How to Use Creativity in Problem-Solving
Using creativity in problem-solving is a dynamic process that involves seeing challenges from unique perspectives, generating novel solutions, and redefining the status quo. It requires going beyond traditional methodologies and employing inventive thinking.
Table of Contents
Techniques such as brainstorming, lateral thinking, and mind mapping can help ignite your creative sparks. By cultivating a culture of creativity, you empower yourself and others to tackle issues innovatively, ensuring that the problem-solving process is effective but also exciting and rewarding.
Understanding the Role of Creativity in Problem-Solving
Creative problem-solving is an approach that combines imagination, innovation, and a broad sense of flexibility to find solutions to problems. It’s about shunning the traditional mindset that restricts our thoughts to only known and accepted techniques and methods. Instead, it encourages thinking outside the box, leveraging all cognitive resources, and pushing beyond the boundaries of standard methodologies to arrive at unique and often more effective solutions.
At the heart of creative problem-solving is the understanding that problems are often not what they initially appear to be. An issue may seem like a stumbling block. Still, with creative problem-solving, it can be transformed into an opportunity for innovation and growth. It’s about not accepting the immediate, apparent problem at face value but delving deeper into uncovering the root cause and addressing that, often leading to a more comprehensive and long-lasting solution.
Stages of Creative Problem-Solving
To appreciate what is creative problem-solving, it is crucial to recognize its critical stages. First is problem identification, which involves understanding the problem from different angles and perspectives. This stage lays the groundwork for the creative process by opening up many possibilities.
Next comes idea generation. This stage is the crux of the creative process, where traditional thinking is left behind, and innovative ideas can flourish. Techniques like brainstorming, free writing, and mind mapping are commonly used to spur creativity and encourage various possible solutions.
Finally, there’s the evaluation and implementation of the solution. This stage involves critically assessing the proposed solutions, selecting the best one, and implementing them. It’s important to remember that the solution’s effectiveness should be evaluated and adjustments made, if necessary, to ensure the problem is resolved.
In essence, creative problem-solving is a process that welcomes innovation, embraces change, and turns problems into opportunities for creative growth. It’s not about finding a solution but about using creativity to discover the best solution. The beauty of creative problem-solving is that honing this skill is possible and can be developed, ultimately leading to better decision-making and problem-solving abilities in all areas of life.
Harnessing Creativity: The First Step in Innovative Problem-Solving
Harnessing creativity is the cornerstone of innovative problem-solving. This involves challenging our usual thought patterns and opening ourselves to new ways of thinking. But how do we activate this creative engine within us? The answer lies in asking the right creative problem-solving questions.
Creative Problem-Solving Questions
Questions are the fuel that ignites the engine of creativity. They challenge our assumptions, expand our perspectives, and drive us to think outside the box. In problem-solving, creative questions can illuminate unseen possibilities and pathways toward innovative solutions.
The first step in harnessing creativity for problem-solving is understanding the problem in-depth. Questions such as “What is the core issue?” or “Why is this a problem?” can help identify the root cause rather than just dealing with symptoms. Understanding the problem at a granular level often reveals unique angles and opportunities for innovative solutions.
Once we deeply understand the problem, it’s time to generate ideas. Here, creative problem-solving questions are designed to push our thinking beyond usual boundaries. Questions like “What if the impossible were possible?” or “How would this problem be solved in a completely different context?” can spark unconventional ideas and unlock creative potential.
The next stage is about evaluating the solutions. Questions such as “What could be the potential impacts of this solution?” or “How can we improve this idea?” ensure we critically assess the proposed solutions from various angles. It’s vital to constructively challenge each idea’s viability, promoting further creativity and refinement.
Finally, we come to the implementation of the chosen solution. Questions like “What resources are needed to execute this solution?” and “What could be potential roadblocks, and how can we overcome them?” enable us to foresee any practical issues and address them proactively, thus ensuring a smooth execution of the solution.
Asking creative problem-solving questions can help unlock our inherent creative capabilities. By harnessing our creativity, we can drive innovative problem-solving and find solutions that are not just effective but also genuinely novel and groundbreaking. These questions are more than just tools; they are the catalysts that transform problems into opportunities for creative innovation.
The Connection between Creativity and Effective Problem-Solving
Creativity is an invaluable tool in the problem-solving process. It empowers us to develop unique solutions that resolve the issue and provide opportunities for growth and innovation. But how is creativity used in problem-solving? Let’s dive into the nuances of this connection.
At its core, problem-solving is about finding solutions to obstacles or challenges. Traditional problem-solving techniques often focus on logical reasoning and proven methodologies. However, these techniques may only sometimes be sufficient, especially when dealing with complex or unprecedented problems. This is where creativity steps in.
How is Creativity Used in Problem-Solving
Creativity in problem-solving starts with reframing the problem. It prompts us to see beyond the apparent and understand the problem from different perspectives. This is particularly helpful when dealing with intricate issues, as it helps identify underlying patterns and relationships that might not be immediately apparent.
Once the problem is reframed, the next step is idea generation. This is where the power of creativity truly shines. Creative thinking encourages us to break free from conventional thinking patterns and explore a broader spectrum of possibilities. Brainstorming, mind mapping, or even daydreaming can help stimulate creative thoughts and generate innovative ideas.
Creativity also plays a critical role in evaluating and selecting the best solution. It allows us to envision how each potential solution might play out, assess the risks and benefits, and choose the most effective and innovative option.
Finally, creativity is instrumental in the implementation of the solution. It encourages us to think on our feet, adapt to unexpected challenges, and continuously refine the solution until the problem is fully resolved.
Creativity fuels each stage of the problem-solving process, transforming it from a mundane task into an exciting journey of discovery and innovation. So, whether you’re dealing with a minor hiccup or a major hurdle, remember to tap into your creative side. You might be surprised at the great solutions that emerge.
Exploring Techniques for Fostering Creativity in Problem-Solving
In the dynamic and competitive business world, a creative approach to problem-solving can be a significant differentiator. Now businesses require innovative solutions to keep up with rapidly changing environments and customer expectations. Here, we’ll explore techniques for fostering creative problem-solving in business.
How to Use Creative Problem-Solving in Business
Firstly, it’s crucial to cultivate an environment that encourages creativity. An open-minded culture supporting risk-taking and diverse perspectives can significantly enhance creative thinking. This includes welcoming all ideas during brainstorming sessions, regardless of how unconventional they seem, and celebrating successes and learning opportunities from failures.
Secondly, divergent thinking is a powerful tool for creative problem-solving. It involves generating multiple possible solutions to a problem rather than following a linear, logical path. Techniques like brainstorming or lateral thinking can stimulate divergent thinking, leading to more innovative problem-solving.
Another technique uses creative problem-solving frameworks, like the SCAMPER model (Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Put to another use, Eliminate, Reverse). These frameworks provide structured methods for thinking creatively and can be particularly useful in a business setting.
Also, fostering creativity requires constant learning and development. Encouraging continuous learning, such as attending seminars, workshops, or online courses on creativity and innovation, can significantly enhance creative problem-solving skills. Also, exposure to different industries, cultures, and ways of thinking can provide new perspectives and ideas.
Creativity can also be enhanced by embracing technology. AI and machine learning, for example, can provide insights and patterns that would be hard to spot otherwise, opening new avenues for creative solutions.
Lastly, it’s essential to recognize the power of rest in fostering creativity. Downtime, hobbies, or simple walks in nature can rejuvenate the mind and often lead to ‘Eureka’ moments when least expected.
Fostering creative problem-solving in business is not a one-size-fits-all process. It requires a blend of culture, techniques, learning, technology, and well-being that suits your team’s unique needs and dynamics. However, the rewards – innovative solutions, competitive advantage, and team satisfaction – make it an investment worth making.
Case Studies: Successful Implementations of Creativity in Problem-Solving
Applying creativity in problem-solving has led to groundbreaking solutions in various fields. In this context, we will explore several instances of creative problem-solving that resulted in successful and innovative outcomes.
Examples of Creative Problem-Solving
Example 1: accommodation.
Firstly, let’s look at a classic example from the business world: Airbnb. In its early days, the company needed help to gain traction. The founders identified a key issue: the quality of listing photos could have been better, deterring potential renters. In a creative problem-solving move, they hired professional photographers to take pictures of the rentals. This innovative approach significantly improved the appeal of the listings, and the rest is history. Airbnb’s success illustrates how a creative solution can transform a problem into an opportunity.
Example 2: Motor Industry
Next, consider the example of the automobile industry’s Tesla Motors . Confronted with the problem of fossil fuel dependency and its environmental impact, Tesla disrupted the conventional solution of tweaking existing fuel technologies. Instead, they creatively focused on developing high-performance electric vehicles, changing the industry’s perception and leading towards sustainable transportation.
Example 3: Healthcare
Another example can be found in healthcare, particularly in the fight against polio. In the 1950s, the ‘iron lung’ was the primary treatment for polio-induced respiratory failure. It was a cumbersome and expensive solution. Dr. Bjørn Aage Ibsen , confronted with a polio outbreak, creatively proposed a new method: positive pressure ventilation. This involved manually ventilating the patient with a tube inserted into their trachea. This became the precursor to modern mechanical ventilation, demonstrating the impact of creative problem-solving in healthcare.
Example 4: Education Lastly, consider the example from education: the Khan Academy . Recognizing that traditional classroom education could not cater to each student’s pace and learning style, Salman Khan saw an opportunity to teach differently. He used technology creatively to provide free online educational videos, fundamentally transforming the access and delivery of education on a global scale.
In these cases, the key to successful problem-solving was applying creative thinking. These examples of creative problem-solving underscore the power of innovative thinking in transforming challenges into opportunities for growth and advancement. The ability to think creatively in problem-solving is a valuable skill and, in many cases, a game-changer.
Overcoming Obstacles: Dealing with Challenges in Creative Problem-Solving
While creative problem-solving offers incredible potential for innovative solutions, it’s not without its challenges. However, these obstacles can often be overcome with a structured approach, such as the creative problem-solving model (CPS).
Creative Problem-Solving Model
The CPS model, initially developed by Alex Osborn and Sidney Parnes, provides a clear framework for navigating challenges that can arise during creative problem-solving. This model consists of four main steps: Clarify, Ideate, Develop, and Implement.
The first step, ‘Clarify,’ involves identifying the problem accurately and comprehensively. It’s easy to rush into solving a problem based on initial perceptions, which often results in treating symptoms rather than addressing the underlying issue. The CPS model emphasizes the importance of dedicating time to deeply understand the problem before jumping to solutions.
The second step, ‘Ideate,’ is generating various possible solutions. It’s common to experience blocks during this stage, such as sticking to familiar ideas or fearing judgment for unconventional thoughts. This step encourages divergent thinking, pushing past the initial, most apparent ideas to reach more unique and creative solutions.
