Knowing how to think in any given situation – which type of thinking to employ – is a vital skill. The start point is understanding that there are many different ways to think; that how we think should be a matter of conscious choice.
So, if how to think is a choice, what are the key types of thinking skills? Here are some of the most commonly used categories. Rather than simply repeat dictionary definitions of thinking skills, we have included brief descriptions of how we see the terms being used in the real world of work:
Creative thinking – a general term for the ability to develop fresh perspectives and new ideas. There are many specific techniques available to aid the creative thinking process. Our most popular creativity course is called Creativity for Logical Thinkers – although in reality it is highly relevant for all thinking types who need to be more creative.
Lateral thinking – this is the term used popularised by Edward De Bono to describe a non-linear mode of thinking. De Bono’s Lateral Thinking courses remain an effective way to learn how to think in order to systematically generate new ideas.
Critical thinking – this term is used in many different ways. Perhaps most commonly it is used to denote thorough or exhaustive thinking. Our structured and critical thinking training course makes use of a number of models and templates as an aid to thorough thinking – ensuring all angles are covered.
Logical thinking – the process of progressing a thought process in a linear way. It is probably the dominant thinking process in western society – and many others too.
Parallel thinking – this is the process of avoiding group conflict by all adopting the same mode of thinking at the same time. The best known example of parallel thinking is De Bono’s Six Thinking Hats. Each metaphorical (or physical) hat represents a different type of thinking.
Structured thinking – another way of describing critical thinking; using templates and models to think exhaustively about something.
Positive thinking – although often referred to as an attitude rather than a distinct thinking process, the inclusion of techniques such as CBT – cognitive behavioural thinking – adds weight and structure to positive thinking training courses.
Strategic thinking – a widely used term and therefore one that is used in many different ways. Typically it is used to refer to the sort of thinking required by organisations to set direction rather than individual tactics to deliver results.
Divergent thinking – in the creative thinking process, divergent thinking refers to the thinking required to generate an unfiltered pool of ideas.
Convergent thinking – once ideas have been generated, they need to be assessed and developed into workable proposals. This process is often referred to as convergent thinking.
Associative thinking – the process of linking one thought or idea to another. Associative thinking can be used for creative thinking purposes and has a key role in most memory techniques.
Radiant thinking – this is a specific form of associative thinking where the thinking radiates out from a central idea. Tony Buzan’s Mind Mapping is a good example of radiant thinking. Mind Mapping training is available from Illumine as face to courses or through our online Mind Mapping course. Please click online courses in top menu.