Thursday, August 20, 2015

Three Keys to Innovative Thinking

by Marcus Conyers

Part Five in a Six-Part Series

In the first four parts of this series, we discussed the creativity crisis and the urgent need to cultivate the brain's creative potential as an integral part of developing innovating minds.

Sternberg (1985; Sternberg & Lubart, 1995) describes three key abilities that can be developed to increase creative thinking skills. In essence, these three abilities underpin what innovating minds do in terms of creative thinking and entrepreneurial doing:

Synthetic ability refers to generating novel, creative ideas. People with well-developed synthetic thinking are recognized as innovative because they make connections that others don’t recognize.

Analytic ability refers to critical thinking and problem-solving skills resulting from the identification and evaluation of possible solutions. Analytic thinking supports creativity by weeding out bad ideas and highlighting the most promising possibilities. Innovating minds rely on analysis to consider all angles of a creative idea and test it out.

Practical ability refers to translating ideas into reality. Innovators use practical ability to make an abstract concept concrete, to demonstrate its usefulness, and to identify the people most likely to benefit from its use.

In the final post of this six-part series, I will cover different "brain states" or ways of thinking that can be applied to enhance creative and innovative thinking. Some of these states may not come easily, but they can be cultivated over time.



Sternberg, R.J. (1985). Beyond IQ: A triarchic theory of intelligence. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University.
Sternberg, R.J., & Lubart, T.I. (1995). Defying the crowd: Cultivating creativity in a culture of conformity. New York: Free.

Note: This post draws from research that Marcus did for an article, “Innovating Minds—What Students Need for the Future,” for Information Age Education (IAE).

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