Next, the ‘Develop’ stage involves converging on the most promising ideas and fleshing them into actionable solutions. Sometimes, the most creative ideas can seem risky or unrealistic. This stage, however, reminds us that these ideas often hold the most potential for innovative solutions and should be explored and developed rather than dismissed.
Finally, ‘Implement’ is about turning the solution into reality. Implementation can face many obstacles, from resistance to change, lack of resources, or unforeseen challenges. But the CPS model treats these not as dead ends but as parts of the problem-solving journey to be creatively overcome.
The creative problem-solving model provides a powerful tool to deal with the challenges of creative thinking. It offers a structured approach that fosters creativity, keeps the problem-solving process on track, and ultimately leads to innovative and effective solutions.
Tools and Strategies for Enhancing Creativity in Problem-Solving
Creative problem-solving is a critical skill in today’s dynamic and complex world. It helps us navigate challenges with innovative and effective solutions. Various tools and strategies can enhance this process. Here, we delve into some of these creative problem-solving tools.
Creative Problem-Solving Tools
Brainstorming is the most familiar tool. It’s a freewheeling method to generate many ideas without immediate judgment or criticism. It invites and encourages wild and divergent thoughts, which are later sifted and refined. This tool is particularly effective in groups where diverse perspectives can spark unique ideas.
Mind Mapping, another powerful tool, visually represents thoughts and their interconnections. You can reveal unexpected connections by mapping the problem and related ideas and fostering innovative solutions. It’s an excellent tool for complex problems that involve multiple dimensions or for situations where a holistic view is needed.
The SCAMPER Method
The SCAMPER method (Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Put to another use, Eliminate, Reverse) prompts users to ask specific questions about the problem. Each word in the acronym poses a different way to manipulate and think about the problem, leading to fresh insights and solutions.
Six Thinking Hats Technique
Then there’s the Six Thinking Hats technique by Edward de Bono. This tool urges users to assume different ‘hats’ or roles (like the optimist, devil’s advocate, creative, etc.) during problem-solving. This strategy ensures a comprehensive approach, capturing different perspectives and reducing bias in decision-making.
Alongside these tools, specific strategies can cultivate creativity in problem-solving. Encouraging a culture of openness, where diverse thoughts are valued, can lead to more prosperous, more creative problem-solving. Creating a safe space where risks are welcomed is beneficial, and failures are seen as learning opportunities rather than setbacks.
Moreover, taking regular breaks and engaging in different activities can stimulate creativity. Often, stepping away from a problem allows our subconscious minds to work on it, leading to unexpected insights.
Regularly practicing and using these tools and strategies can dramatically improve creative problem-solving abilities. They stimulate innovative thinking and help structure the process, making it more effective and efficient. By leveraging these creative problem-solving tools, we can transform how we approach problems, turning challenges into opportunities for innovation.
The Future of Creativity in Problem-Solving: Trends and Predictions
As we navigate through a world that is becoming progressively more complex and unpredictable, the importance of creativity in problem-solving cannot be overstated. While still valuable, traditional problem-solving methods often must catch up when dealing with unprecedented challenges. Creativity injects flexibility, innovation, and adaptability into problem-solving, making it a vital skill for the future. Here, we explore some trends and predictions of creativity in problem-solving.
Growing Creative Problem-Solving
Firstly, we will likely see greater recognition of the role of creativity in problem-solving across various sectors. From businesses to education systems, there’s a growing understanding that generating and implementing innovative solutions to problems for survival and growth is crucial. We can see more emphasis on fostering creativity in leadership roles and at all levels.
Tech-Enhanced Creative Solutions
Secondly, technology will continue to play a significant role in enhancing creativity in problem-solving. Advanced technologies like AI and machine learning can provide us with more data and insights, enabling us to understand problems better and develop more creative solutions. At the same time, technology can facilitate the creative problem-solving process through tools that stimulate creative thinking and collaboration.
However, as we increasingly rely on technology, there’s also a danger that we might limit our creativity by depending too much on algorithms and predefined solutions. Therefore, balancing technology and human creativity will be essential to future problem-solving.
Additionally, we expect to see more integration of diverse perspectives in problem-solving. As we face global problems across various fields and cultures, it’s becoming clear that the most creative and effective solutions often come from interdisciplinary and diverse teams.
Dynamic Problem Adaptation
Finally, resilience and adaptability in problem-solving will be emphasized as we move toward a more uncertain future. Creative problem-solving will be less about finding the correct answer and more about continuous learning and adapting to evolving situations.
The future of creativity in problem-solving looks bright, promising, and exciting. By recognizing the importance of creativity and harnessing it effectively, we can equip ourselves to navigate future challenges with innovative and effective solutions.
What is the role of creativity in problem-solving?
Creativity in problem-solving allows for the generation of unique, practical solutions. It involves thinking outside the box, challenging traditional assumptions, and viewing the problem from various perspectives. Creativity is crucial in problem-solving as it fosters innovation and adaptability.
How can creativity be harnessed in problem-solving?
Creativity can be harnessed in problem-solving by promoting a culture that supports risk-taking and values diverse perspectives, employing techniques like divergent thinking and creative problem-solving frameworks, engaging in continuous learning and development, embracing technology, and prioritizing well-being and rest.
What is the connection between creativity and effective problem-solving?
Creativity contributes to effective problem-solving by enabling the generation of numerous possible solutions, encouraging novel perspectives, and fostering flexibility and adaptability. These aspects, in turn, lead to more comprehensive and innovative solutions.
What challenges might one encounter in creative problem-solving?
Challenges in creative problem-solving include rushing to solve the problem without fully understanding it, experiencing blocks during the ideation stage, dismissing seemingly unrealistic or risky ideas, and encountering resistance or unforeseen challenges during the implementation stage.
How might the future of creativity in problem-solving look like?
The future will likely see greater recognition of the role of creativity in problem-solving across various sectors. Technology will play a significant role in enhancing creativity, but maintaining a balance with human creativity will be necessary. Integrating diverse perspectives and emphasis on resilience and adaptability will also characterize future problem-solving.
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Why Problem-Solving Skills Are Essential for Leaders in Any Industry
- 17 Jan 2023
Any organization offering a product or service is in the business of solving problems.
Whether providing medical care to address health issues or quick convenience to those hungry for dinner, a business’s purpose is to satisfy customer needs .
In addition to solving customers’ problems, you’ll undoubtedly encounter challenges within your organization as it evolves to meet customer needs. You’re likely to experience growing pains in the form of missed targets, unattained goals, and team disagreements.
Yet, the ubiquity of problems doesn’t have to be discouraging; with the right frameworks and tools, you can build the skills to solve consumers' and your organization’s most challenging issues.
Here’s a primer on problem-solving in business, why it’s important, the skills you need, and how to build them.
Access your free e-book today.
What Is Problem-Solving in Business?
Problem-solving is the process of systematically removing barriers that prevent you or others from reaching goals.
Your business removes obstacles in customers’ lives through its products or services, just as you can remove obstacles that keep your team from achieving business goals.
Design thinking , as described by Harvard Business School Dean Srikant Datar in the online course Design Thinking and Innovation , is a human-centered , solutions-based approach to problem-solving and innovation. Originally created for product design, design thinking’s use case has evolved . It’s now used to solve internal business problems, too.
The design thinking process has four stages :
- Clarify: Clarify a problem through research and feedback from those impacted.
- Ideate: Armed with new insights, generate as many solutions as possible.
- Develop: Combine and cull your ideas into a short list of viable, feasible, and desirable options before building prototypes (if making physical products) and creating a plan of action (if solving an intangible problem).
- Implement: Execute the strongest idea, ensuring clear communication with all stakeholders about its potential value and deliberate reasoning.
Using this framework, you can generate innovative ideas that wouldn’t have surfaced otherwise.
Another, less structured approach to challenges is creative problem-solving , which employs a series of exercises to explore open-ended solutions and develop new perspectives. This is especially useful when a problem’s root cause has yet to be defined.
You can use creative problem-solving tools in design thinking’s “ideate” stage, which include:
- Brainstorming: Instruct everyone to develop as many ideas as possible in an allotted time frame without passing judgment.
- Divergent thinking exercises: Rather than arriving at the same conclusion (convergent thinking), instruct everyone to come up with a unique idea for a given prompt (divergent thinking). This type of exercise helps avoid the tendency to agree with others’ ideas without considering alternatives.
- Alternate worlds: Ask your team to consider how various personas would manage the problem. For instance, how would a pilot approach it? What about a young child? What about a seasoned engineer?
It can be tempting to fall back on how problems have been solved before, especially if they worked well. However, if you’re striving for innovation, relying on existing systems can stunt your company’s growth.
Related: How to Be a More Creative Problem-Solver at Work: 8 Tips
Why Is Problem-Solving Important for Leaders?
While obstacles’ specifics vary between industries, strong problem-solving skills are crucial for leaders in any field.
Whether building a new product or dealing with internal issues, you’re bound to come up against challenges. Having frameworks and tools at your disposal when they arise can turn issues into opportunities.
As a leader, it’s rarely your responsibility to solve a problem single-handedly, so it’s crucial to know how to empower employees to work together to find the best solution.
Your job is to guide them through each step of the framework and set the parameters and prompts within which they can be creative. Then, you can develop a list of ideas together, test the best ones, and implement the chosen solution.
Related: 5 Design Thinking Skills for Business Professionals
4 Problem-Solving Skills All Leaders Need
1. problem framing.
One key skill for any leader is framing problems in a way that makes sense for their organization. Problem framing is defined in Design Thinking and Innovation as determining the scope, context, and perspective of the problem you’re trying to solve.
“Before you begin to generate solutions for your problem, you must always think hard about how you’re going to frame that problem,” Datar says in the course.
For instance, imagine you work for a company that sells children’s sneakers, and sales have plummeted. When framing the problem, consider:
- What is the children’s sneaker market like right now?
- Should we improve the quality of our sneakers?
- Should we assess all children’s footwear?
- Is this a marketing issue for children’s sneakers specifically?
- Is this a bigger issue that impacts how we should market or produce all footwear?
While there’s no one right way to frame a problem, how you do can impact the solutions you generate. It’s imperative to accurately frame problems to align with organizational priorities and ensure your team generates useful ideas for your firm.
To solve a problem, you need to empathize with those impacted by it. Empathy is the ability to understand others’ emotions and experiences. While many believe empathy is a fixed trait, it’s a skill you can strengthen through practice.
When confronted with a problem, consider whom it impacts. Returning to the children’s sneaker example, think of who’s affected:
- Your organization’s employees, because sales are down
- The customers who typically buy your sneakers
- The children who typically wear your sneakers
Empathy is required to get to the problem’s root and consider each group’s perspective. Assuming someone’s perspective often isn’t accurate, so the best way to get that information is by collecting user feedback.
