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  • Prem Sundaram

What is Creativity?

In this article I'm going to discuss the concept of 'creativity' and show you how to use tools like mind mapping and story outlines to help you achieve more creative ideas and to assist the process of research. We will also look at some of the best tools for brainstorming methods and techniques which many creative people use and which can help you become a more creative individual.


creative people on a desk in an office
How do we foster greater creativity?

I love innovation and discussing new ideas. It's what makes me get up in the morning and figure out what new feature we should add to NoteDex, or what new concept we should consider. As an innovator I am always intrigued as to the process of innovation.


Creativity is a complex topic, but here goes!


So, Just What is Creativity?


There is no single definition of creativity, but it can be described as the ability to come up with new and original ideas. This could involve coming up with new ways to solve problems, or creating something new that has never been seen before. Creativity often involves thinking outside the box and seeing things in a different way to others. Creativity is a pretty broad term and not just for writers. There are many creative problems that we have to solve, from graphics design to software development to marketing, so we can perhaps think of 'creativity' as the process that allows you to get to a new thought or outcome, or solution to a problem. We'll speak more about the process of creativity later in this article and hopefully that will shine light on what creativity is. The tools and techniques we outline will also suggest that creativity can be improved both for yourself and your team.


What do others say? In the study of creativity, some leading authorities have their views, such as:


Encyclopedia Britannica says 'creativity, the ability to make or otherwise bring into existence something new, whether a new solution to a problem, a new method or device, or a new artistic object or form.'


Wikipedia says "Creativity is a phenomenon whereby something new and valuable is formed. The created item may be intangible (such as an idea, a scientific theory, a musical composition, or a joke) or a physical object (such as an invention, a printed literary work, or a painting).. Scholarly interest in creativity is found in a number of disciplines, primarily psychology, business studies, and cognitive science."

What are Different Types of Creativity?

There are different types of creativity, such as:

  • Artistic creativity : This type is expressed through artistic forms such as painting, drawing, sculpting, music, and dance.

  • Creative writing : This type is expressed through writing novels, short stories, poems, and plays.

  • Scientific creativity : This type is expressed through scientific discoveries and inventions.

  • Business creativity : This type is expressed through developing new products or services, or improving upon existing ones.

I think we can all agree that creativity may be powered by many factors and let's discuss what some of those are as foundational items for this paper.

What is the Mind and its Role in Creativity?

Your mind is the seat of creativity. It is where ideas are born and nurtured. The role of the mind in creativity is to incubate and develop ideas, to see potential in the rawest of concepts, and to bring those ideas to fruition. The mind is a powerful tool that can take a seed of an idea and turn it into a full-blown masterpiece. Without the mind, creativity and innovation would be stifled. The mind is the engine that drives creativity and is the engine for our creative abilities.

What is Intuition and its Role in Creativity?

Intuition is the ability to understand something instinctively, without the need for conscious reasoning. It is often described as a 'gut feeling' or 'sixth sense'. Intuition is considered to be a very important part of creativity, as it allows us to tap into our subconscious mind and come up with new and original ideas. Many famous creatives have spoken about the role of intuition in their work, and how it has helped them to come up with groundbreaking ideas and develop new ideas.

What is Reason and its Role in Creativity?

Reason is the faculty of the human mind that enables us to think, understand, and draw logical conclusions. It is the foundation of our ability to make sense of the world around us and solve problems.


Reason plays an important role in creativity. It allows us to see relationships between things and to find new ways of doing things. Without reason, we would be limited to the solutions that we already know. Reason allows us to explore new possibilities and to come up with original ideas.

What is Cognition and its Role in Creativity?

Cognition is defined as "the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses." It encompasses everything from perception and memory to attention and language. In short, it is the ability to think and reason. Cognition plays a critical role in creativity. It allows us to take in new information, make connections between ideas, and come up with original solutions to problems. Without cognition, we would be unable to generate new ideas or see the world in new ways.

What is Imagination and its Role in Creativity?

Imagination is the ability to generate mental images, sensations and ideas. It is an important part of creativity as it allows us to come up with new concepts and ideas. without imagination, we would be limited to the things that we have already experienced.

What is Consciousness and its Role in Creativity ?

Consciousness refers to the state of being aware of and able to think, feel and perceive. It is the ability to be aware of your surroundings and make decisions. It is the part of the brain that allows you to be aware of your thoughts and feelings and make choices. Creativity is the ability to come up with new ideas or ways of doing things. It involves the ability to see things in new ways, to think outside the box, and to come up with original solutions. Consciousness plays a role in creativity by allowing us to be aware of our thoughts and feelings and make choices. When we are consciously aware of our thoughts and feelings, we are more likely to come up with new ideas. When we are able to think outside the box, we are more likely to find original solutions.

What is Memory and its Role in Creativity?

