These fifteen brainstorming prompts will help you and your team solve problems together.
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Innovators are among us and within us, spot them by how they think and do things differently.

Either for individuals or businesses, creativity is a long-term endeavor. It must be cultivated. What fuels creativity? Creativity is a combination of intrinsic and extrinsic factors.

Why can innovators find more view spots than others? Why can innovators think different and connect unusual dots effortlessly? Innovators see possibility in the world when most people only see the way that they have been told. Innovators are the rare breed, but innovators are also among us and within us. Here are five perspectives of being innovative.

Perception

Perception is one’s interpretation of reality. Perception is based on people’s thought processes which are influenced by their thinking styles and cognitive understanding, as well as the breadth and depth of knowledge, etc. A perceptive mind is subjective but can be open enough to embrace other minds’ perception. Having a learning attitude allows us to become more positive and gives us the energy to overcome obstacles and practice creativity frequently.

How we wish to impact the world creatively has to be in alignment with our perception. With an ever-changing world, it is important to consciously update perceptions for things we are not sure or people we do not know well. The purpose is to make appropriate adjustments and lead changes creatively.

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Plasticity

Neuroplasticity refers to the life­long capacity of the brain to change and rewire itself in response to the stimulation of learning and experience. In neuronal terms, this involves disabling some of the “wiring” and working on the new ones. All of that requires a deliberate mental effort. The cognition involves exploring varieties of meanings or thoughts, abandoning old connections, and establishing new relations to trigger creativity.

A creative mind with plasticity is able to absorb all necessary knowledge and adjust its thinking processes according to changes in its environment, as well as applying the acquired knowledge and lessons to succeed in new situations, in order to connect wider dots for sparking creativity.

Pattern Recognition

Patterns are defined as “solutions of problems in a context” with a body of “descriptions of forces.” Pattern thinking is a type of creative thinking because sometimes when we tie patterns together, we can navigate among them for figuring out alternative solutions. Patterns are containers for describing relationships; pattern thinking is a type of hybrid thinking to combine design thinking, architect thinking, system thinking, and visual thinking for creative problem-solving.

To be creative, you need to continually discover new patterns. It requires you to keep your eyes open and keep your mind off the box in order to break down the conventional thinking box and actively seek out new ideas wherever you can discover them.

Problem-Solving

Innovation is all about the madness of solving problems and doing things in a better way. Unless there is a problem, there is no creativity. Creativity needs a problem, and a creative person needs a purpose. Being creative is about how to solve a problem intelligently and come up with elegant solutions. Change, creativity, and problem-solving are all interrelated.

It takes courage to get out of conventional thinking box, practice creative thinking to come out novel ideas, broaden thoughts and connect wider dots for coming up with better solutions. You never know how innovative you might be in some field before encountering the problems and before the adoption of solutions. Creative problem-solvers are able to reframe circumstances or conditions around a problem and solve it in an alternative way.

Personality

People are different; we all have different characters, personalities, favorite activities, strengths, and weaknesses. When we say personality, we are talking about mindsets, traits, emotions, attitudes or behavior. Thinking is the seed that molds and makes one’s life. The way we think has much of effect and impact on how we interact with the world.

Extroverts can share ideas or thoughts by interacting with others or the environment proactively; introverts can spend more time on contemplation, often creativity is nurtured in solitude. Both personality types have great opportunities to be creative. Both introverts and extroverts need to learn how to think profoundly, connect interdisciplinary dots, be open to new experiences, and tolerate ambiguity for stimulating creativity.

Innovators are among us and within us, spot them by how they think and do things differently. Empower them to build the culture of innovation. The world needs more of creative thinkers who can handle the ever-increasing complexities and discover the unique path for leading digital transformation smoothly.

By Pearl Zhu

About the author

Pearl Zhu is an innovative “Corporate Global Executive” with more than twenty-one years of technical and business working experience in strategic planning, Information Technology, software development, e-commerce and international trading, etc. She holds a master’s degree in Computer Science from the University of Southern California, and she lives in the San Francisco Bay Area for 15+ years. She is the author of the Digital Master book series and the Future of CIO blog.

Listen to this podcast to find out what roles curiosity and humility play in innovation.