For instance, if you asked customers who typically buy your children’s sneakers why they’ve stopped, they could say, “A new brand of children’s sneakers came onto the market that have soles with more traction. I want my child to be as safe as possible, so I bought those instead.”
When someone shares their feelings and experiences, you have an opportunity to empathize with them. This can yield solutions to their problem that directly address its root and shows you care. In this case, you may design a new line of children’s sneakers with extremely grippy soles for added safety, knowing that’s what your customers care most about.
Related: 3 Effective Methods for Assessing Customer Needs
3. Breaking Cognitive Fixedness
Cognitive fixedness is a state of mind in which you examine situations through the lens of past experiences. This locks you into one mindset rather than allowing you to consider alternative possibilities.
For instance, your cognitive fixedness may make you think rubber is the only material for sneaker treads. What else could you use? Is there a grippier alternative you haven’t considered?
Problem-solving is all about overcoming cognitive fixedness. You not only need to foster this skill in yourself but among your team.
4. Creating a Psychologically Safe Environment
As a leader, it’s your job to create an environment conducive to problem-solving. In a psychologically safe environment, all team members feel comfortable bringing ideas to the table, which are likely influenced by their personal opinions and experiences.
If employees are penalized for “bad” ideas or chastised for questioning long-held procedures and systems, innovation has no place to take root.
By employing the design thinking framework and creative problem-solving exercises, you can foster a setting in which your team feels comfortable sharing ideas and new, innovative solutions can grow.
How to Build Problem-Solving Skills
The most obvious answer to how to build your problem-solving skills is perhaps the most intimidating: You must practice.
Again and again, you’ll encounter challenges, use creative problem-solving tools and design thinking frameworks, and assess results to learn what to do differently next time.
While most of your practice will occur within your organization, you can learn in a lower-stakes setting by taking an online course, such as Design Thinking and Innovation . Datar guides you through each tool and framework, presenting real-world business examples to help you envision how you would approach the same types of problems in your organization.
Are you interested in uncovering innovative solutions for your organization’s business problems? Explore Design Thinking and Innovation —one of our online entrepreneurship and innovation courses —to learn how to leverage proven frameworks and tools to solve challenges. Not sure which course is right for you? Download our free flowchart .
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Article • 10 min read
Creative Problem Solving
Finding innovative solutions to challenges.
By the Mind Tools Content Team
Imagine that you're vacuuming your house in a hurry because you've got friends coming over. Frustratingly, you're working hard but you're not getting very far. You kneel down, open up the vacuum cleaner, and pull out the bag. In a cloud of dust, you realize that it's full... again. Coughing, you empty it and wonder why vacuum cleaners with bags still exist!
James Dyson, inventor and founder of Dyson® vacuum cleaners, had exactly the same problem, and he used creative problem solving to find the answer. While many companies focused on developing a better vacuum cleaner filter, he realized that he had to think differently and find a more creative solution. So, he devised a revolutionary way to separate the dirt from the air, and invented the world's first bagless vacuum cleaner. 
Creative problem solving (CPS) is a way of solving problems or identifying opportunities when conventional thinking has failed. It encourages you to find fresh perspectives and come up with innovative solutions, so that you can formulate a plan to overcome obstacles and reach your goals.
In this article, we'll explore what CPS is, and we'll look at its key principles. We'll also provide a model that you can use to generate creative solutions.
About Creative Problem Solving
Alex Osborn, founder of the Creative Education Foundation, first developed creative problem solving in the 1940s, along with the term "brainstorming." And, together with Sid Parnes, he developed the Osborn-Parnes Creative Problem Solving Process. Despite its age, this model remains a valuable approach to problem solving. 
The early Osborn-Parnes model inspired a number of other tools. One of these is the 2011 CPS Learner's Model, also from the Creative Education Foundation, developed by Dr Gerard J. Puccio, Marie Mance, and co-workers. In this article, we'll use this modern four-step model to explore how you can use CPS to generate innovative, effective solutions.
Why Use Creative Problem Solving?
Dealing with obstacles and challenges is a regular part of working life, and overcoming them isn't always easy. To improve your products, services, communications, and interpersonal skills, and for you and your organization to excel, you need to encourage creative thinking and find innovative solutions that work.
CPS asks you to separate your "divergent" and "convergent" thinking as a way to do this. Divergent thinking is the process of generating lots of potential solutions and possibilities, otherwise known as brainstorming. And convergent thinking involves evaluating those options and choosing the most promising one. Often, we use a combination of the two to develop new ideas or solutions. However, using them simultaneously can result in unbalanced or biased decisions, and can stifle idea generation.
For more on divergent and convergent thinking, and for a useful diagram, see the book "Facilitator's Guide to Participatory Decision-Making." 
Core Principles of Creative Problem Solving
CPS has four core principles. Let's explore each one in more detail:
- Divergent and convergent thinking must be balanced. The key to creativity is learning how to identify and balance divergent and convergent thinking (done separately), and knowing when to practice each one.
- Ask problems as questions. When you rephrase problems and challenges as open-ended questions with multiple possibilities, it's easier to come up with solutions. Asking these types of questions generates lots of rich information, while asking closed questions tends to elicit short answers, such as confirmations or disagreements. Problem statements tend to generate limited responses, or none at all.
- Defer or suspend judgment. As Alex Osborn learned from his work on brainstorming, judging solutions early on tends to shut down idea generation. Instead, there's an appropriate and necessary time to judge ideas during the convergence stage.
- Focus on "Yes, and," rather than "No, but." Language matters when you're generating information and ideas. "Yes, and" encourages people to expand their thoughts, which is necessary during certain stages of CPS. Using the word "but" – preceded by "yes" or "no" – ends conversation, and often negates what's come before it.
How to Use the Tool
Let's explore how you can use each of the four steps of the CPS Learner's Model (shown in figure 1, below) to generate innovative ideas and solutions.
Figure 1 – CPS Learner's Model
Explore the Vision
Identify your goal, desire or challenge. This is a crucial first step because it's easy to assume, incorrectly, that you know what the problem is. However, you may have missed something or have failed to understand the issue fully, and defining your objective can provide clarity. Read our article, 5 Whys , for more on getting to the root of a problem quickly.
Once you've identified and understood the problem, you can collect information about it and develop a clear understanding of it. Make a note of details such as who and what is involved, all the relevant facts, and everyone's feelings and opinions.
When you've increased your awareness of the challenge or problem you've identified, ask questions that will generate solutions. Think about the obstacles you might face and the opportunities they could present.
Generate ideas that answer the challenge questions you identified in step 1. It can be tempting to consider solutions that you've tried before, as our minds tend to return to habitual thinking patterns that stop us from producing new ideas. However, this is a chance to use your creativity .
Brainstorming and Mind Maps are great ways to explore ideas during this divergent stage of CPS. And our articles, Encouraging Team Creativity , Problem Solving , Rolestorming , Hurson's Productive Thinking Model , and The Four-Step Innovation Process , can also help boost your creativity.
See our Brainstorming resources within our Creativity section for more on this.
This is the convergent stage of CPS, where you begin to focus on evaluating all of your possible options and come up with solutions. Analyze whether potential solutions meet your needs and criteria, and decide whether you can implement them successfully. Next, consider how you can strengthen them and determine which ones are the best "fit." Our articles, Critical Thinking and ORAPAPA , are useful here.
Formulate a plan.
Once you've chosen the best solution, it's time to develop a plan of action. Start by identifying resources and actions that will allow you to implement your chosen solution. Next, communicate your plan and make sure that everyone involved understands and accepts it.
There have been many adaptations of CPS since its inception, because nobody owns the idea.
For example, Scott Isaksen and Donald Treffinger formed The Creative Problem Solving Group Inc . and the Center for Creative Learning , and their model has evolved over many versions. Blair Miller, Jonathan Vehar and Roger L. Firestien also created their own version, and Dr Gerard J. Puccio, Mary C. Murdock, and Marie Mance developed CPS: The Thinking Skills Model.  Tim Hurson created The Productive Thinking Model , and Paul Reali developed CPS: Competencies Model. 
Sid Parnes continued to adapt the CPS model by adding concepts such as imagery and visualization , and he founded the Creative Studies Project to teach CPS. For more information on the evolution and development of the CPS process, see Creative Problem Solving Version 6.1 by Donald J. Treffinger, Scott G. Isaksen, and K. Brian Dorval. 
Creative Problem Solving (CPS) Infographic
See our infographic on Creative Problem Solving .
Creative problem solving (CPS) is a way of using your creativity to develop new ideas and solutions to problems. The process is based on separating divergent and convergent thinking styles, so that you can focus your mind on creating at the first stage, and then evaluating at the second stage.
There have been many adaptations of the original Osborn-Parnes model, but they all involve a clear structure of identifying the problem, generating new ideas, evaluating the options, and then formulating a plan for successful implementation.
 Entrepreneur (2012). James Dyson on Using Failure to Drive Success [online]. Available here . [Accessed May 27, 2022.]
 Creative Education Foundation (2015). The CPS Process [online]. Available here . [Accessed May 26, 2022.]
 Kaner, S. et al. (2014). 'Facilitator′s Guide to Participatory Decision–Making,' San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
 Puccio, G., Mance, M., and Murdock, M. (2011). 'Creative Leadership: Skils That Drive Change' (2nd Ed.), Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
 OmniSkills (2013). Creative Problem Solving [online]. Available here . [Accessed May 26, 2022].
 Treffinger, G., Isaksen, S., and Dorval, B. (2010). Creative Problem Solving (CPS Version 6.1). Center for Creative Learning, Inc. & Creative Problem Solving Group, Inc. Available here .
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Effective Problem-Solving Techniques in Business
January 20, 2023
Problem solving is an increasingly important soft skill for those in business. The Future of Jobs Survey by the World Economic Forum drives this point home. According to this report, complex problem solving is identified as one of the top 15 skills that will be sought by employers in 2025, along with other soft skills such as analytical thinking, creativity and leadership.
Dr. Amy David , clinical associate professor of management for supply chain and operations management, spoke about business problem-solving methods and how the Purdue University Online MBA program prepares students to be business decision-makers.
Why Are Problem-Solving Skills Essential in Leadership Roles?
Every business will face challenges at some point. Those that are successful will have people in place who can identify and solve problems before the damage is done.
“The business world is constantly changing, and companies need to be able to adapt well in order to produce good results and meet the needs of their customers,” David says. “They also need to keep in mind the triple bottom line of ‘people, profit and planet.’ And these priorities are constantly evolving.”
To that end, David says people in management or leadership need to be able to handle new situations, something that may be outside the scope of their everyday work.
“The name of the game these days is change—and the speed of change—and that means solving new problems on a daily basis,” she says.
The pace of information and technology has also empowered the customer in a new way that provides challenges—or opportunities—for businesses to respond.