Memory is the power of the mind to recall past experiences or to remember information. It is essential for learning and creativity. Without memory, we would not be able to learn from our mistakes or build on our successes. We would be unable to create new ideas or solve problems in novel ways. Memory allows us to store information so that we can access it later when we need it. Creativity requires the ability to come up with new ideas, and memory plays an important role in this process. We need to be able to remember what has been done before in order to build on it and create something new. Without memory, we would be limited to the present moment and would not be able to draw on our past experiences to generate new ideas.

What is Artificial Intelligence and its Role in Creativity?

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a branch of computer science that deals with the creation of intelligent machines that can work and react like humans. AI is an interdisciplinary field that includes philosophy, psychology, linguistics, and engineering. AI plays a role in creativity by providing a means to create new ideas or solutions to problems. AI can help humans to explore new possibilities and to find new ways of doing things. AI can also help humans to create new products or services that are more efficient and effective than those that currently exist. The big advancements in AI today mean that the AI engines like GTP-3 are powering many softwares to help them assist users in creative endeavors, like in the huge wave of 'AI' writers available today! The advances in AI are actually leading to an influx in research on creativity, since AI is now supporting researchers and writers and helping them to increase creativity - like a turbo charger!



With these definitions out of the way lets discuss some of the techniques used to enhance creative thinking.



Tools for Creativity and Intelligence


Visualization

Visualization is a technique that can be used to stimulate creativity. It involves creating mental images in order to generate new ideas or solutions. This can be done by picturing different scenarios, or by imagining objects and scenes. When the mind sees things it can make visual connections that enhance creativity. For example, when you see a spiral in nature, your mind might connect it with the idea of a never-ending journey or constant change. This connection can inspire you to create something new or come up with an innovative solution to a problem. One tool that is used to 'visualize' thoughts and ideas is called a mindmap and is way that creativity is seen.

Mindmap

A mind map is a graphical representation of ideas or concepts. It is a useful tool for brainstorming and organizing information. Mind maps can help you to see the relationships between ideas, and to organize and remember information more effectively. Here is an example of a mindmap. Mindmaps were created by Tony Buzan, who is a British author and educational consultant. His work has been shown to impact creativity and help people become more creative.


Concept Mapping

Concept mapping is a technique that can be used to visually organize information. It involves creating a diagram that shows how different concepts are related to each other. This can be helpful when trying to learn new information or understand complex ideas. Concept maps can also be used to brainstorm ideas or plan projects.

Group concept mapping builds on this, and is a technique that can be used to generate new ideas or to solve problems using the power of a team of people. It involves creating a map of concepts, which are then linked together to form new ideas or solutions. This technique can be used with a group of people, in order to brainstorm new ideas, or it can be used alone, in order to better understand a problem. Group concept mapping can be an effective way to generate new ideas, or to find solutions to problems.

Software Tools to Foster Creativity

There are some great tools out there today for helping you be more creative. It's one of the reasons we built NoteDex and we also love using may other tools in our creative and idea capturing phases of work. Such tools support the creativity of individuals.

XMind

Xmind is a mind mapping software that helps you capture and organize your thoughts, ideas and information. It provides an efficient way to brainstorm, organize and communicate your ideas. You can use it to create mind maps, flowcharts, org charts and other types of diagrams. Xmind is available for Windows, Mac and Linux. It's a great tool and worth checking out. We use it all the time to help visualize our thoughts and generate outlines for writing or planning (at which point we hand over to NoteDex).

Outlining is a great way to organize your thoughts and ideas. It can help you to see the connections between different ideas, and it can also help you to remember important information. When you are outlining, you can use different colors or symbols to represent different ideas. This can be a helpful way to visually see the relationships between your ideas.


Learn more about X-Mind


NoteDex

Notedex is a software application that allows users to capture and manage your thoughts. You know how you can scribble down ideas and thoughts on index cards? NoteDex is a virtual index card / notecard software that allows you to have digital life-like notecards that support your creative process.


Index Card Mindmap
Example of a Mindmap drawn on a NoteDex Index Card

The application provides a variety of features for creating and managing notes, including the ability to create notes from scratch, organize notes in different views, and share notes with others. As important as it is to take notes for note-taking, the quality of the app for information retrieval is just as important. Most note apps miss this part of the information processes. That's one of the reasons we built NoteDex, to make it easy to organize and retrieve your notes.

Learn more about NoteDex



OneNote

OneNote from Microsoft is a great general note taking app that will allow you to capture long notes of creative thinking as well as import PDF's. Unlike NoteDex that uses the concept of small notecards, OneNote is good for long 'letter' size pages notes.


Using OneNote, NoteDex and XMind together is a powerful trifecta for a highly creative process!

