Research shows that these four skills can lead to an increase in original ideas. Seventy-four city employees from Orange County, Calif., participated in creativity training seminars consisting of games and exercises developed by psychologist Robert Epstein, PhD, to strengthen the these four skill sets. Eight months later, the employees had increased their rate of new idea generation by 55 percent—which led to more than $600,000 in new business and a savings of about $3.5 million through innovative cost reductions. These four skills sets are:

  • Capture your new ideas. Keep a notebook, laptop or voice recorder handy to write down or record whenever a new idea comes to you.
  • Seek out challenging tasks. If a project doesn’t seem to have a ready-made solution, take it on.
  • Broaden your knowledge. Take an after-school class, read a book on a subject you aren’t familiar with, or watch a new documentary on the History Channel. This makes more diverse knowledge available for interconnection, which is the basis for all creative thought.
  • Surround yourself with interesting things and people. Eat lunch with someone new at lunch. Join an after-school club in a nearby town. Add out-of-the-ordinary objects to your room. Or keep your thoughts fresh by going to a museum or a concert or just go on vacation—anything that stimulates new thinking. These will all help you develop more original ideas.

Thinking creatively is something that anyone can get better at but you need to work at it. Make strengthening these four skill sets a habit and you will soon start to see yourself being able to come up with more creative ideas.

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