“Our customers have a lot more information and a lot more power,” she says. “If you think about somebody having an unhappy experience and tweeting about it, that’s very different from maybe 15 years ago. Back then, if you had a bad experience with a product, you might grumble about it to one or two people.”
David says that this reality changes how quickly organizations need to react and respond to their customers. And taking prompt and decisive action requires solid problem-solving skills.
What Are Some of the Most Effective Problem-Solving Methods?
David says there are a few things to consider when encountering a challenge in business.
“When faced with a problem, are we talking about something that is broad and affects a lot of people? Or is it something that affects a select few? Depending on the issue and situation, you’ll need to use different types of problem-solving strategies,” she says.
There are a number of techniques that businesses use to problem solve. These can include:
- Five Whys : This approach is helpful when the problem at hand is clear but the underlying causes are less so. By asking “Why?” five times, the final answer should get at the potential root of the problem and perhaps yield a solution.
- Gap Analysis : Companies use gap analyses to compare current performance with expected or desired performance, which will help a company determine how to use its resources differently or adjust expectations.
- Gemba Walk : The name, which is derived from a Japanese word meaning “the real place,” refers to a commonly used technique that allows managers to see what works (and what doesn’t) from the ground up. This is an opportunity for managers to focus on the fundamental elements of the process, identify where the value stream is and determine areas that could use improvement.
- Porter’s Five Forces : Developed by Harvard Business School professor Michael E. Porter, applying the Five Forces is a way for companies to identify competitors for their business or services, and determine how the organization can adjust to stay ahead of the game.
- Six Thinking Hats : In his book of the same name, Dr. Edward de Bono details this method that encourages parallel thinking and attempting to solve a problem by trying on different “thinking hats.” Each color hat signifies a different approach that can be utilized in the problem-solving process, ranging from logic to feelings to creativity and beyond. This method allows organizations to view problems from different angles and perspectives.
- SWOT Analysis : This common strategic planning and management tool helps businesses identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT).
“We have a lot of these different tools,” David says. “Which one to use when is going to be dependent on the problem itself, the level of the stakeholders, the number of different stakeholder groups and so on.”
Each of the techniques outlined above uses the same core steps of problem solving:
- Identify and define the problem
- Consider possible solutions
- Evaluate options
- Choose the best solution
- Implement the solution
- Evaluate the outcome
Data drives a lot of daily decisions in business and beyond. Analytics have also been deployed to problem solve.
“We have specific classes around storytelling with data and how you convince your audience to understand what the data is,” David says. “Your audience has to trust the data, and only then can you use it for real decision-making.”
Data can be a powerful tool for identifying larger trends and making informed decisions when it’s clearly understood and communicated. It’s also vital for performance monitoring and optimization.
How Is Problem Solving Prioritized in Purdue’s Online MBA?
The courses in the Purdue Online MBA program teach problem-solving methods to students, keeping them up to date with the latest techniques and allowing them to apply their knowledge to business-related scenarios.
“I can give you a model or a tool, but most of the time, a real-world situation is going to be a lot messier and more valuable than what we’ve seen in a textbook,” David says. “Asking students to take what they know and apply it to a case where there’s not one single correct answer is a big part of the learning experience.”
Make Your Own Decision to Further Your Career
An online MBA from Purdue University can help advance your career by teaching you problem-solving skills, decision-making strategies and more. Reach out today to learn more about earning an online MBA with Purdue University .
About the Author
- Health Sciences
- Student Advice
- 6.2 Creative Problem-Solving Process
- 1.1 Entrepreneurship Today
- 1.2 Entrepreneurial Vision and Goals
- 1.3 The Entrepreneurial Mindset
- Review Questions
- Discussion Questions
- Case Questions
- Suggested Resources
- 2.1 Overview of the Entrepreneurial Journey
- 2.2 The Process of Becoming an Entrepreneur
- 2.3 Entrepreneurial Pathways
- 2.4 Frameworks to Inform Your Entrepreneurial Path
- 3.1 Ethical and Legal Issues in Entrepreneurship
- 3.2 Corporate Social Responsibility and Social Entrepreneurship
- 3.3 Developing a Workplace Culture of Ethical Excellence and Accountability
- 4.1 Tools for Creativity and Innovation
- 4.2 Creativity, Innovation, and Invention: How They Differ
- 4.3 Developing Ideas, Innovations, and Inventions
- 5.1 Entrepreneurial Opportunity
- 5.2 Researching Potential Business Opportunities
- 5.3 Competitive Analysis
- 6.1 Problem Solving to Find Entrepreneurial Solutions
- 6.3 Design Thinking
- 6.4 Lean Processes
- 7.1 Clarifying Your Vision, Mission, and Goals
- 7.2 Sharing Your Entrepreneurial Story
- 7.3 Developing Pitches for Various Audiences and Goals
- 7.4 Protecting Your Idea and Polishing the Pitch through Feedback
- 7.5 Reality Check: Contests and Competitions
- 8.1 Entrepreneurial Marketing and the Marketing Mix
- 8.2 Market Research, Market Opportunity Recognition, and Target Market
- 8.3 Marketing Techniques and Tools for Entrepreneurs
- 8.4 Entrepreneurial Branding
- 8.5 Marketing Strategy and the Marketing Plan
- 8.6 Sales and Customer Service
- 9.1 Overview of Entrepreneurial Finance and Accounting Strategies
- 9.2 Special Funding Strategies
- 9.3 Accounting Basics for Entrepreneurs
- 9.4 Developing Startup Financial Statements and Projections
- 10.1 Launching the Imperfect Business: Lean Startup
- 10.2 Why Early Failure Can Lead to Success Later
- 10.3 The Challenging Truth about Business Ownership
- 10.4 Managing, Following, and Adjusting the Initial Plan
- 10.5 Growth: Signs, Pains, and Cautions
- 11.1 Avoiding the “Field of Dreams” Approach
- 11.2 Designing the Business Model
- 11.3 Conducting a Feasibility Analysis
- 11.4 The Business Plan
- 12.1 Building and Connecting to Networks
- 12.2 Building the Entrepreneurial Dream Team
- 12.3 Designing a Startup Operational Plan
- 13.1 Business Structures: Overview of Legal and Tax Considerations
- 13.2 Corporations
- 13.3 Partnerships and Joint Ventures
- 13.4 Limited Liability Companies
- 13.5 Sole Proprietorships
- 13.6 Additional Considerations: Capital Acquisition, Business Domicile, and Technology
- 13.7 Mitigating and Managing Risks
- 14.1 Types of Resources
- 14.2 Using the PEST Framework to Assess Resource Needs
- 14.3 Managing Resources over the Venture Life Cycle
- 15.1 Launching Your Venture
- 15.2 Making Difficult Business Decisions in Response to Challenges
- 15.3 Seeking Help or Support
- 15.4 Now What? Serving as a Mentor, Consultant, or Champion
- 15.5 Reflections: Documenting the Journey
- A | Suggested Resources
Portions of the material in this section are based on original work by Geoffrey Graybeal and produced with support from the Rebus Community. The original is freely available under the terms of the CC BY 4.0 license at https://press.rebus.community/media-innovation-and-entrepreneurship/.
By the end of this section, you will be able to:
- Describe the five steps in the creative problem-solving process
- Identify and describe common creative problem-solving tools
Creativity can be an important trait of an entrepreneur, as the chapter on Creativity, Innovation, and Invention discussed. In that discussion, we learned about creativity’s role in innovation . Here, we will look in more depth at creativity’s role in problem solving . Let’s first formally define creativity as the development of original ideas to solve an issue. The intent of being an entrepreneur is to break away from practical norms and use imagination to embrace quick and effective solutions to an existing problem, usually outside the corporate environment.
The Steps of the Creative Problem-Solving Process
Training oneself to think like an entrepreneur means learning the steps to evaluating a challenge: clarify, ideate, develop, implement, and evaluate ( Figure 6.9 ).
Step 1: Clarify
To clarify is the critical step of recognizing the existence of a gap between the current state and a desired state. This can also be thought of as having need awareness , which occurs when the entrepreneur notes a gap between societal or customer needs and actual circumstances. Clarifying the problem by speaking with clients and developing a detailed description of the problem brings the specifics of a problem to light. Failure to identify the specifics of a problem leaves the entrepreneur with the impossible task of solving a ghost problem, a problem that is fully unknown or unseen. To establish and maintain credibility, an entrepreneur must clarify the problem by focusing on solving the problem itself, rather than solving a symptom of the problem.
For example, a farm could have polluted water, but it would not be enough to solve the problem only on that farm. Clarifying would involve identifying the source of the pollution to adequately tackle the problem. After gaining an understanding of a problem, the entrepreneur should begin to formulate plans for eliminating the gap. A fishbone diagram , as shown in Figure 6.10 , is a tool that can be used to identify the causes of such a problem.
In the case of our water pollution example, a fishbone diagram exploring the issue might reveal the items shown in Figure 6.11 .
Step 2: Ideate
To ideate is the step of the creative problem-solving process that involves generating and detailing ideas by the entrepreneur. After collecting all information relevant to the problem, the entrepreneur lists as many causes of the problem as possible. This is the step in which the largest variety of ideas are put forth. Each idea must be evaluated for feasibility and cost as a solution to the problem. If a farm does not have clean water, for example, the entrepreneur must list causes of toxic water and eliminate as many of those causes as possible. The entrepreneur must then move forward investigating solutions to bring the water back to a safe state. If, say, nearby livestock are polluting the water, the livestock should be isolated from the water source.
Step 3: Develop
To develop is the step in which the entrepreneur takes the list of ideas generated and tests each solution for feasibility. The entrepreneur must consider the cost of each idea and the obstacles to implementation. In the preceding example, adding a chemical to the water may not be a feasible solution to the farmer. Not every farmer wants additional chloride or fluoride added to the water due to the effect on both humans and livestock. These tradeoffs should be addressed in the feasibility assessment. The farmer might prefer a filtration system, but the cost of that solution might not be practicable. The entrepreneur should identify and assess alternative solutions to find one that is most cost-effective and feasible to the customer.
Step 4: Implement
To implement is the step in which the solution to the problem is tested and evaluated. The entrepreneur walks through the planned implementation with the client and tests each part of the solution, if a service, or thoroughly tests a developed good. The entrepreneur implements the solution and goes through a structured system of follow-up to ensure the solution remains effective and viable. In the water example, the solution would be reducing runoff from toxic insecticides by adding prairie strips, buffers of grass, and vegetation along banks of streams.
Step 5: Evaluate
To evaluate is the step in which the final solution is assessed. This is a very important step that entrepreneurs often overlook. Any fallacy in the implementation of the product or service is reassessed, and new solutions are implemented. A continual testing process may be needed to find the final solution. The prairie strips, buffers of grass, and vegetation along banks of streams chosen in the farming water example should then be analyzed and tested to ensure the chosen solution changed the content of the water.
Are You Ready?
