Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, and simply the abundance of easily accessible data means that the world is being put on a level playing field when it comes to analytical thinking.

We all have the same information and the same tools, so we need to develop skills beyond the analytical in order to compete. This is lateral and creative thinking.

It’s the creativity you use in understanding, interpreting, and acting upon the information you have that will set you apart. No matter the industry you are in you can approach your challenges in novel ways in order to find new, innovative solutions. We’re not the only ones who believe this - In The Future of Jobs report 2023, the World Economic Forum claimed that creative thinking is among the most needed skills in 2023.

But creativity has sadly been educated out of us, we continue to rely on outdated education systems that teach us to think in straight lines, preparing us for now outdated ways of working. An education system designed by industrialists who required docile, agreeable, non-creative workers.

This is why I (and my colleagues at Sense Worldwide) have spent the last 5 years developing the field of Creative Intelligence, and through thousands of collaborations with creative individuals we have identified similarities between the most creative among them. This is Creative Intelligence.

What is Creative Intelligence?

Creative Intelligence is the uniquely human ability to understand, interpret, and act with imagination. It is not a methodology; instead, it is a mindset. A way of approaching the world around you. At its core it is about seeing and thinking differently.

It’s novelty incarnate! Through our explorations we have uncovered five key principles that exemplify Creative Intelligence.

1. Expand Your Mind - is all about informing your point of view by exploring beyond your silos.
2. Challenge Your Default - is all about purposefully doing things differently.
3. Build Your Creative Confidence - is all about embracing the uncertainty of ambiguity and trusting your instincts.
4. Seek Out Diverse Perspectives - is all about understanding the power of cognitive diversity.
5. Adopt An Experimental Mindset - is all about experimentation, but doing so with purpose.

How do you develop your Creative Intelligence?

First of all, let’s dispel a myth…

“I am not creative”
- People who absolutely are creative

Nike famously said “If you have a body, you are an athlete”. I like to say if you have a brain you can be creative. Everyone has the capacity for creativity and every industry can benefit from it.

To develop your creativity you need to work on developing the 5 principles of Creative Intelligence:

Expand your mind

This is about encouraging you to recognise the value of analogous inspiration, pulling from fields and knowledge outside of your silos in order to better inform your own point of view.

The first step however, is to understand yourself and the biases you may have that will affect your ability to fully incorporate knowledge from external fields.

Look inwards and explore your own perspective first. Ask yourself: what assumptions have you made to get to this point? Use this knowledge to explore beyond your assumptions and gather the full picture.

Challenge Your Default

Do things differently. Approach your tasks from new angles. Use different processes and alternative workflows. When we use the same approaches every time we tackle a task, our minds make synaptic pathways that strengthen over time. When faced with new tasks we take the path of least resistance and approach them in familiar ways - this limits our ability to see them differently and we inevitably get similar results each time.

Breaking your routine is simple - just do something differently. Normally work at a desk? Try sitting at a bench.. It’s as simple as that!

Build Your Creative Confidence

Maybe you're starting something new? Trying a new technique? Exploring an unexplored topic? Whatever it is, it’s hard to be confident when faced with the uncertainty of ambiguity. But when we let this uncertainty get to us we can limit our ability to be creative. We hold ourselves back out of fear of failure.

To build your confidence the first thing to do is, unsurprisingly, start. When faced with a metaphorical blank page the hardest thing to do is start because we fear moving in the wrong direction. Dirtying the page is about jumping, getting something down, even if it’s wrong, so you can build on it.

Seek Out Diverse Perspectives

When you bring together ten similar people you get one very powerful point of view. If instead you bring together 10 cognitively diverse individuals who see things differently and think differently to each other, you gain a richer, more holistic point of view. This is what Seeking out Diverse Perspectives is all about: harnessing the power of cognitive diversity.

When you form a point of view, ask yourself who might provide a unique perspective. Don’t just go for the obvious, but pick the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, and rejectors too!

Adopt An Experimental Mindset

Experiment, but with purpose. We avoid processes when trying to be creative because it is the repetition of a process that stifles creativity, however in some instances a process is a mindset. Adopting an experimental mindset is about the highest level creative process - Test, Learn, Iterate.

To adopt an experimental mindset we recommend trying to stress test and break your ideas. Approach the most challenging aspect of an idea first. If you’re designing a flying car, focus on the wings before designing the wheels.

Most importantly, Creative Intelligence is about novelty, trying new things, and approaching tasks in new ways. As long as you stop and ask yourself ‘why am I doing this in this way?’ you’re already developing your Creative Intelligence.

This is a guest post by Freddie Gibbons, Creative Intelligence Coach and Senior Innovation Consultant at Sense Worldwide.

You can measure your Creative Intelligence with their science-backed CQ Test. Know thyself... get your free personalized profile via this link.
Cultivate your Creative Intelligence with Sense Worldwide's training course (with limited time discount of 50% using code 'innov8rs' ).