HOW much time do you set aside in a day or a week to do some creative thinking? Making time for this one important task is fundamental to the quality of your performance simply because your actions are based on the way you think.

For example, how do you find ways to improve your communication and relationships with people in your life or reset your own priorities?

The quality of your thinking is increasingly recognised as the most valued competitive advantage in harnessing creativity in the workplace. Unlocking your creativity by unleashing the vast amount of unrealised thinking potential within you does not have to be an arduous and impossible task if you have the right tool.

You can be empowered to think strategically by having a clear overview of the complex circumstances affecting your personal and work life, managing your workload, planning meetings and presentations and solving the toughest of personal and business dilemmas.

Today, Singapore and the world talk about how innovation is now considered a top priority for companies large and small, without which any organisation’s long-term prospects will eventually be at risk. The ability to generate ideas for improvement is thus more indispensible than ever before.

Tom Kelly, the author of The Art of Innovation, says: “Without creativity, a manager may do a good job, but he can’t do an outstanding one.” Leaders are obliged to constantly think of fresh new ideas to improve business products, services, designs, systems and processes in order to stay ahead of the game.

Idea machine

A mind map is like an idea machine that will create the momentum for you to generate tons of new alternatives, ideas and solutions in response to your issues, challenges, opportunities or problems.

This is because it encourages your thinking to flow freely, and that sparks off in all directions, generating options, possibilities and perspectives. This form of engagement of the mind allows the brain to search through multiple aspects of an issue through associative, radiant and divergent thinking. Renaissance man Leonardo da Vinci said: “Everything is connected to everything else.”

Based on this phenomenon, your brain is akin to an extraordinary, super-powered processor capable of boundless interconnected thoughts. If you know how to harness it, your personal thinking effectiveness and leadership and management skills will prove to be more effective, efficient, creative and, hence, fruitful.

An inspired leader will in turn inspire others to be more effective by helping them tap their creative potential to think of new ideas for improvement, overcome challenges and manage change.

After all, brainsmart leaders recognise that right-thinking workers are the primary asset of any organisation. Harnessing the creative and innovative ability of your workforce to boost productivity will help your organisation remain competitive in a global economy.


Mind maps

A mind map is a medium that allows you to generate, record and store your ideas on paper or on screen for reflection and evaluation later. Its effectiveness lies in its dynamic shape and form.

It radiates from the centre with its curved lines, symbols, words, colours and images, mimicking the organic structure of the human brain cell. Creating new ideas or building on existing ones is as easy as connecting another “branch” to either the central theme or the main branch.

It keeps you focused on your main goal while still allowing you to expand your thinking freely. Surprisingly, just by elaborating and expanding on one idea alone, you can give birth to new and unexpected ways of doing things.

It is easy to allow things to fall by the wayside when we fail to focus on the big picture at all times. To stay tuned to the big picture consciously and constantly, a mind map ensures that nothing falls through the cracks simply because information is presented all on one page.


Holistic thinking

A mind map allows you to think holistically because you can see the big picture of all your ideas and alternatives and can clearly and readily draw relationships among them. Just as all the branches in a mind map are connected, so are the ideas in relation to each other.

This gives a mind map the depth and breadth of scope that is less evident in listing your ideas linearly. Mind mapping can produce at least twice and up to five times as many creative ideas as traditional brainstorming.


Article by Betty Kan, a senior ThinkBuzan licensed instructor, an advanced i-MindMap instructor and a certified professional trainer.