How to spark innovative thinking

Everyone has the ability to become a better thinker. It is not a trait you’re born with, rather something you can hone over time. Sometimes, all you need is a little nudge to start thinking in new ways, says executive coach and workshop facilitator, Natalie Currie. Here are her straightforward strategies to help you tap into your inner innovator, regardless of your age or stage of life.

If you’re an entrepreneur…

Arrange regular meet-ups with peers from different fields—the more diverse the better—and bounce ideas off of one another. “You can stress-test each other’s business plans and products or services to make them better.”

If you’re a team player…

Get moving! Your brain relaxes and becomes more creative when you’re walking, driving, working out—basically doing anything other than staring at a screen looking for a solution. A change of scenery, even a new coffee shop, can also give you a fresh perspective.

If you’re a leader…

Rather than brainstorming aloud, where ideas are shared one at a time, ask your staff to write their thoughts on Post-Its, then arrange them on a board where everyone can review. Currie calls this “brain writing.” It takes the pressure off those who are nervous to share and prevents a phenomenon called group think—where consensus forms around one idea, potentially shutting down others.