive, rewarding environment.

Mind Maps

Mind Maps, developed by Tony Buzan. are a way of showing information visually, in the same way that the brain maps concepts, in a non-linear, interconnected view.

Mind Maps make use of colour, images and symbols to help stimulate the brain’s recall.

They are usually created around a single word or text, placed in the centre, to which associated ideas, words and concepts are added.

Buzan suggests using these principles;-

  • Use plain paper in a landscape position.
  • Write your theme in a circle, in colour, in the centre of your page.
  • Draw a short line from the circle and write your first thought, in one or two words.
  • Add branches to the line for connected ideas. Don’t add to the end of the branch, this will close the idea down.
  • Start a new branch from the centre circle when new unconnected ideas, occur to you.
  • Use lots of images.
  • Print words in capital letters.
  • To give structure, printed words should be on lines and each line should be connected to other lines.
  • Print words one to a line.
  • Use colours to help memory recall and stimulate creativity.
  • Be spontaneous
  • Use colours for different branches and ideas.
  • Highlight associated words with the same colour. This help see connected areas
  • When your ideas cease, scan read your map and put it away. This helps your mind to come up with new ideas when you are not thinking about it