Five Ways to Inspire Innovative Thinking

By the time most of us graduated from high school, we took an average of 3,952 quizzes, tests and exams. From a very early age, we learned there is only one right answer and several wrong answers.

It’s no wonder we can freeze in the face of obstacles that limit our innovative thinking. To fight this, here are a few of my favorite innovative thinking strategies to help move from feeling stuck to getting things done.

  • Go Exploring: Use questions like “What if?” or “What else?” to explore the possibilities.
  • Compare: An innovative snack product–Pringles Potato Chips–was created as a way to solve a packaging issue: broken potato chips. Folks in the food lab took a risk by comparing potato chips to leaves on a tree. When a leaf is dry, it crumbles. When it is moist, it is bendable. Pringle developed a process for shaping and packaging their potato chips while they were still moist to eliminate breakage and to provide a fun, tasty alternative for snacking.
  • Change the View: Look at a situation from different perspectives and viewpoints and make note of what you see. Solicit input from others. What do they see?
  • Combine: Bring different ideas and concepts together in a unique way. Nike’s first running shoe was inspired over breakfast by combining the rubber sole of a track shoe with the grooves of a waffle iron.
  • Change Your Setting: Your conscious mind is only able to process one idea at a time. However, your subconscious can focus on several at a time. Feeling stuck? Take a walk. Exercise. Talk to someone. Go out for coffee. Then, see what ideas start to flow.

The next time you hit an obstacle, consider all the possible ways to respond. Worry less about getting it right or wrong, and consider what you might learn in the process instead. You will be surprised.

About the Author: Kelli Schulte likes to say she has the best job on the planet. She is an Emotional Intelligence Coach who helps clients learn how to navigate stress so they reach their goals, achieve balance and enjoy all that life has to offer. Kelli’s experience working as both a consultant with Fortune 100 organizations and coaching students and adults in church ministry makes her uniquely qualified. To learn more, go to