Last but not least, we come to the fun stuff. In this section, we take a look at how we can combine creative and critical thinking to come up with out of the box solutions to problems that work. By combining both critical and creative thinking, we can take advantage of the benefits of both while avoiding the downsides.
Let’s go back to the silly weight loss example to show how this can work in action. Again the idea is to lose a fair amount of weight. Cutting off a limb is obviously not an option, but we can take a look at some of the reasons that make this an attractive consideration. We lose a set amount of weight, and we lose it in a set amount of time. That may spark a thought about tracking weight loss in interesting increments (like losing the equivalent of 3 packs of butter, or the equivalent of your arm’s weight). It may also inspire us to set a date for which we want to have x number of pounds gone. It may even get us to think about and consider surgical alternatives like liposuction or stomach stapling. While those may not end up being the right solutions for you, it’s good to include them and think about those options. You never know where they may lead you.
Looking into weight loss surgery may have you considering alternatives like fasting. At the very least, it will serve as a motivator if you want to avoid surgery at all costs.
In this case, we started out with creative thinking and then moved into critical thinking. We got a complete picture, collected a lot of data, and then analyzed it logically to come up with the best solution. That’s a great way to approach this process.
Another option is to start with critical thinking, then switch to creative thoughts to come up with more alternatives and more data sources. Then go back to critical thinking to determine what will work in the end.
By combining these two ways of thinking, we can come up with new and innovative solutions that will work. At other times we may find that the old tried and true way of doing things is popular for a reason. It may end up being the best possible solution. We won’t know that though until we’ve thought about it critically and creatively, working through all possible alternative options.
That’s why combining aspects of both critical and creative thinking is such a powerful strategy. Give it a try the next time you face a complex problem. Since switching between thinking creatively and analytically can be a little tricky at first, it can be helpful to sit down and work on creative brainstorming first. Get out a notebook and spend some time thinking of as many ideas as you can and write them down. Walk away for a bit and then get to work on the critical thinking part of the process, collecting more data, organizing it, analyzing it, and finally coming up with a workable solution. Rinse and repeat as needed until you find something that works well for you.
The more you get in the habit of practicing those creative and critical thinking skills and combining them, the better you get at it. Before long the entire process will become an integral part of how you approach problem-solving.