Four Methods of Creative Thinking Training.

In the past few years, the status of "design thinking" in the management field has been increasing. Different from the traditional strategic consultation, which emphasizes rigorous data logic analysis, design thinking emphasizes "human centric". Through human insight and intuitive judgment, we can further seek opportunities for breakthroughs. When design thinking is regarded as the key to the success of some leading enterprises, such as Apple, Alibaba, Aibiying, business leaders and managers are all eager for design thinking.

There are two pillars of design thinking in practice: one is deep insight method; the other is creative presentation method. At present, people have a lot of knowledge about insight methods, and the same important creative thinking (see the following guide methodology) will be constrained by experience and position, and sometimes they feel that they lack creativity. In the case of lack of creative thinking, design thinking can only stay in understanding and analyzing users, and can't transform user insight into a breakthrough solution.

Many people believe that creative thinking is a natural ability. Ken Robinson, a professor of education at the University of Warwick, once gave a performance entitled "school stifles creativity" at Ted conference: he thought that all people are born with amazing talent, but after excessive exam oriented education, it is more difficult to regain the original talent.

But creative thinking is not entirely innate. Just like our analytical thinking and empathic thinking, it can be rebooted and slowly cultivated through repeated training and borrowing thinking tools.


Combined with some authoritative suggestions and project experience in the field of creative thinking, we will share four thinking skills to improve creative thinking:

1)  Reverse - identify and reverse assumptions about the current state of the company or industry. This is the most direct and efficient way to generate innovative solutions;

2)  Combine - to associate independent or even opposing products or services. Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, once famously said that creativity is "just connecting things". Many innovative business strategies and business models are based on combination;

3)  Constraint - transform constraints and weaknesses into opportunities for innovation. A creative manager should not only understand the limitations of the enterprise organization, but also turn the limitations into advantages;

4)  Analogy & Metaphor - understand the nature of the problem and use cross industry cases to get solutions that are similar.

Reverse thinking

-Identify and overturn current assumptions and laws of the company or industry

To create a strategy based on reverse thinking, we must first identify and define all the existing implicit assumptions. When Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla, founded SpaceX, he overturned the main assumption that space rockets must be used for scientific research and have been exploring the use of rockets as personal space travel. In addition, when Tesla was launched, Musk also overturned the traditional 4S store model (dealers set up stores in the suburbs), set up small self operated stores in the downtown prime area, and reduced the scale of after-sales service, breaking the industry and users' awareness of automobile sales contacts and services. Alibaba has also broken the general recruitment principle of "hire first, then use", launched the recruitment strategy of "try first, then hire" for new employees, giving department heads and new generation more time to understand and understand each other, and solving the dilemma of department managers and employees' increasing turnover rate due to lack of understanding.

Thinking logic of reverse thinking

·Managers and internal stakeholders list inertia assumptions and rules across all companies or industries.

·Try to explain: why is this hypothesis and law wrong?

·Disrupt the above working mode and even make the opposite operation to break the inertia.

Combination thinking

-To associate independent or even opposing products or services

In the field of art and science, combinatorial thinking is a typical innovative method. In the business world, we can combine the independent things together to find a combination that crosses the traditional boundaries, and at the same time, we can use new technologies to combine the traditional industries to trigger the latest possibilities. Wechat has evolved from a social media platform to a mobile payment platform, and now the life service ecosystem is the best example.

Apple iPod worked with Nike in 2006 to synchronize shoes with iPod and track users' running behavior. After multiple iterations, apple watch now has fully integrated the Nike + run Club app. Now there are also insurance companies that provide more refined health insurance products and services for users by tracking the behavior data of users' mobile phones and smart watches combined with algorithms.

During the outbreak, the catering industry was hit hard. Combined with the "sharing economy" model, HEMA proposes to borrow the staff resources that cannot work due to the impact of the epidemic from the catering industry (see the figure below), which promotes the operation method of "sharing staff", so as to maximize the use of human resources of both parties.



-Turn limitations and weaknesses into opportunities for innovation

Many people have also experienced that "the deadline is the first productivity". In the same way, there are some circumstances where a wider range of constraints can lead to a new view (for example, when masks are out of stock on the market, everyone wants to do everything to make them), turning their weak points into innovation opportunities.

When using traditional strategic tools such as SWOT, pest and Porter's five forces model, strategists spend a lot of time looking for and analyzing the challenges and opportunities of the current industry and enterprises. The thinking method of restricting thinking is just the opposite: managers should face up to the weakness of enterprises and find out new opportunities through creation. In the movie "Penalty for Gold", it tells the story of turning constraints into Victories: in 2002, Oakland Sportsman of Major League of baseball ranked the third lowest in the league, team manager Billy bean broke the practice of general teams buying star players at a high price, and under the constraint of low budget, he used "baseball statistics" to select the player with the highest cost performance in the league Form a team. Under this bold and innovative strategy, the sportsmen team has entered the playoffs five times after 2000, won the division championship four times, and even set an unprecedented record of 20 consecutive wins in the 100 year history of the U.S. professional league.

After the outbreak stimulated the demand of distance education, many schools used nail as the live application of teaching, resulting in the evaluation of nail by students in the application market. Nailing made use of this bad review and released a video work named "nailing this nail, begging for mercy online" on the official account, which sought praise from the users who maliciously brushed the nail for one star, and also made a low-cost and high return promotion for the brand in a short time using the weakness at that time.

Analogy & metaphor

-Understand the nature of the problem and get solutions through cross industry cases

The most creative strategists can get inspiration from a variety of cross industry and cross field cases to design more forward-looking and breakthrough solutions. When they understand the nature of business problems, they will use analogy thinking (also known as analogy bypass) to solve the current business problems or product challenges by referring to cross industry and cross domain cases. Bionics is to use a lot of analogical thinking to solve different engineering problems by using the principles of biology and nature; some consulting companies use the principles of biology as a reference and try to solve the organizational structure of enterprises.

On the other hand, the use of metaphor thinking can also help managers visualize abstract management problems by comparison, and use cross industry examples to find solutions. The LEGO series play tool, which is very popular in recent years, is also used to help managers describe complex and abstract management problems (such as enterprise vision, team building, leadership training) through metaphor and try to find an exit.

Write at the end: keep childishness

Children are always the most creative group in the world. They have infinite curiosity, ask all kinds of questions every minute and every second, and provide endless ideas without any restrictions. In addition to being childlike to think about problems, you can chat with your kids tomorrow, tell them what problems you have and see what unexpected solutions they have.

Author: Anthony Zhu | Senior strategy manager from S.POINT

Anthony has long provided brand and user experience strategy suggestions for different enterprises, and has rich project experience in marketing, brand communication and user experience. For many years, we have been deeply engaged in the fields of automobile, FMCG and health care products. Our customers include Beijing Benz, Geely, Dongfeng Citroen, SAIC General Motors, Yili, Colgate, 3M, L'Oreal Group (luxury business line), Mars, Pfizer, Nestle, Bayer, Qianlin, etc. Before joining guide innovation, he was responsible for strategy and user insight in international advertising companies.

As a comprehensive strategist, he applies various "people-oriented" strategic tools to brand and experience strategies, and is committed to solving different types of business problems in an innovative way. In addition to traditional consumer research, he is committed to developing innovative user research methods, such as LEGO series play as a tool for user research and business strategy.

Anthony graduated from Department of human resource management, Hong Kong Baptist University, master of marketing and creativity, European higher business school and Antai business school, Shanghai Jiaotong University.

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