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Simple exercises to boost creative thinking skills


a1People often ask me about improving creative thinking skills. I suggest some simple stuff like the exercises that follow.

The newspaper test

Step 1
Write down as many different uses for a Newspaper. What all can you do with a newspaper? The more uses you can think of, the better.
Stretch and think beyond the standard uses for a newspaper.
Step 2
Think of all the situations in which you cannot use a Newspaper. List as many as you can.
Step 3
Forget about the newspaper. Do something enjoyable, fun, relaxing. Anything that makes you feel good. Happy.
Step 4
Look at the list of situations in which you said you cannot use a Newspaper.
Now, find interesting ways to use the Newspaper in those situations.

Steps 1 and 4 are interesting to observe.
Step 1: How many different uses for the newspaper could all of you think of? 10, 20, 30? The more inventive one is, the more uses one can think of.
Step 4: In how many situations did you find ways to use the paper?
This activity demonstrates your ability to challenge existing beliefs and find new ways of doing things.
You can try this test using any object. It could be a newspaper. A screwdriver. A pen. A handkerchief.
What if you try this with children?
What if you choose a different item every day?
What if you include some fun rewards to make this a fun game?

Think of ways out of a sticky situation at home
Turn everyday situations into opportunities for creative thinking.
For example, Mom finds that she has run out of sugar. The shops are closed for the day.
How can mom manage the next morning without sugar?
Interesting questions:
What can she use instead?
What else?
What would daddy do?
What would grandma think of?
What would Chotta Bheem (or any other favour cartoon character) do in this situation.
It does not matter whether the answers help the family members find solutions. The questions will stretch their minds to think of different possibilities.
Turn an everyday situation as an opportunity to help the kid try something new
I was working on a report and was using a mind map. My grandson Arhan wanted to know what it was. Instead of just explaining it, I encouraged him to create his mind map. (I helped him type, he created the content). Here is his mindmap on How to become Batman.

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Sridhar Ramanathan is the Founder of IDEASRS, where he is also a Strategic Innovation Coach. Sridhar’s mission in life is “to help those who want to do things better and differently”. His work involves conducting creative problem solving workshops for clients, and buidling competencies in creativity and innovation. He also blogs at www.ideasrs.com.


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