Creative problem-solving requires us to use many different kinds of thought processes. It is not just about brainstorming and generating ideas. Creative outcomes are the result of a combination and integration of different kinds of thinking – generating ideas, exploring and evaluating them and also knowing when to switch directions to keep progress on track.

John Cleese, comedian, writer, actor and creative thinker extraordinaire, puts it this way.

We all operate in two contrasting modes, which might be called open and closed. The open mode is more relaxed, more receptive, more exploratory, more democratic, more playful and more humorous. The closed mode is the tighter, more rigid, more hierarchical, more tunnel-visioned. Most people, unfortunately spend most of their time in the closed mode. Not that the closed mode cannot be helpful. It is. But it is in the open mode that we are the most aware, most receptive, most creative, and therefore at our most intelligent.”

During creative problem-solving our thinking cycles or loops among different kinds of thought processes incorporating progressive outcomes and new information in order to gradually build up a solution.

The key point is that creative thinking is not just about the process of coming up with new ideas as is often thought. That is only part of the story. It is also about applying the rigor of exploring emergent features of a developing solution that are worthy of exploitation, identifying them, extracting them, synthesising them and manipulating them further.

Similarly, creative problem-solving would be severely frustrated, resulting in inferior solutions if we didn’t apply good evaluative processes to the emerging solution. At some point, the value or usefulness of new ideas must be determined. This is where critical and analytical thinking skills are essential. So is the ability to think strategically about the project which requires us to reflect on progress, monitor direction and make decisions about whether or not to change direction.

Creative solutions are the result of an integration of a DIVERSE range of thought processes. This kind of cognitive activity can feel like really HARD WORK because it is higher order thinking.

By its very nature creative thinking requires us to forge new mental pathways. Such a process is often discomforting and difficult and messy and frustrating. It takes us into unchartered territory. When we are busy and stressed – that’s the last place we want to go. Much easier to rely on established patterns of thought and tried and true ways of doing things that we know will work. The result? Same ol’ same ol’. Default thinking. Boring ideas.

The really good news is that even though creative thinking can feel hard or difficult if we make an effort to think differently and nurture our cognitive diversity – we will succeed. A study at Harvard University[1] found that people who were identified as being innovative, spent 50% more time deliberately trying to think differently. In other words, they succeeded in being more creative because they put in the effort to develop their cognitive diversity. That blows out of the water any notions that only people with a certain kind of talent can be creative.

If you would like to learn a proven methodology for nurturing your cognitive diversity, come along to my Thinking Beyond Boundaries half day workshop on the 12th of November to learn how to:

  • Be a flexible thinker and better problem-solver;
  • See things from fresh perspectives;
  • Break out of mental ruts and business-as-usual thinking by using a ground-breaking new method;
  • Capitalise on your valuable cognitive resources by understanding your personal creative problem-solving preferences; and
  • Utilise the creative process on a day-to-day basis at work for better outcomes.

See you there.


[1] https://hbr.org/2011/09/begin-to-think-differently

Dr. Irena Yashin-Shaw


E: irena@direnayashinshaw.com

M: +61 411 330 301

P: +61 7 3849 5003

Make a time to chat with Irena




Tuesday, 12 NOVEMBER 2019



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I’m EXTREMELY excited to share that following on from the success of our sold out event in March 2019, we are hosting the 2nd Australian Intrapreneurs Summit in Brisbane, 2020.


“Enabling Intrapreneurialism through Technology & Diversity”

Check out the website and have a look at our fantastic lineup of speakers and panelists here.


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Suzan Briganti

Founder, CEO & Head of Product

Swarm Vision Inc.




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My book “INTRAPRENEUR” is available to order online.

“Dr. Irena Yashin-Shaw has cleverly captured the future of leadership in this ground-breaking book. She shows how creative and enterprising individuals – INTRAPRENEURS – are transforming their organisations from the inside out. A must read for leaders aspiring to unleash their inner entrepreneur to change the world.

– Allan Pease. Chairman of Pease International and author of 18 top ten bestsellers.

Order Intrapreneur

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