- Olga Zbarskaya, Ph.D
Unique ideas are not always immediately valued. One’s organization of thoughts along with reasoning, clarification, and objective evaluation can all help in determining the value of the final products of ideational fluency. This type of fluency within one category is not essential for creative thinking on whole, as creative thinking involves free associations among different categories. Alternative expressions of the same notion through a different categorical entity may enrich and even modify the expected outcome. Converting information into a new structure or explaining a problem in terms of a different conceptual category can open the way to more responses and solutions. The process of shifting from one idea to another, as in ideational fluency, is analogous to a very simply mathematical equation: Cause 1 + Cause 2 = Effect 1. The combination to two different ideas (causes) amalgamates into a new idea (effect).
Via fluency, dogmas can be adjusted and improved as they are tested in a different area and reexamined. An old idea may be expended or at least rebranded after probation in a different structure. Our explanatory capacity grows as we are able to apply the standard qualities and terminology of one domain to another—explaining music through mathematics, science through art, and so on. Associations between noticeably different categories result in approaches that are more original and a greater number of responses.
Originality applies to being fresh and independent of preconsumed dogmas, and to having imagination, independent thought, and the ability to combine thoughts. While originality is generally thought of as an occurrence or as a process—of prompting new ideas—it can also be defined as interpretation or combination. Original ideas do not necessary have to be useful; they must, however, defer from existing concepts.
We’ve all experienced moments when an exciting idea starts to flourish, but our inner critic discourages us from pursuing it by saying the idea won’t work or isn’t worth the effort. A key component of the creative problem-solving process is the postponement of preliminary judgement. The initial signs and symptoms of new idea are usually elusive. During the stages of idea formation and the generation of possible solutions, positive and negative judgment should be avoided. Since quantity of ideas is able to raise their quality, enabling multiple combinations and evaluations, no options should be restricted or postponed. The oddest combinations between meaningless choices may lead to the most unusual and valuable ideas. Going beyond typical reflection and suspending the verdict will allow more flexible association and combinations among them.
Observation of and reflection upon the actual processes involved in creative thinking can help avoid one avoid closure before all the possibilities have been explored and understood. Thinking from different points of view, being spontaneous, tolerating ambiguity, and making unexpected connections will most likely result in a novel format of thinking. Experimenting, reflecting upon contradictions, and determining the relevance of certain ideas leads to a feeling of discovery and increases the likelihood of novel decisions. Original thoughts are highly valuable as long as they can transform into valuable inventions. The ability to think of fresh ideas, fall in love with those same ideas, and make meaningful patterns of original ideas require decreased premature filtering along with increased recognition of the creative process.
Premature closure is not the solution. When original ideas travel from the point of inception to the point of implementation, they are filtering through the logical reasoning and judgment. At this point, it’s important to use “indulgent” critique so as not to suppress valuable points, which may not be fully developed yet. Since this process may involve ambiguity and metaphorical paradoxes, it’s essential to go above and beyond the right choice and consider approximate exacts. It is also important to be able to bend the rules, take risks, and expend boundaries without jumping to conclusions.
Flexibility provides various possibilities and wide ranges of conflicting ideas. It helps when it comes to dealing with stressful situations and failures, bending clichés, and changing the rules. Greater freedom among choices strengthens several important categories, including self-regulation, independent thinking, and self-empowerment. It additionally promotes open dialogues and a constant search for alternatives. Easily shifting in thought to a contradicting direction, or flipping to an opposing argument, results in a stronger reasoning. Having a flexible approach to the different angles of a given matter assists one in creating a holistic perspective and deeper understanding of the phenomenon. Adopting new ways of thinking is assisted by a creative and logical analysis of multiple possibilities. An easy adjustment to a new structure welcomes new ideas and increases engagement. Stepping out of one’s comfort zone may result in not only the improved acquisition of information but also practice in pushing boundaries and extending behavioral space and performance. A playful approach to reorganizing ideas minimizes stress and negativity. Engaging in flexible decision making can preclude the restrictions and prejudgment that tend to block great ideas from developing. Flexibility doesn’t mean chaos. It requires planning and organization to experience the meaningful shift of perspectives, along with reflection on the best solutions.
Elaboration identifies a process of amplifying an original idea from basic to more advanced. Adding more definitive characteristics and details increases the likelihood of successfully generating ideas. To improve the mind’s elaborative capacity, one should practice offering as many characteristics of the subject or condition as possible. An original idea can be expanded by adding multiple details, perfecting its associations by dwelling on its complexity and looking for multiple connections, and by identifying more details yet and surrounding conditions. Amplifying once-simple thoughts via scrutiny of one’s inferences and the addition of new points-of-view to existing ones, people create stronger attitude and self-confidence. A variety of cues and processed thoughts may result in a greater assertiveness pertaining to the problem. Given that opinion formation and conscious judgment arise from the thoughtful consideration of multiple details based on collected information and conceptual redefinition, elaboration plays an important role in improving cherished ideas.