Implementing creative problem solving.
Removing waste is a problem, and it can also present an entrepreneurial opportunity. Try to examine ways in which waste products that you usually pay to have hauled away can now generate revenue. Whether it’s recycling aluminum cans or cardboard, or garbage that could be used to feed animals, your task is to come up with solutions to this entrepreneurial-oriented problem.
- Try following the first step of the creative problem-solving process and clearly identify the problem.
- Next, gather data and formulate the challenge.
- Then, explore ideas and come up with solutions.
- Develop a plan of action.
- Finally, note how you would evaluate the effectiveness of your solution.
Using Creativity to Solve Problems
Entrepreneurs are faced with solving many problems as they develop their ideas for filling gaps, whether those opportunities involve establishing a new company or starting a new enterprise within an existing company. Some of these problems include staffing, hiring and managing employees, handling legal compliance, funding, marketing, and paying taxes. Beyond the mundane activities listed, the entrepreneur, or the team that the entrepreneur puts in place, is indispensable in maintaining the ongoing creativity behind the product line or service offered. Innovation and creativity in the business are necessary to expand the product line or develop a groundbreaking service.
It is not necessary for the entrepreneur to feel isolated when it comes to finding creative solutions to a problem. There are societies, tools, and new methods available to spur the creativity of the entrepreneur that will further support the success and expansion of a new enterprise. 14 Learning and using entrepreneurial methods to solve problems alleviates the stress many startup owners feel. The entrepreneur’s creativity will increase using collaborative methodologies . Some entrepreneurial collaborative methodologies include crowdsourcing, brainstorming, storyboarding, conducting quick online surveys to test ideas and concepts, and team creativity activities.
Professor Daren Brabham at the University of Southern California has written books on crowdsourcing and touts its potential in for-profit and not-for-profit business sectors. He defines it simply as “an online, distributed problem-solving and production model.” 15 Crowdsourcing involves teams of amateurs and nonexperts working together to form a solution to a problem. 16 The idea, as cbsnews.com’s Jennifer Alsever has put it, is to “tap into the collective intelligence of the public at large to complete business-related tasks that a company would normally either perform itself or outsource to a third-party provider. Yet free labor is only a narrow part of crowdsourcing's appeal. More importantly, it enables managers to expand the size of their talent pool while also gaining deeper insight into what customers really want. The challenge is to take a cautionary approach to the ‘wisdom of the crowd,’ which can lead to a ‘herd’ mentality.” 17
Link to Learning
Read this article that discusses what crowdsourcing is, how to use it, and its benefits for more information.
This new business prototype, similar to outsourcing, features an enterprise posting a problem online and asking for volunteers to consider the problem and propose solutions. Volunteers earn a reward, such as prize money, promotional materials like a T-shirt, royalties on creative outlets like photos or designs, and in some cases, compensation for their labor. Before proposing the solution, volunteers learn that the solutions become the intellectual property of the startup posting the problem. The solution is then mass produced for profit by the startup that posted the problem. 18 The process evolves into the crowdsourcing process after the enterprise mass produces and profits from the labor of the volunteers and the team. Entrepreneurs should consider that untapped masses have solutions for many issues for which agendas do not yet exist. Crowdsourcing can exploit those agendas and add to the tools used to stimulate personal creativity. This type of innovation is planned and strategically implemented for profit.
For example, Bombardier held a crowdsourced innovation contest to solicit input on the future of train interiors, including seat design and coach class interior. A corporate jury judged the submissions, with the top ten receiving computers or cash prizes. Companies are often constrained, however, by internal rules limiting open source or external idea sourcing, as they could be accused of “stealing” an idea. While crowdsourcing outside of software can be problematic, some products such as MakerBot ’s 3D printers, 3DR’ s drones, and Jibo ’s Social Robot have used developer kits and “makers” to help build a community and stimulate innovation from the outside.
Work It Out
A crowdsourced potato chip.
In an effort to increase sales among millennials, PepsiCo turned to crowdsourcing to get new flavor ideas for their Lay’s potato chips (called Walker’s in the UK). Their 2012 campaign, “Do Us a Flavor,” was so successful that they received over 14 million submissions. The winner was Cheesy Garlic Bread, which increased their potato chip sales by 8 percent during the first three months after the launch.
- What are some other products that would work well for a crowdsourced campaign contest?
- What items wouldn’t work well?
Amazon ’s Mechanical Turk is an online crowdsourcing platform that allows individuals to post tasks for workers to complete. In many instances, these tasks are compensated, but the payment can be less than one dollar per item completed. Mechanical Turk is one of the largest and most well-known crowdsourcing platforms, but there are a number of other more niche ones as well that would apply to smaller markets. In the case of innovation contests and outsourced tasks from corporations, those tasks may be hosted internally by the corporation.
Brainstorming is the generation of ideas in an environment free of judgment or dissension with the goal of creating solutions. See Creativity, Innovation, and Invention to refresh yourself on this technique. Brainstorming is meant to stimulate participants into thinking about problem solving in a new way. Using a multifunctional group, meaning participants come from different departments and with different skill sets, gives entrepreneurs and support teams a genuine chance to suggest and actualize ideas. The group works together to refine and prototype potential solutions to a problem.
Brainstorming is a highly researched and often practiced technique for the development of innovative solutions. One of the more successful proponents of brainstorming is the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) . UNICEF faces unique problems of solving resource problems for mothers and children in underdeveloped nations. See how UNICEF practices brainstorming to solve problems including child survival, gender inclusion, refugee crises, education, and others.
The setting for a brainstorming session should remain as informal and relaxed as possible. The group needs to avoid standard solutions. All ideas are welcome and listed and considered with no censorship and with no regard to administrative restrictions. All team members have an equal voice. The focus of brainstorming is on quantity of ideas rather than on the ideal solution provided in every suggestion. A classic entrepreneurial brainstorming activity, as popularized by business software developer Strategyzer , is known as the “silly cow” exercise. Teams come up with ideas for new business models pertaining to a cow, with the results often outrageous, ranging from sponsored cows to stroking cows for therapeutic release. Participants are asked to identify some aspect of a cow and develop three business models around that concept in a short time period, typically two minutes or fewer. The activity is designed to get creative juices flowing.
Watch this video from ABC’s Nightline that shows how IDEO designed a new shopping cart for an example of a design process that involves brainstorming.
Storyboarding is the process of presenting an idea in a step-by-step graphic format, as Figure 6.12 shows. This tool is useful when the entrepreneur is attempting to visualize a solution to a problem. The steps to the solution of a problem are sketched and hung in graphic format. Once the original graphic is placed, images of steps working toward a solution are added, subtracted, and rearranged on a continual basis, until the ultimate solution emerges in the ultimate graphic format. For many years, entrepreneurs have used this process to create a pre-visual for various media sequences.
Team creativity is the process whereby an entrepreneur works with a team to create an unexpected solution for an issue or challenge. Teams progress through the same creative problem-solving process described already: clarify, ideate, develop, implement, and evaluate. The main advantage of team creativity is the collaboration and support members receive from one another. Great teams trust in other team members, have diverse members with diverse points of view, are cohesive, and have chemistry.
Team members should work in a stress-free and relaxing environment. Reinforcement and expansion of ideas in the team environment motivates the team to continually expand horizons toward problem solution. A small idea in a team may spark the imagination of a team member to an original idea. Mark Zuckerberg , cofounder of Facebook , once said, “The most important thing for you as an entrepreneur trying to build something is, you need to build a really good team. And that’s what I spend all my time on.” 19
Entrepreneur In Action
Taaluma totes 20.
Young entrepreneurs Jack DuFour and Alley Heffern began to notice the beautiful fabrics that came from the different countries they visited. The entrepreneurs thought about what could be done with the fabrics to create employment opportunities both in the country from which the fabric originated and in their home base of Virginia. They decided to test producing totes from the fabrics they found and formed Taaluma Totes ( Figure 6.13 ). DuFour and Heffern also wanted to promote the production of these fabrics and help underserved populations in countries where the fabric originated maintain a living or follow a dream.
The team continued to test the process and gathered original fabrics, which they sent to Virginia to create totes. They trained individuals with disabilities in Virginia to manufacture the totes, thus serving populations in the United States. The entrepreneurs then decided to take 20 percent of their profits and make microloans to farmers and small business owners in the countries where the fabric originated to create jobs there. Microloans are small loans, below $50,000, which certain lenders offer to enterprising startups. These startups, for various reasons (they are in poor nations, at poverty level), can’t afford a traditional loan from a major bank. The lenders offer business support to the borrower, which in turn helps the borrower repay the microloan. The microloans from Taaluma are repaid when the borrower is able. Repayments are used to buy more fabric, completing Taaluma’s desire to serve dual populations. If the process proved unsuccessful, the co-owners would revise the process to meet the plan’s requirements.
DuFour and Heffern now have fabrics from dozens of countries from Thailand to Ecuador. The totes are specialized with features to meet individual needs. The product line is innovated regularly and Taaluma Totes serves a dual purpose of employing persons with disabilities in Virginia and creating employment for underserved populations in other countries.
- 14 “Creating a World of Opportunities.” The Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization . n.d. https://www.c-e-o.org/
- 15 Daren C. Brabham. “Crowdsourcing as a Model for Problem Solving: An Introduction and Cases.” Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies 14, no. 1 (2008): 75–90.
- 16 Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey. “How Crowdsourcing Is Shaping the Future of Everything.” Entrepreneur. January 13, 2018. https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/307438
- 17 Jennifer Alsever. “What Is Crowdsourcing?” CBS News . May 1, 2008. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/what-is-crowdsourcing
- 18 Daren C. Brabham. “Crowdsourcing as a Model for Problem Solving: An Introduction and Cases.” Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies 14, no. 1 (2008): 75–90.
- 19 “Three Tips for Entrepreneurs Creating the Perfect Team.” Virgin . n.d. https://www.virgin.com/entrepreneur/three-tips-entrepreneurs-creating-perfect-team
- 20 “Backpacks That Carry a Country.” Taaluma Totes. n.d. https://www.carryacountry.com/pages/about
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How You Can Use Creative Problem Solving at Work
Lucid Content Team
Reading time: about 4 min
How many times have you tried to solve a problem only to get stuck in the process? In a business setting, this is a common occurrence. You’re faced with issues that traditional problem solving methods can’t solve. But you still need to find a way to fix the issue to move a project forward or resolve a conflict. This is when you may need to get creative to solve the problem at hand.
What is creative problem solving?
The definition of creative problem solving (CPS) will vary between organizations. At its core, CPS involves approaching a problem in an imaginative, innovative, and unconventional way. The process encourages you to find new, creative ways of thinking that can help you overcome the issue at hand more quickly.
7 steps of the creative problem solving process
The CPS process can be broken down into seven steps.
