Creativity techniques

Creativity is self-fulfilling prophecy [51].

Aim of the module

The main aim of the module is to introduce the creativity, proficiency levels of creativity and explain and describe 4 creativity techniques which are used along with the more common and spread creativity techniques such as brain writing and brain storming.

Learning outcomes of the module

After study of this module you will be able to:

  • Characterize and describe 4 proficiency levels of creativity
  • List 7 creative mind sets
  • Describe and explain 4 creativity techniques



The creative process is an ongoing exercise. Everything you do that is not habit is creative. Harnessing this creative power and directing it toward new ideas and solving problems is where most people need help. [52]

Creativity belongs to the strategic skills and according to [49] it is one in a set of complete functional and behavioral qualities that, when fully realized, can help lead to professional success.

Main objectives of a creative thinking process is to think beyond existing boundaries, to awake curiosity, to break away from rational, conventional ideas and formalised procedures, to rely on the imagination, the divergent, the random and to consider multiple solutions and alternatives [54].

The table 2.2.1 shows the Proficiency levels of creativity


Level 1: Basic Level 2: Intermediate Level 3: Advanced Level 4: Expert
Generates new ideas regarding his or her job Generates many new and unique ideas Develops innovative ideas and methods of doing things Consistently generates and employs original ideas for himself or herself and for others, tackling both simple and complex problems
Tries old solutions to problems, but will search for new methods when challenged Searches for new and more effective methods, making connections between previously unrelated ideas Pursues new methods and solutions, thinks outside the box, connects disparate ideas, is unafraid to use unorthodox methods Uses analysis and cross-pollination of information from one situation to another to solve problems
Is seen as creative and a contributor in brainstorming settings Is seen as original and value-added in brainstorming settings Is seen as a motivator and guide for others to generate new ideas in brainstorming sessions Is seen as bringing out the best in others in brainstorming sessions or one-on-one, leading them to discover new connections, new solutions, and new ways of doing their jobs

Table 2.2.1 Proficiency levels of creativity

According to Bryan W. Mattimore in [55] and [58] there are 7 creative mind sets:

  • Curiosity – without curiosity, the creative process never has the basic material it needs
  • Openness – and active and creative openness to others and their ideas
  • Embracing ambiguity – the capacity to entertain contradictory, ambiguous, and/or incomplete information
  • Finding and transferring principles – this mindset consists of 2 parts: mental habit of continually identifying the creative principles inherent in an idea and the 2nd part: adapting the identified principle or idea to another context to create a new idea.
  • Searching for integrity – the desire to discover and the belief that there is a connection that unites the seemingly disparate elements one is juggling in his creative mind into a single integrated whole.
  • Knowingness
  • World creating – the ability to imagine entirely new worlds, places, people, and things


The above described creative mind sets are available to all of us. In order to consciously train and develop your creativity can use as simple technique as asking questions for each of the respectively:

  • Why? How does it work?
  • What is the learning here?
  • What can resolve this apparent contradiction? Or, if both of these contradictions are correct, what ideas might they imply?
  • What is the principle in this thing that I can apply to the other thing?
  • What would make this a simple or beautiful solution?
  • What is my intuition telling me?
  • If I were to enter completely new world, what would I imagine that this world would look like……..?


Creativity techniques

Creativity is not an innate quality of only a few selected people. Creativity is present in everyone. It can be learned, practiced and developed by the use of proven techniques which, enhancing and stimulating the creative abilities, ideas and creative results, help people to move out of their normal problem-solving mode, to enable them to consider a wide range of alternatives and to improve productivity and quality of work. “Creativity is thus constructed as a learned ability that enables us to define new relationships between concepts or events, which seemed apparently unconnected before, and which results in a new entity of knowledge” (European Commission 1998). Knowledge and information are the basis for creativity. Main points to increase or encourage creativity in a school or  company are:

  • to be happy, to have fun
  • keep channels of communication open
  • trust, failure accepted
  • contacts with external sources of information
  • independence, initiatives taken
  • support participatory decision-making and employees’ contribution
  • experiment with new ideas

Below are given the creativity techniques chosen from among a numerous listed in many professional publications and used by trainers and managers. Provided that brainstorming and brain writing is widely known we have chosen some other techniques to broaden our view.

