Books, Innovation, Thinking

Critical Thinking vs Creative Thinking

Think Better: An Innovator's Guide to Productive Thinking

I just started reading “Think Better: An Innovator’s Guide to Productive Thinking” by Tim Hurson.

I just started Chapter 3 and have become amazed that I hadn’t thought about the difference between Critical Thinking and Creative Thinking….even though I’ve blogged about the subject in the past (see The Problem(s) with Linear Thinking, Critical Thinking Definitions, and my review of Jack’s Notebook).

In Chapter 3 of this book, the author does a great job explaining that these are completely different thinking processes.  The author provides the following definitions:

  • Creative Thinking – generative, nonjudgmental and expansive. When you are thinking creatively, you are generating lists of new ideas.
  • Critical Thinking – analytical, judgmental and selective. When you are thinking critically, you are making choices.

I hadn’t thought about the differences between these two types of thinking…in fact, I’ve even used them as interchangeable terms for the same thing!

The author argues that using both thinking processes together creates a much more productive thinking process.  An interesting analogy that he uses in the book is:

Think of the thinking process as a kayak with 2 paddles. One paddle represents creative thinking while the other represents critical thinking.  If you were to only use one paddle (i.e., creative thinking), you’d end up going in circles.  To make the kayak move forward, you’ve got to alternate between paddles.

So far this is an interesting book…I plan to review it in more detail later this month.

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About Eric D. Brown, D.Sc.

Eric D. Brown, D.Sc. is a data scientist, technology consultant and entrepreneur with an interest in using data and technology to solve problems. When not building cool things, Eric can be found outside with his camera(s) taking photographs of landscapes, nature and wildlife.
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Yohan Launay
15 years ago

Hi Eric,

Interesting topic Creative Thinking vs Critical Thinking.

That’s why you should always work in team. With my business partner, there is always one coming out with crazy ideas and the other one to criticize and bring it down to something realistic. We alternate depending on the projects we work on.

— Yohan

Eric D. Brown
15 years ago

Great idea Yohan…perfect reason to have a business partner. To be able to bounce ideas off someone is an ideal way to brainstorm.


[…] The last book from my ‘vacation reading list” is Think Better: An Innovator’s Guide to Productive Thinking by Tim Hurson. Some of you may remember a brief mention of this book in a post titled “Critical Thinking vs Creative Thinking“. […]

13 years ago
13 years ago

Short #book #review
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ThinkBetter, by Tim Hurson
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12 years ago

With VINCI you can teach your kids both Critical and Creative thinking. You don't need to choose! #VINCITab #ece

12 years ago

"Creative thinking = generating new ideas. Critical thinking = making choices." [Reference — #ctchat


[…] written about critical thinking before. I believe its a skill that we all need to continually practice and apply to our lives and […]