1. Identify the goal
Before solving the problem, you need to fully understand the problem you’re trying to solve. You may have overlooked or misunderstood some details. Take some time to analyze the conflict and clear up any confusion.
2. Gather data
Once you know what the problem is, you need to learn all you can about it. Who does the problem affect? Who is involved in solving the issue? Gather all the knowledge you can to gain a better understanding of the issue and to solve it.
3. Formulate challenge questions
After you’ve gathered the details, turn the problem into a question. Word the question in a way that encourages suggestions or ideas. It should be short, concise, and only focus on a single issue. Once you’ve created one or two questions, start trying to answer them.
4. Explore ideas
This step is where the brainstorming begins. You’ll be creating possible ideas or solutions to the problem you’re facing. This is usually when the creativity really starts to flow. With so many ideas flowing, it’s crucial that you write each of them down—even the stupid ones. Even if the idea you come up with has little to no chance of working, write it down. Trying to sort out bad ideas from the good ones during this step can squash creativity.
5. Come up with solutions.
Weed out the average ideas from the winners by testing each one. See if the possible solution actually solves the problem and if you can implement it successfully. If the potential solution doesn’t resolve the issue, move on to the next idea. Evaluating each idea will help you zero in on the perfect solution.
6. Create an action plan
Now that you have the perfect solution, you’ll need to create an action plan outlining implementation steps. Consider what resources you’ll need and how long it will take. Then write it all down. Once you create the plan, communicate the approach to the rest of the team so they’re aware of what’s happening.
To help you create an organized and detailed plan, you can use swimlanes in Lucidchart.
7. Take action
With your plan created and your team on board, it’s time to implement your solution and resolve the problem.
Just knowing the process behind CPS isn’t enough. You’ll want to know about the common creative problem solving ideas or techniques that you can use to be more successful during each phase. Below are a few of the techniques you can use to help you through the CPS process:
Synectics: This technique helps to inspire thoughts that you might not be aware of. It is a way to approach creativity in a logical, rational manner.
TRIZ methodology (Theory of Inventive Problem Solving): This problem solving methodology is based on logic, data, and research—not intuition. It involves adapting existing solutions to your particular problem.
Brainstorming: Using this technique allows you to collect a number of ideas that can be a potential solution to a problem and can be used in either a group or individual setting.
Mind mapping: Mind mapping helps keeps your ideas organized by representing them in a graphical manner.
Reversal of problem: Trying to solve a problem using traditional problem solving methods can sometimes end in roadblocks.This technique forces you to think about a problem from a new perspective.
Looking beyond something’s function: Thinking about how you can use something beyond its typical function is a common CPS technique.
SCAMPER: This acronym can help you come up with new ideas. Each letter stands for a way you can manipulate an original idea to come up with something new:
- S ubstitute
- P ut to other uses
Why use CPS
No matter what profession you’re in, you will face challenges. There will be times when traditional problem solving techniques just don’t do the trick. That’s when you can take advantage of CPS to help uncover the best solution to your problem.
Lucidchart, a cloud-based intelligent diagramming application, is a core component of Lucid Software's Visual Collaboration Suite. This intuitive, cloud-based solution empowers teams to collaborate in real-time to build flowcharts, mockups, UML diagrams, customer journey maps, and more. Lucidchart propels teams forward to build the future faster. Lucid is proud to serve top businesses around the world, including customers such as Google, GE, and NBC Universal, and 99% of the Fortune 500. Lucid partners with industry leaders, including Google, Atlassian, and Microsoft. Since its founding, Lucid has received numerous awards for its products, business, and workplace culture. For more information, visit lucidchart.com.
Affinity Diagrams: Your Key to More Creative Problem Solving
No matter the situation, affinity diagramming will help you to organize your thoughts and overcome your workplace challenges. Use these tips and templates to get started.
How to brainstorm: 4 ways to get the creative juices flowing
Brainstorming can promote problem-solving and innovative thinking to bring the best ideas forward. Follow these four steps and learn how to brainstorm ideas like a pro.
Bring your bright ideas to life.
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Creative Problem-Solving Strategies to Test Your Business Idea How to use an approach called 'design thinking' when you're creating a new product or business.
By Nadia Goodman • Feb 28, 2013
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Truly innovative small businesses and startups create a bold vision of a future that doesn't exist yet, solving problems that customers don't even know they have. But they don't pull that vision out of thin air -- many inventive companies use a strategy called design thinking.
"Design thinking is a problem-solving approach," says Jeanne Liedtka, a design and innovation expert at University of Virginia's Darden School of Business . "It's a set of tools that help you make decisions in the kinds of high uncertainty situations that entrepreneurs face."
While business schools typically emphasize market research and data, design thinking focuses on real world interaction and experimentation. Many entrepreneurs naturally use ideas from this approach, but it's typically taught at design schools as a process for creating new products.
Using a design-thinking approach, entrepreneurs become anthropologists, studying the customers they hope to serve and using that knowledge to get simple prototypes into their hands quickly. "The power of a design thinking approach is that you get deep insight into customer needs," Liedtka says.
Related: How Thinking Like a Designer Can Inspire Innovation
Design thinking can also be a way to get off the ground when all you have is a vague idea. "The structure of design thinking really helps when you have no clue how to begin," Liedtka says. It helps you explore and guides you to find problems that need to be solved.
Liedtka breaks the design-thinking process into four stages, assigning a core question to each of them. Try asking yourself these questions as you create a new product or business:
1. What is the opportunity? The first step in the design-thinking process is to understand the solutions that already exist for the problem you're trying to solve or the group you want to help. "Design thinking starts with identifying an area of opportunity, not a solution," Liedtka says.
To do that, observe real people in their natural environment. For example, if you want to create a better tablet, watch a small group of 10 to 12 people using their current tablets in daily life. What do they like? What annoys them? What workarounds do they use to overcome design flaws? Those answers will highlight problems your customers don't even know they have -- problems that you can solve.
2. What if? In the second stage, start to imagine solutions. Take the list of needs you discovered in the field, then brainstorm as many ways to meet those needs as possible. Let yourself get creative here -- assume that anything is possible.
"The ideas you'll come out with aren't blue sky made up ideas," Liedtka says. "They're inspired by needs you've identified." By limiting the brainstorm process in that way, you increase the chances of finding a viable solution and creating a successful product.
3. What wows? Once you've exhausted all the possible solutions, think practically about which ones are most likely to work. "You're looking for the wow zone," Liedtka says. "That's the intersection of something that customers want, that you can create, and that's likely to have a profitable business model associated with it."
At this point, you're bringing more structure and data to the design process, essentially making a traditional business case for each of the options. With that lens, narrow your ideas down to a handful of viable options, some safe and some adventurous.
4. What works? Finally, create prototypes for each of those options and bring them back to the customers you observed at the beginning. Each prototype should be extremely simple, allowing you to watch and hear their reactions with minimal investment.
After your observations, take the feedback and iterate, creating another round of simple prototypes to test. "Small experiments are the way you fail, or ideally succeed, fast and cheap," Liedtka says. By the time you bring the product to market, you'll have more confidence in its chances of success.
Related: Unlocking Business Ideas Hidden in the Natural World
Nadia Goodman is a freelance writer in Brooklyn, NY. She is a former editor at YouBeauty.com, where she wrote about the psychology of health and beauty. She earned a B.A. in English from Northwestern University and an M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Columbia University. Visit her website, nadiagoodman.com .
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A Proven Creative Problem-Solving Technique In Business
Are the things that bother you holding you back from getting things done?
I believe that 90% of any problem you have is that you’re bothered and not doing anything about it. The simple creative problem-solving technique in business (and life) that I’ll share in this post has helped me move past roadblocks in seconds , and I think it’ll help you too.
The problem isn’t what you think it is.
Whatever problem you have that needs to be solved isn’t the actual problem. The problem is the bother you feel—the irritation, frustration, or maybe even anger—that paralyzes your mind. See, when you allow yourself to be bothered, your brain is flooded with emotion, and this blocks your ability to access your brain’s problem-solving abilities.
That’s the real problem.
Think about it. As an entrepreneur, you’ve built a business around solving what bothers other people. Those bothers paralyze them , which is why they need you and the solution you offer. Their situation doesn’t bother you. You like addressing their issue because your business has the solution for it.
This creative problem-solving technique is helpful for the way you communicate with your clients. Do they know their actual problem?
Acknowledge your real problem.
The first step of my simple creative problem-solving technique is to say, “This bothers me.” Yes, it’s that easy (or hard, if you can’t admit to being bothered in the first place!). When you acknowledge your emotion around the problem, it immediately loses its vise grip around your mind and allows you to think clearly and get into problem-solving mode.
The next thing I’ll do is ask myself, “If this didn’t bother me, how would I handle it?” A solution comes to mind almost instantly, every single time.
For example, I have a business game plan called the Breakthrough Booklet that I complete every quarter. In it, I identify my progress for the last quarter, what I’m up to now, and what’s ahead in the next quarter.
For years, completing this booklet would take five or six hours of my time at the close of each quarter. And every quarter, I would angst over getting it done. I just didn’t like doing it. Simple as that.
It bothered me.
But it wasn’t until I was honest with myself about the bother that a solution came to mind: to use Otter.ai, a transcription service, talk through each section of the booklet, and send the transcription to my team to edit and polish.
Understand what’s bothering you— in detail .
To be clear, I don’t hate expressing the things that go into the booklet. If you know me, you know that I could talk about business progress, strategy, and goals forever! What bothered me was sitting down and typing it up. And although transcription solutions have been available for years, I didn’t recognize them as a simple solution because my brain wouldn’t admit that the process bothered me in the first place.
In most cases, when using this creative problem-solving technique in business, the solution is to find the Who to do the How that you hate.
I hate typing things up, but the Otter.ai business loves providing a transcription service. I’m not a fan of polishing up transcriptions, but someone on my team loves the careful attention to detail and precision that the editing process requires.
Your business provides solutions for what bothers your customers. You are the Who . When your clients realize that they’re bothered in the first place, they’ll see your offering as the solution to their problem.
Just like you, if your clients don’t acknowledge their bother, they won’t be able to see solutions, including your business offering. This is why highlighting your clients’ bother—their “pain point” in marketing terms—is so important to helping them through this powerful creative problem-solving technique.
Your bother isn’t significant.
Although your bother makes up 90% of your actual problem, it’s not significant. And it’s especially not practical for business problem solving. Let me explain what I mean. See, there’s no meaning in angst, annoyance, or frustration except for the sheer fact that you’re bothered. It’s just a feeling, a state, that you can get out of quickly when you come to terms with what it is.
So, tell the truth .
Say what bothers you in your business, and be specific! The brain loves specifics and will use them in problem-solving mode.
This creative problem-solving technique in business, where you address the bother first , is wildly effective. It simply requires a mindset shift to acknowledge the emotion and then swiftly move past it to find a solution.