Learn more about OneNote

Creative Thinking

Creativity involves channeling thoughts into ideas that can be used. So lets discuss more what we mean by thoughts and ideas and tools and methods that help these two areas:

Thoughts

I think, therefore I am. This simple statement is one of the most famous philosophical ideas in history. It was first proposed by Rene Descartes, a French thinker who lived in the 1600s. The idea is that our thoughts are what make us who we are. Our thoughts define our reality. Without them, we would not exist. This is why thinking is such an important activity. It is what makes us human. Your thoughts are the basis for your creativity and there are many techniques to help you. Thinking involves allowing the mind to connect and reason data and other information into a single piece of understanding - a thought. Coming up with original thought is the goal - and happens when people use their imagination. Let's discuss a few:

Thinking Outside the Box

To think outside the box is to think creatively, to come up with new ideas, and to find new ways of doing things. It is about thinking outside the conventional wisdom and finding new and innovative solutions. It is about taking risks and thinking differently. It is about pushing boundaries and thinking outside the box.

What is Lateral Thinking?

Lateral thinking is a way of thinking that is used to solve problems by looking at them from a different perspective. It is often used to find new solutions to old problems. Lateral thinking is about thinking outside the box and seeing things in a new light. It is about finding new ways to do things and coming up with creative solutions. This is also known as divergent thinking.

What is Design Thinking?

Design thinking is a method of problem solving that emphasizes creative and out-of-the-box thinking in order to come up with innovative solutions. It is often used in fields such as product design and architecture, but can be applied to any situation where creative problem solving is needed. The basic steps of design thinking are: 1) empathize with the user or customer, 2) define the problem, 3) ideate or generate ideas for solutions, 4) prototype the best solution, and 5) test it with users.

What is Critical Thinking?

Critical thinking is the ability to analyze information and make reasoned judgments. It involves looking at information from multiple perspectives and making well-founded decisions. Critical thinkers are able to question assumptions, think creatively, and solve problems effectively.

Ideas

To help generate more ideas there are also some processes such as:

Brainstorming

Brainstorming is a technique that is used to generate new ideas or solutions to problems. It involves a group of people coming together and generating ideas through discussion and collaboration. Brainstorming can be helpful in coming up with new ideas because it allows for a free flow of thoughts and ideas. Additionally, brainstorming can help to stimulate new ways of thinking and can provide a variety of perspectives on an issue. Brainstorming allows greater creativity since it often involves a team of people, and it's where we often make connection between seemingly unrelated comments or suggestions. Remember 'don't judge' as the basis for the start of the session!

TRIZ

TRIZ is a problem-solving method that was developed in Russia. It is based on the principle of understanding how people have solved similar problems in the past, and then applying those methods to current problems. TRIZ can be used to generate new ideas, or to improve existing ideas.

Six Thinking Hats

Six Thinking Hats is a tool that helps people generate ideas by looking at a problem from six different perspectives. The six perspectives are: positive, negative, creative, analytical, practical, and emotional. By looking at a problem from all six perspectives, people can generate a wide range of possible solutions. Six Thinking Hats can also help people to better understand the viewpoints of others, and to reach consensus more easily.

The Importance of Hand-Brain Connection for Creativity

There is another important but often overlooked tool that can help your creativity. Do you know how you feel more creative when you are standing up and using a whiteboard? This is well documented in research and it indicates that the mind-body connection for creativity is more important than you may first realize.

It's one of the reasons why people use pen and paper, the long lasting affection for notebooks, the use of paper index cards, the popularity of having a whiteboard in offices. The act of using the hand to draw with a pen helps the mind to access more of the right-brain thinking and this assists in the creative process. It's why tools like NoteDex that support digital pen inking are so valuable for helping you to capture your thoughts.


As we think about how the cortex works and how people can improve using imagination by using all their body 'tools' like their hands - not just the brain - then we will see creativity levels and thinking skills improve. We speak about the left-right brain in this article 'Use Both Sides of Your Brain!'

Conclusion

Creativity is a skill that can be improved and we hope we have convinced you that anyone can be creative. As we promised you at the start of this article, there are many tools and techniques to help someone develop creativity, regardless of their personality trait. You just need to be open to new methods and try! Many creative geniuses like Picasso, a model of creativity, were able to channel their creativity abilities, and creative people tend to be willing to express themselves in a variety of ways. So get that whiteboard and become a creative artist - even if you are outlining project plans!

We hope that this article helps you to realize that the idea of creativity is something that can be learned, and with a supportive environment a skill that can be developed even for improving team creativity leading to innovative thinking and more success. It's also important to be open minded and try new ideas on for size, and if you prone to a daydream or two, lean into that since that is part of the creativity and mental process of innovation. Your brain is working in weird ways when you dream - how often have you gone to sleep with a problem and suddenly woken up with the answer! Just be open to new experiences and good luck in your creative endeavors!


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