Creative Thinking: Definition and Examples

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By taking the time to review creative thinking and its potential benefits, you can identify new ways to instill creative thinking into your daily life. Identifying areas for personal improvement can lead you to uncover a number of new skills that you can put to practice in both your personal and professional life. In this article, you can learn more about the benefits of creative thinking within the workplace, the types of creative thinking skills and ways to improve your creative thinking abilities.

What is creative thinking?

Creative thinking is the process by which someone is able to view a problem, project or item in a different way and apply unique methods for success in personal and professional areas. In addition to education and experience, employers can seek out candidates with top-notch creative thinking skills. Such an employee can bring new insight to a company and in doing so, help it flourish. 

Benefits of being a creative thinker in the workplace

Here are some of the benefits of being a creative thinker in the workplace:

  • Instills a fresh perspective. A creative thinker in the workplace can help a business remains fresh and innovative, adapting to changes and embracing new procedures within the company.
  • Creates innovative business ideas. A creative thinker can come up with innovative business strategies to help level their company against competitors.
  • Visualizes unique opportunities. A creative thinker might be able to visualize a new product that could elevated business prospects ahead of industry competitors.
  • Cultivates tailored solutions. Those with creative problem-solving skills have the ability to potentially produce unique solutions to company conflicts. This could include identifying areas to save money, solving coworker conflicts or creating new opportunities for revenue.
  • Anticipates issues. Those with good creative thinking skills can identify potential conflicts or miscommunications that could take place on an internal or external level of a business, thus resolving issues before they have time to fully develop.
  • Sees failure as an opportunity. Creative thinkers can use their unique perspective to identify negative results as an opportunity for growth rather than failure. They might see this as an opportunity to evaluate which methods they should and should not use in their next product launch, policy change or investment.
  • Encourages resilience. creative thinking can be a factor in improved confidence and mental strength to complete work efficiently.
  • Grows customer-base. Employees with innovative sales ideas and tactics have the potential to attract and maintain customers.

 An employee who thinks creatively can thrive at their job and can provide benefits to a business.

Common creative thinking skills

Here are some common creative thinking skills that can be used on a resume:


The ability to use written and oral communication methods to create a message for interpretation by another, or the ability to receive a message and further interpret its meaning within a larger context.

Example: The supervisor of a content creator sends out a memo outlining a number of new initiatives that will be used in future content to drive traffic to their site. The content creator thoroughly reads the memo but finds one item that seems vague. Instead of ignoring this and making assumptions about what their supervisor meant, they talk to them directly, asking for further clarification. By doing this, they now know the exact intent of the supervisor and can avoid error.


The ability to identify a problem before weighing the options that would be best to solve a specific problem.

Example: Direct email marketing is not producing the same sales numbers it did in the past. The company decides to try indirect marketing methods to determine a more updated marketing approach.

Analytical thinking

The ability to analyze data and interpret meaning from it that could be applied to a larger situation.

Example: An accountant reviews their company’s balance sheet data to determine three errors that need to be corrected to ensure financial accuracy.


The ability to sort information or physical items in a way that benefits all parties.

Example: A department head delegates tasks among their employees to optimize the amount of work that can be achieved in a given timeframe.


The ability to identify possible changes that might be beneficial to one’s current lifestyle or business.

Example: A company decides to merge the sales and marketing departments. A salesperson sees this as an opportunity for better communication between the two, and a way to inspire more team-oriented goals within the company.

How to improve your creative thinking skills

Here are some methods you can follow to improve your creative thinking skills:

1. First, create limitations

This may sound counterproductive, but it can actually yield some unique results. When there aren’t creative boundaries, people tend to choose the least restrictive path and build off of work that they already completed. By imposing limitations on your creativity, you can challenge yourself to think more in-depth and thus stimulate your creative thinking.

2. Second, think ‘outside of the box’ 

Think of the way things are normally done, then wonder if there is a better way to achieve the same result. You may need to add a few more steps or perhaps build a new device, but it’s worth brainstorming and may lead to new solutions.

3. Third, exercise

Working out can potentially help stimulate your creative thinking through the release of endorphins. By stimulating blood flow, you can stimulate your mind and revive creative ideas that are in your subconscious. 

4. Fourth, work remotely 

Consider finding a new environment to work in if your current environment isn’t helping you work efficiently. This physical distance can instill a sense of psychological freedom and thus, help you think creatively.

5. Then, experiment with lighting

Studies reveal that dimmed lighting increases creativity. Researchers believe that people feel freer when the light is dim. Next time you need to find a solution, consider this approach.

6. Lastly, re-evaluate the way you problem-solve

Try to identify a new way to approach a current problem outside of the problem-solving methods you are familiar with. Consider asking questions about the current project or situation and its specific details. This could potentially help you visualize a new approach to solving the problem.