In most cases, you’ll be amazed at how obvious the solution seems.
Five takeaways about bother.
- Anything can be a bother.
- Bother breeds more bother.
- Bothered people attract one another.
- You can’t resolve a bother, only acknowledge it.
- Bother has no significance.
All degrees of bother are bound to find their way into your life and your mind at some point. Use this creative problem-solving technique in business to acknowledge it faster so you can stop wasting time and get to a solution.
My book Who Not How , co-authored by Ben Hardy, goes deeper into ways to leverage yourself by teaming up with the right “Whos” to do the “Hows” to achieve your goals. Get your copy to level up your problem-solving skills as your business grows.
Creative Problem Solving And Its Techniques
Entrepreneurs need to script their own journeys, figure out their own things, and solve problems. If you keep running back…
Entrepreneurs need to script their own journeys, figure out their own things, and solve problems. If you keep running back to your mentor at the drop of your hat, you’re not an entrepreneur. A true entrepreneur is a risk-taker, problem-solver, a person who’s willing to face challenges and failures.
– Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, chairperson, and MD of Biocon
While scripting your own life and career journey, it is imperative to master the skill of creative problem-solving. Successful people and organizations recognize that the solutions to their problems lie within themselves. They try to find them with a creative problem-solving process.
Most professionals face problems at work. It could be meeting a sales target or fixing a technical glitch in a product. Learning how to solve problems efficiently is a key skill for success at work and life in general. Sometimes, you have to think out of the box to solve problems creatively.
What is creative problem-solving?
Have you noticed how some people have a knack for turning a problem into an opportunity? Take the stones people throw at you and use them to build a monument, said former Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata. It was a fantastic way of expressing creative problem-solving at work.
Creative problem-solving involves approaching a problem or a challenge in an inventive way. It is a process that redefines problems and opportunities and helps us come up with innovative solutions.
Generally, the creative problem-solving process involves the following stages:
Identify the problem or the challenge
Generate ideas that may be possible solutions
Solve the problem with the help of generated ideas
Implement the solution plan and move to the next step
A well-planned and strategically executed creative problem-solving process brings team members together. It encourages proactive participation among colleagues.
Let’s look at an example. Seema was not happy with her career in the IT industry. She approached the problem by thinking about various options that appealed to her. Using her creative problem-solving skill, she decided to try her hand at travel blogging given her passion for travel and nose for digital marketing.
Let’s turn to some highly successful techniques of creative problem-solving.
Techniques of creative problem-solving
Brainstorming is one of the most popular techniques of creative problem-solving. It is an individual as well as a group activity. When the city’s municipal corporation needs to come up with measures regarding safety and health, citizens are often asked to brainstorm and suggest innovative ideas. Brainstorming is a blend of creativity and problem-solving.
Mind-mapping is a useful creative problem-solving process. A mind map is a graphic representation of ideas and concepts. It is a visual tool for creativity and problem-solving. Mind maps help you categorize and structure information. They aid comprehension, analysis, and help generate innovative ideas. Seeing the problem and possible solutions represented in visual form helps many of us see the bigger picture and connect the dots.
3. Counterfactual Thinking
When Rosie has to take a call on a problem, she thinks about all her previous decisions. She thinks of the things that have gone wrong and the opportunities that she missed out on. Such counterfactual thinking helps her face the current problem and find a solution. Counterfactual thinking is one of the smartest examples of creative problem-solving at work. However, it is important not to channel negative emotions while going down the counterfactual thinking route. Use your past experiences to ensure you don’t repeat mistakes, seize opportunities, and measure how far you’ve come. Be present and future-focused, and don’t use counterfactual thoughts to get trapped in the “What ifs” of your past.
Abstraction is a great booster for creativity and problem-solving. When a creative director in an advertising agency has to design a campaign for a brand of fruit drinks or evening wear, he uses abstraction. He thinks about the emotions associated with the drink or the evening, such as camaraderie, romance, taste, health, joy, and so on. ( xanax )
You must have noticed many examples of creative problem-solving at work.
Deploying a thought experiment by using comparison or similarity as a tool
Breaking free from assumptions to think originally
Going beyond assigned tasks to experiment
Raising questions and seeking new viewpoints
Reapplying rules that have worked previously
Stepping out of your comfort zone and thinking differently
Go ahead and build a culture of creativity around you. Overcome your mental barriers and let your imagination run free. Navigate obstacles to solve problems and come up with innovative solutions.
Harappa Education’s Unleashing Creativity course teaches you how to generate, test, and refine new ideas. It empowers you with in-depth creativity and problem-solving skills by teaching you concepts such as the Disney Creative Tool framework involving three roles: including dreamers, realists, and critics. Assigning these roles to groups will help organizations brainstorm ideas, create plans, and identify roadblocks. to reach the desired goals successfully. Sign up and begin your creative problem-solving journey.
Explore topics such as Creative Thinking & How to be Creative at Work from our Harappa Diaries blog section and develop your strategic thinking skills .
How Can Creative Problem-Solving and Design Thinking Uplevel Your Business?
A 2017 Gallup poll revealed that only 35% of workers believe they’re given only a few opportunities per year to be creative in the office. The same study also noted that 18% of respondents thought they believed their employers allowed them to take creative risks. These numbers imply the declining value of creative problem-solving and design thinking in the workplace.
Employees who feel like their creativity is engaged and ignited by their projects are more likely to report satisfaction in their careers and stick around for the long haul. Learning how to provide more opportunities for workers to harness their imagination and innovation leads to improved products, more compelling marketing, and an overall improved corporate culture.
Defining Creative Problem-Solving
Creative problem-solving (CPS), at its core, encourages employees to find novel ways to approach their tasks. This method allows for more expansive processes than is typical in the contemporary workforce, as it takes advantage of team members’ collective strengths and insights.
The cornerstones of a strong creative problem-solving practice include the following:
- Divergent thinking: Divergent thinking involves breaking down an existing problem in order to find a solution in the details. CPS balances divergent and convergent thinking.
- Convergent thinking: Convergent thinking takes the information from a divergent thinking session and organizes it into possibilities and probabilities. It pulls together what divergent thinking takes apart, which is why both are necessary in a CPS session.
- Abstract thinking: Abstract thinking requires looking beyond the obvious information and looking for any patterns, complementary philosophies, and other concepts that could contribute to a more robust solution.
- Positivity: Some brainstorming sessions immediately dismiss ideas outright for the sake of saving time, though this approach actively discourages creativity and employee contributions. Strong CPS says “yes” to everything during the divergent thinking process.
- Development: Part of saying “yes” to all possibilities also entails expanding on every idea on the table before making a decision. Resist the urge to dismiss any contributions outright to aim for efficiency. Some ideas may require a little building out before coming into their own as the most viable solution.
- Asking questions: Great development requires asking both interpersonal and intrapersonal questions. It gives ideas room to grow and collaborators an opportunity to combine their skillsets in innovative new ways. Asking questions opens up even more possibilities for additional potential outcomes.
- Delaying decisions: Rushing too quickly into implementing a solution runs the risk of creating future problems down the line. Remember, “slow and steady wins the race.” CPS prioritizes due diligence over expedience.
Over time, companies can build off of these basic building blocks to further define creative problem-solving in a way more tailored to their business needs.
Why is Creative Problem-Solving Important?
The importance of creative problem-solving centers around its flexibility and granularity. It asks workers to consider the details before moving on to the bigger picture rather than only focusing on one particular scale.
In addition, CPS nurtures a workplace culture that gives everyone a voice during the brainstorming process. Companies hoping to increase their employee retention rate should consider implementing CPS as a normal process. Workers who believe their input is valued are far more likely to stay at their companies.
Other benefits of CPS include the following:
- Stronger solutions
- Greater innovation
- More interdisciplinary viewpoints
- More diversity
- Discovering new opportunities for growth
- Recognizing potential challenges before they arise
Ultimately, the role of CPS in business is to challenge conventional thinking and create exciting, new, and inclusive paths forward for the company. Pairing this approach with a commitment to design thinking helps bring out workers’ fullest potential.
Defining Design Thinking
The definition of design thinking dovetails with creative-problem solving. Where CPS is a driving philosophy that emphasizes breaking down problems and holistically rebuilding them to form stronger solutions, design thinking is a process through which CPS can be realized.
Pioneered at the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford University, design thinking outlines the strategy used by successful architects, product developers, and other designers to craft the most innovative possible results.
Design thinking involves five steps to ignite creativity:
- Empathize – Center the target audience’s needs first and foremost. Make sure all aspects of the design process as well as the final design promote comfort.
- Define – Strong designs require strong points of view. The define phase asks thinkers to come up with detailed breakdowns of the problem at hand and the different possible routes toward a solution.
- Ideate – Ideation is just another way to phrase “brainstorming.” Workers in ideation sessions craft and explore all the possibilities before narrowing them down to the most promising actions.
- Prototype – A prototype, whether it be a role-playing scenario, product mock-up, or even a simple mind map, provides insight into which possible solutions on hand offer the most satisfying returns. This phase requires a lot of experimenting and may involve dipping back into ideation mode.
- Test – Once a couple of prototypes have been properly solidified, it’s time to start putting them to the test. Ask members of your target audience to examine the available prototypes and provide feedback on improvements or additional features that would suit their needs even better.
Design thinking is a cycle. Employees may find themselves “going back to the drawing board” at different points in order to gain greater clarity on the possibilities at hand. It’s important to note that these instances are opportunities, never setbacks.
Some design thinking examples include the following:
- AirBnb : AirBnb is one of the most prominent examples of successful design thinking. The company started out as a struggling startup. A trip to New York, a camera, and talking to individuals interested in renting out their homes to travelers yielded the insight that users wouldn’t click on listings with poor-quality photos.
- Netflix : Netflix’s agility when utilizing design thinking makes it another major example of creative design thinking in action. They made the jump to offering a streaming service when DVD rentals started falling out of style. After noticing patterns in the sort of content subscribers preferred, Netflix again made the jump to offering original programming.
- Monash Health : This Australian mental health clinic wanted to reduce the number of patient relapses that mainly resulted in drug overdoses and suicide attempts. Monash worked closely with patients to understand all of the factors that went into relapsing and realized that sometimes the “best practices” in the mental health industry aren’t always “best practices” for every patient. They crafted a more personalized, patient-centric approach to care with the data gathered and lowered the number of relapses over time.
These successful design thinking examples span entirely different industries; creativity is not relegated exclusively to the creative sector. Harnessing the power of creative problem-solving and design thinking as a complementary set of mindsets applies to any company structure in any industry.
How Does Design Thinking Work with CPS?
Design thinking helps underscore why creative problem-solving is important. The structured processes that drive design thinking are themselves inspired by the philosophies of creative problem-solving.
In other words, think of creative problem-solving as a prix fixe menu outlining the chef’s desired theme for the evening. Design thinking would be the recipes themselves in this analogy. Nothing about creative problem-solving and design thinking’s cores contradict one another.
