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Running head: What Is Creative Thinking?

What Is Creative Thinking?

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As the dominant species on the face of the planet, humanity possesses the ability to think

creatively. Although other animals and especially primates show a degree of cognitive ability

through such skills as problem solving and tool making, humanity is unique. It changes its

environment to accordance to its needs as an adaptation mechanism. The ability to shape and

influence one’s operating environments in a dynamic manner in accordance to ever-changing

needs and requirements constitutes creative thinking.(Ruggiero, V. R. 2015) Although the

species as a whole has the capacity for creative thinking, very few individuals embrace its

potential. the non-creative thinkers are either stuck in the status quo or unaware of the

possibilities and potential inherent in their ability to think creatively. This situation leads to the

emergence of leaders, a few individuals who are able to creatively shape their environment in

their favor, creating a sphere of influence that affects every being in that environment.( Adair, J, 2007).

John Adair, one of the foremost thinkers on matters of creativity and leadership illustrates

the traits that many leaders such as Henry ford, Jethru Tull, Sir Barnes Wallis, and others

possessed that made them outstanding figures in their field. First off, the leaders were able to

widen their scope of relevance by using ideas in a different context. Mostly, this process rose

from curiosity and the desire to see a specific objective actualized in a specific context. (Adair, J,

2007).Another common factor for many creative thinkers, especially scientists and inventors is

sheer hard work. Thomas Edison, who invented the light bulb captured this sentiment when he

said that “ genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration”( Adair, J, 2007).The willingness to

grind away at their job regardless of the outcome has actually led to some creative thinkers to

inadvertently stumble upon solutions to their questions on accident. For instance, sir Alexander

Fleming ‘discovered’ penicillin through an accidental contamination of some bacterial cultures

in his laboratory (Adair, J, 2007).


Creative thinkers have to be able to be able to conceptualize the possibilities inherent in a

given situation. This involves a fair amount of risk since it is not clear whether the possibilities

are real or not. Coupled with the ability to follow through on the possibilities with consistent

hard work, creativity is hard work. (Adair, J, 2007). A creative thinker makes a lot of risk and

sacrifice in pursuit of an outcome that may not be easy to achieve. This sets them apart from the

status quo thinkers who would rather not take risks, proffering the ‘safe’ comfort of the current

state of affairs. They would rather not think too hard and chose to utilize the least amount of

effort directed towards fitting in (Butterworth, J & Thwaites, G ,2013) Creative thinkers are

willing to ask questions whose scope leis outside their immediate experience. (Butterworth, J &

Thwaites, G ,2013.) Creative thinkers are innovators and imitators of change while non-creative

thinkers would rather do away with change and innovation in order to conserve the current state

of affairs.

I volunteer my time at a charity organization that supports vulnerable kids. A donor made

a surprise visit to the organization but unfortunately, the person in charge of marketing and

public relations was not around. The donor had to wait for fifteen minutes until someone in the

marketing unit showed up. By that time, the donor was getting very impatient. A creative thinker

from the organization could have engaged the donor in small talk and maybe facilitated a guided

tour of the facilities. This would have kept the donor busy, reducing their sense of impatience

while buying time for the marketing personnel to show up. Under conventional thinking, only

designated marketing personnel should deal with clients. Creative thinking would have salvaged

the reputation of the organization by responding to the unexpected visit by the donor by enabling

a flexible approach to the situation.



Adair, J (2007). The art of creative thinking: how to develop your powers of innovation and

creativity. London and Philadelphia: Kogan page limited.

Butterworth, J & Thwaites, G (2013.) thinking skills: critical thinking and problem solving. (2nd

ed.) Cambridge: Cambridge university press.

Ruggiero, V. R. (2015). The art of thinking: A guide to critical and creative thought (11th ed.).

New York, NY:Longman.