I recorded a video for the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) based on my presentation at their conference on creative thinking skills and “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation.”

The video’s topic?

“How do I realistically find time to think more creatively or innovatively about my business when I don’t have time? I just have to get things done.”

The answer to the question is to change the nature of the conversations you are having when you are working on the business.

We all talk to team members and others throughout the day. A big part of improving your creative thinking does not necessarily mean setting aside time to have offsite meetings and generate ideas. If you consciously change your daily interactions with great creative thinking questions and statements that signal your interest in, appreciation of, and plans to act on creative ideas, your workplace (at least your piece of it), will starting being more creative.

Creative Thinking Skills Are All Talk

Well, maybe creative thinking skills aren’t ALL talk, but here are talking related ways to boost your creative thinking skills (along with your teammates)  through “no time at all” conversations.


“What are we trying to achieve?”

Whenever someone has already figured out the current idea he or she wants to do, asking this question takes you back to the main objective. With a restart on objectives, NOW you can start exploring alternative, innovative ways to achieve the intended objective.

“That’s a great idea. Have you thought about how we could do it ________?”

You get to fill in the blank on this creative thinking question. If you or someone else has a starting idea, acknowledge its value. Then introduce the possibility of stretching the idea even further with this question. Some of the possibilities for how you could do it differently include:

  • More Focused?
  • Narrower?
  • More Simply?
  • Through reusing something we already have?
  • In combination with something else?
  • In a broader way?
  • With greater diversity?
  • With greater variation?
  • To leapfrog what is out there already?
  • In a way that contradicts what everyone expects?
  • Through greater involvement of our customers?

You can keep going with other possibilities. Any of these or other words or phrases to fill in the blank in this creative thinking question will take you down innovative paths.

"What’s It Like?"

This warhorse of creative thinking questions invites you to identify analogies for your current situation. With them, you can then generate new ideas for your opportunity or challenge from a comparable, but very different perspective.

"Tell me more."

We have to make sure to include one statement to boost your creative thinking skills. This one shuts YOU down from starting to fill in the blanks on a new idea. It invites your teammate to describe and maybe even explore additional aspects of an idea they’ve imagined.

Boosting Creative Thinking Skills with Simple Words

If you can master just these modifications in your conversation, you are well on the way to greater creativity with no more time. Heck, you may even replace some pointless small talk with bona fide time to generate new ideas!


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