Creativity and divergent thinking, both in everyday life and in professional activity, are one of the key abilities of a person to solve problems that arise before him or, depending on the situation, to find non-standard solutions for standard problems. What is the essence of the concept of creativity, what is divergent thinking and how do these qualities help to effectively manage a business? We will figure out right now.
Since the thought process itself is a quite multifaceted phenomenon, a person’s ability to evade stereotypical ways of thinking is usually explained by the presence of creative imagination. However, along with creative imagination, the concept of creativity raises many questions about how these phenomena are identical to each other and is one branch of the other? If these are different concepts, what is the ratio of creative imagination and creativity in the process of mental activity? What can be attributed to fantasies and what to creativity? Let’s get it straight.
Creativity and divergent thinking
Let’s start with creativity. In the broadest sense, creativity means a general ability to be creative. Creativity is customary to describe a person’s ability to generate non-standard ideas, find original solutions and move away from standard patterns of thinking. Also, this term refers to a person’s ability to find new ways to solve traditional problems.
Creativity can be considered both in narrow and in a broad meaning. In the first case, creativity should be understood as divergent thinking, a characteristic feature of which is the ability to generate many logical and substantiated ideas regarding the solution of the same problem. In the second case, creativity is understood as creative mental abilities, that is, the ability in the process of solving assigned tasks to find contradictions and on this basis put forward hypotheses about which solution in this situation will be most suitable.
Along with divergent, there is also convergent thinking. Divergent thinking is associated with the generation of a large number of decisions based on available specific data. Convergent thinking, in turn, is associated with the search for the only right solution in the presence of many conditions. Thus, convergent thinking is identified with intelligence, which can be measured by IQ tests, while divergent thinking cannot be measured by any tests.
Of all known at the moment, most often there are 7 intellectual abilities that describe creativity as widely as possible. Each of them can be used in the process of solving tasks that arise in front of you of literally any nature, origin and purpose, from marketing and management to recruiting and financial management. A non-standard approach to solving standard problems allows you to generate unique and original ideas, which often help save time, money and effort spent searching for the best solution for this situation.
- Semantic flexibility. The ability to discover new properties of objects and offer new ways to use them.
- Adaptive flexibility. The ability to change the point of view of an object in such a way as to see in it the possibility of non-standard application.
- Spontaneous flexibility. The ability to generate ideas in an unpredictable environment and in conditions of a quick change of emerging tasks.
- Originality. The ability to generate ideas at the level of associations, both in relation to the situation and in relation to the object of the task.
- Curiosity. Sensitivity to problems, tasks, situations and circumstances arising in the usual everyday life.
- Irrelevance. The ability to generate hypotheses and assumptions based on the logical independence of the reaction from the stimulus.
- Fantasticity. The ability to generate ideas that are maximally disconnected from reality, while maintaining the logical connection between the stimulus and the reaction.
All these abilities are usually combined under the generalized name of divergent thinking, which is activated at the moment when the task is already set, but not yet formulated and when it is known that the only true way to solve, as well as the answer, doesn’t exist. That is, divergent thinking is activated at the moment when you need to come up by any means with an idea or solution for a problem that has not previously arisen in practice and when virtually any answer or solution may be correct.
The end product of a creative thought process is an idea. It can be presented in the form of an answer, solution, hypothesis or assumption, but regardless of the situation in which the problem arose, as well as the form and content of the final result, the idea is the basis for further assessment of its relevance for a given situation, risk and benefit analysis and subsequent implementation.
In the process of generating ideas, it’s not necessary that each of them is correct. Creativity under the prism of a brainstorming is a task to come up with the maximum possible number of ideas over a certain period of time, with the expectation that among them will ultimately be the one that is most suitable. It’s also necessary to remember that good ideas come to mind, as a rule, far from immediately, which means that the process of generating ideas should be extended in time (day / week / month) and go through several stages, at least two, and preferably three.
Another selection criterion is the scale of the idea, explaining a wide variety of facts. Often, the most original and fruitful ideas are those that describe the properties of conjugated concepts from a new, still unstudied perspective. A large role in evaluating the idea is played by its depth. This indicator describes the relationship between objects or their properties, which don’t lie on the surface and aren’t obvious, but require an understanding of the essence of the processes for their identification. Ideas that pass these selection criteria, as a rule, turn out to be the most unique, original and non-standard, which ultimately is the reason for their implementation.
Despite the fact that there are a great number of definitions of creativity, nevertheless, all creative abilities are united under the general concept of divergent thinking, which in turn means the general creative abilities of a person. The better these abilities are developed, the more a person is adapted to quickly navigate in an unfamiliar environment, solve inventive problems, find original solutions and generally think outside the box. Finally, remember that there are no people without creative thinking. For some, it is developed to a greater extent, for someone to a lesser extent, but one way or another, everyone has it and it’s always necessary to train it, literally throughout the entire life.