Story boarding

It is a creativity technique for strategic and scenario planning based on brainstorming and used mainly by groups. It requires a leader, a secretary and takes place in a group of 8-12 people. The leader arranges the ideas generated by brainstorming in a logical order on a white board creating a story. This technique allows identify the interconnections of ideas and how all the pieces fit together. It can be used to identify issues, problems, solve a complex problem and determine ways to implement solutions. The story boarding process includes four phases: a) planning, b) ideas, c) organization and d) communication. Each phase includes a creative session (it takes 45 minutes) and a critical session, in which participants critique their story board.

  • The planning phase begins with the problem definition or the issue being examined – the topic header. Purpose header, a miscellaneous column and other, normally 10 – 12, headers (column titles) are placed and brainstormed in order to give Ideas and then items, which are listed under the headers (the purpose header is listed first).
  • The second phase – the ideas board, is to take one column from the planning board, which becomes the topic header and the items of that column become headers of new ideas.
  • In the third phase – the organization board, participants identify who is responsible for implementing chosen solutions, what has to happen, and when.
  • In the last phase – the communication board, participants identify who must communicate with for all of the events identified in the organization board to take place. Through the process, visual graphics to summarise or present relevant points are presented by the leader. These might be strategic models, places or things [56].


Do nothing

Do Nothing is a technique described by Brian Clegg in his book Crash Course in Creativity.

According to [56] we can use this method in a situation when we make the assumption that something must be done about a particular issue/problem, but what happens if we “do nothing”? Stop and think for a while, either alone or as a group, about the outcomes if nothing were done.

This usually leads to one of three possible outcomes;

  • The problem doesn’t need to be solved
  • You will have a better idea is the benefits of solving the problem
  • You will have generated some alternative problems to solve


Lotus Blossom

According to [60] this technique can also be used in scenario planning and is very useful for forecasting strategic scenarios. It is designed for groups and is used to provide a more in-depth look at various solutions to problems. It begins with a central core idea surrounded by eight empty boxes or circles. Using brainstorming, eight additional ideas (solutions or issues) are written in these boxes. In the next step, each of these eight ideas becomes the core of another set of eight surrounding empty boxes, which are filled in by new ideas using brainstorming. The process continues until a satisfactory solution or a sufficient number of ideas have emerged as described e.g. in [56].


This creative technique is used mainly for product improvement or modification. It involves applying a series of words, verbs, adjectives or phrases contained in checklists or tables to an existing product or service or its attributes. Osborn’s Checklist is the best known and includes the verbs: put to other uses, adapt, modify, magnify, minify, substitute, rearrange, reverse and combine. Each verb contains also an expanded definition in the form of questions. For example, the description of the verb substitute is: Who else instead? What else instead? Other ingredient? Other material? Other process? Other power? Other place? Other approach? Other tone of voice? [53]. the method is to apply each of the verbs and its expanded description to a product or service. Osborn’s Checklist, also known as SCAMPER, which letters refer to the actions Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Magnify, Put to other use, Eliminate and Rearrange.

Computer-based creativity techniques

Computer-based supporting techniques to stimulate the human creative process have an immediate and pragmatic aim, which is the implementation of computational models (computer software) for generate and organize ideas for creative work. They are used more frequently in research planning, product design, knowledge acquisition, decision making, motivation, etc. We can distinguish groups of computerized creativity techniques, such as AI models, Idea Processors systems and visualization and graphical systems.


In this module we had a closer look at the creativity and its definition. We explained and described the 4 Proficiency levels of creativity, introduced 7 creative mind sets and the simple technique of asking questions for each of the named creative mind sets in order to be able to consciously train and develop our creativity. In the main part of the module we introduced 4 creativity techniques which are used along with the more common and spread creativity techniques such as brain writing and brain storming.