Customer - Top Tips - Creative thinking

Creative thinking



This document is designed as a quick reference guide to creative thinking.

This will enable you to gain knowledge of a particular skill, task or process.

This means you can quickly find the key information that you need and refer to it on an ongoing basis whenever you need to refresh your knowledge.



Why should we all try to think creatively? Like many other companies, American Golf has a set of processes and procedures for carrying out most tasks, whether these concern stock, premises, people, money, or whatever. However, in a saturated or near saturated market, creative thinking is likely to help us make a point of real difference from our competitors.


This creativity might be merchandising that appears more compelling than usual, or a team who are more motivated than usual, due to everyone having the opportunity to exercise their creativity.



 Customer - Top Tips - Creative thinking

What you need to know

Creative and analytical thinking

In many ways creative thinking is the opposite of analytical thinking, although both have their uses and both should be used at the appropriate time. Some of the differences look like:


Creative Thinking

Analytical Thinking

Looks sideways and all around for ideas


Looks straight ahead for the next step


Looks for new and different ideas

Looks for what is right and logical


Welcomes random ideas

Concentrates on relevance


May be uncomfortable

Is within comfort zone


Thinks in jumps, may challenge previous steps


Thinks one logical step at a time


Generates many ideas to select from

Generates only the one obvious idea


Explores unlikely answers to see if they can be used or adapted


Concentrates on the most likely answer




Some barriers to creative thinking


In order to think creatively, it is helpful to recognise the barriers that can stop us from thinking in this way.


     We tend to have pre-conceived ideas of what is right or will work

     We’ve ‘always done it that way’, not wanting to challenge

     We don’t want to be ridiculed for being different or to look silly

     We fear risk-taking or failure

     We don’t generate enough ideas, preferring to stick to the obvious

     We make assumptions which restrict our thinking

     We tend to use a ‘house style’ rather than looking outside

     We think ‘why can’t it work?’ rather than ‘how can I make it work?’

     Analytical thinking is easier or more acceptable

     The assumption that there can only be one right answer

     Rigid functional boundaries

     Evaluating too quickly


In order be great creative thinkers we need to break through these barriers and there are a number of ways we can encourage our minds to think more creatively…


Customer - Top Tips - Creative thinking

What you need to know

Simple exercises to help creative thinking


You can do this in the otherwise ‘dead’ times of the day such as when commuting. Think of a normal household object and try to think of a hundred different uses for it. At first you will struggle to get more than twenty or so, but when you repeat the exercise you will gradually come up with more and more ideas. Don’t worry about how feasible the ideas may be, quantity is more important than quality at this point.

A variation on this is to play word-association games by you or with a partner, trying to find a link between two unconnected words.

Doing activities such as these will help you to exercise and ‘tap’ into the creative part of your brain and help you generate more new ideas.


Some tips for creative thinking

Firstly, work consciously to eliminate the barriers identified above. When you have done this, try some of the following ideas:


     Challenge the boundaries and constraints of your current thinking patterns – ‘think outside the box’.


     Start with a blank sheet of paper – literally


     Start with the end (where you want to be) in mind and work backwards to where you are now


     List as many possibilities as you can and allow them to develop before you start to evaluate or discard them


     Look at the problem or situation in alternative or irrelevant ways – you may find some useable ideas out there!


     Don’t just concentrate on new ideas, see if you can adapt some existing ideas that have been shelved or cast aside at the time


     Tackle the issue when you are at your freshest, or let your subconscious work on it while you are asleep.


     Ask yourself ‘What if…’


     Use your past experience in other companies or organisations – what worked there may not translate exactly, but could be adapted to suit.


     Always be on the lookout for good ideas, even if you are not trying to solve a problem. You may find that a phrase or object will set an idea in motion, which will answer a problem you didn’t know you had.


     Try thinking differently – for example instead of describing a task to a colleague, draw the result you want. This can help you to see things differently yourself.


     Make sure you have all the information before you start


     Use the power of other people


     Look how others do it – visit competitors or totally different outlets to see if they have ideas you could use or adapt


     Get other people’s perspective on the problem, especially if the bring thinking from outside the organisation


     Challenge your team – ask them to come up with different ways of working. They may have many good ideas, just waiting to be asked!


Try brainstorming with your team, and go for a quantity of ideas before evaluating them.