A company could apply CPS principles to problems at hand while not necessarily using a design thinking framework, just as it could work within a design thinking framework without creative problem-solving as the overarching outlook. However, creative problem-solving and design thinking work best when working together.
CPS Pitfalls to Avoid
Organizations hoping to infuse creative problem-solving into their corporate culture must research how to implement it in order to avoid the most common CPS challenges. Poorly-planned CPS can harm a company’s ability to find the right solutions. During problem-solving sessions, leaders tasked with overseeing the sessions should keep their eyes and ears out for the following issues that impede genuine progress:
- Rushed pacing
- Not providing the correct training or resources
- Not addressing bias
- Invalidating feedback
- Falling back on rigid thinking patterns
- Unclear communication
CPS, as well as design thinking, requires openness to thrive. Any bad habits that promote an inflexible environment actively damage productivity. Although leadership is responsible for organizing and moderating meetings, it takes every participant in a creative problem-solving and design thinking session to contribute to a healthy, innovative workspace.
Combining the tenets of creative problem-solving and design thinking opens companies up to their employees’ fullest potential. Creativity is meant to be nurtured, never boxed in, and fostering an environment where flexible thinking and decision-making are valued leads to stronger solutions and workers alike. Innovation will not and can not thrive with rigid, stale approaches to problem solving.
KnowledgeCity provides courses in Creative Problem-Solving and Design Thinking to help you and your company improve how you look at problems and craft the best solutions. Challenge yourself to start perceiving the world in truly innovative ways.
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- ACADEMIC ADVICE
The Importance of Creativity in Business: A Skill of the Future
- October 18, 2023
Table of Contents
Fast problem-solving, separating your business from the competition, boost in productivity, importance of sustaining creativity in a business, take a walk, broaden your knowledge, analyze everything, why is creativity important in business, how does creativity help in problem-solving for businesses, can businesses benefit from creativity in staying ahead of competitors, does creativity play a role in boosting employee productivity, why is it essential to sustain creativity in a business, how can i develop a creative mindset for business, are there any risks associated with embracing creativity in business.
With software becoming essential for businesses , some companies are more ready for changes brought by digital transformation than others. In addition, besides the general threat to public health, the coronavirus pandemic heavily affected the economy as well. Due to the widespread of the virus, roughly 200.000 U.S. establishments were permanently closed , and many people lost their jobs. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) , regardless of the policy support already deployed, the average unemployment rates are up compared to the pre-pandemic average. Why is this data necessary, you may ask.
Seeing how the world struggles to adapt to the changes thrust upon them, the spotlight falls upon business creativity as a skill that may be what saves the day for many companies. How is creativity important in business ? A creative mindset can be what helps business owners overcome challenges and succeed in this day and age. By thinking outside of the box, you can discover innovative solutions to the obstacles you face and prosper in the business world, regardless of the situation.
Why is Creativity Important in Business?
Creative thinking is one of the most demanded skills nowadays. Companies value workers who take innovative and unique approaches to solve problems and overcome challenges. The importance of creativity in business is also what helps employers and employees gain an advantage over competitors and boost productivity.
Even with machine learning and artificial intelligence fostering the power of automation , businesses need creative thinkers who bring new ideas to the table. After all, technology can only be as good as the people who operate it.
Creative thinking is necessary for business problem-solving. This skill enables workers to find opportunities that help improve situations in which finding a solution is difficult. It also helps them see the problems they face from another perspective. This way, they can use their imagination to come up with innovative approaches.
The process of creative thinking for problem-solving is not easy. However, once you merge creativity with interest, effort, and collaboration, you can generate unique and valuable ideas for any dilemma you may face.
Companies use creative approaches to add value to their business and gain an advantage over their competitors. For example, they can achieve this advantage by applying creative ideas in brainstorming for new product development (NPD). If the company provides a better service or product than its competitors, it can increase its profit margins. These unique products or services help the company reach new customers while also retaining the current ones.
Another benefit of creativity and innovation in business is that it helps in boosting productivity . Through coming up with creative ideas, you get to work on new exciting projects, which can be an incentive towards working harder. Business creativity also helps workers feel more appreciated since they get to test their limits and come up with something new. Plus, taking a creative approach encourages more feedback from peers and supervisors. With feedback, you can figure out the areas you need to improve on and work more effectively.
The real challenge of being a creative person working in business is sustaining that creativity. Sometimes, you have to deal with assignments that are monotonous and don’t require new ideas. It makes sense to work with already established work processes and ideas, especially when working in companies that have reached maturity. At that stage, some companies are not willing to take many risks and prefer to shift from experimentation towards stability.
You might never lose your creative side entirely, but you can certainly lose touch with it. Therefore, you should ensure you do not suppress your creativity and find creative ways to improve either your personal performance or pitch ideas that may benefit the entire department or company in which you work.
How Can I Develop a Creative Mindset?
Anyone can improve their ability to generate innovative ideas. Like every other skill , to fully develop your creativity, you must constantly use it. To ensure that creative thinking becomes a habit , you can practice it through the following activities.
According to a study based on the Kaplan theory , nature can enhance creative ways of thinking. This theory suggests that natural environments help recharge directed attention that is required when analyzing and developing ideas. When you are outside, the environment captures your involuntary attention, thus, allowing your voluntary or directed attention to “rest”. Another study also suggests that people are more creative when they are walking in comparison to sitting down.
Every idea you have is a combination of concepts that you already know. That is why the more knowledge you have, the greater your potential of generating unique ideas. You can read books, watch documentaries and films, keep up with the news, take new classes, start new hobbies, and socialize with different types of people to gain more knowledge.
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During your brainstorming session, you might come up with ideas that do not sound that good at first. Do not be discouraged. It is important that you further research every idea and plan until you find the one. The research will help you put new ideas into action, come up with some new ones, and weed out some unnecessary others.
Because we are always around technology, nowadays, distractions are just one click away. However, instead of always having your mind preoccupied with something, try being bored. Results of a study suggested that participants who felt bored performed better on creativity tests than the ones feeling distressed or relaxed. Give yourself the space to be creative.
If you want your business to succeed, you need to be ready to take risks, go out of your comfort zone, and be different. Use your creativity and uniqueness to set yourself and your company apart from others. Do not be afraid to go for it. The greatest creations were once just ideas. Yours could be next!
Frequently Asked Questions
Creativity is vital in business because it enables innovative problem-solving and helps companies find unique solutions to challenges. It also gives businesses a competitive edge and boosts productivity.
Creative thinking allows individuals to approach problems from different angles and generate innovative solutions. It helps in finding opportunities in challenging situations.
Yes, creative approaches can differentiate a business from its competitors. By using creative ideas in product development or service enhancement, a company can increase its profitability and attract new customers while retaining existing ones.
Yes, creativity can boost productivity by motivating employees to work on exciting and innovative projects. It also encourages feedback, helping workers improve and become more effective in their roles.
Sustaining creativity is crucial because some business tasks may become monotonous, but creativity is a valuable asset. It ensures continued innovation and adaptation, vital for a company’s growth and success.
You can develop a creative mindset by engaging in activities like walking in nature, broadening your knowledge through reading and learning, analyzing and researching ideas, and allowing yourself to be bored.
While creativity is valuable, there may be risks involved, such as the potential for ideas to fail or the need to invest resources in new, unproven ventures. However, taking calculated risks and learning from failures is an essential part of fostering creativity in business and driving innovation.
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The Power of Creative Problem Solving in Business Leadership
Updated: Oct 29
Harnessing Creativity for Sustainable Growth and Innovation
In a rapidly changing world, businesses face challenges that traditional problem-solving methods cannot address. Creative problem solving is a systematic approach that encourages innovative solutions by combining diverse methodologies, experiences, and thinking styles. It goes beyond "thinking out of the box"; it's about integrating multiple perspectives, challenging existing boundaries, and finding new avenues to address challenges. This method unites innovation, adaptability, and resilience—becoming essential in modern business leadership.
Creative Problem Solving: Business's New Normal
In our ever-shifting environment, creative problem solving is more than just a strategy; it's a vital tool for survival. This approach allows leaders to harness collaborative intelligence, pulling from varied skills, experiences, and perspectives, leading to more decadent ideas. Further, artificial intelligence and machine learning advancements have augmented our creative problem-solving capacities. A prime example is SpaceX, which transformed space travel by introducing reusable rockets.
Understanding the Creative Problem-Solving Process
Creative problem solving follows the steps:
Identify the problem and its root causes.
Generate ideas using various innovative methods.
Evaluate idea feasibility, effectiveness, and cost.
Prototype and test ideas, ensuring viability.
Implement the solution.
Analyse results and adjust as necessary.
Incorporating design thinking, an empathetic and iterative approach, can amplify this process, encouraging continuous learning and growth.
Why Businesses Need Creative Problem Solving
Utilising creative problem-solving strategies can:
Spark innovation, offering a competitive advantage.
Enhance decision-making, grounding leaders in insight.
Boost employee engagement and morale.
Increase customer satisfaction, loyalty, and retention.
LEGO's turnaround story epitomises these advantages. Facing financial strains, LEGO re-engaged with its core product by connecting with its enthusiast community, leading to regained trust and fiscal stability.
Learn how to innovate faster and more efficiently with prototyping
Navigating Ethical Considerations
While innovation brings benefits, leaders must also address ethical concerns. Balancing innovation with societal values, inclusivity, and social responsibility is paramount to establishing sustainable and inclusive businesses. We must ensure our innovations serve a greater purpose while remaining ethical.
The Evolving Landscape of Creative Problem Solving
The future for creative problem solving in business looks promising. Essential leadership qualities will soon include thinking out of the box and innovating continuously. Emerging technologies, like generative AI, ChatGPT, and devices like Apple Vision Pro, will further shape this domain. For instance, with its immersive environment, Apple Vision Pro offers an elevated brainstorming platform, while generative AI, as seen in ChatGPT, provides rapid idea generation and broad knowledge access.
Practical Tips for Enhancing Creative Problem Solving
To enhance your creative problem-solving skills:
Be open-minded and receptive to new ideas.
Encourage collaboration and diverse perspectives.
Use specialised tools to facilitate idea generation.
Remain persistent, valuing continuous learning and adaptability.
It's about finding unique solutions and fostering a mindset that champions continuous growth.
The role of creative problem solving in today's business landscape is monumental. By fostering innovative thinking and a culture of continuous evolution, leaders prepare businesses for future challenges and growth opportunities. Embracing creative problem-solving is the ticket to spearheading change in the business world. What innovative steps will you take today?
Ready to unlock the power of creative problem solving in your business? Take the lead in fostering a culture of innovation and out of the box thinking.
Book a 1:1 with us.
Lead Innovation with Our Creative Problem-Solving. Ready to shape the future? David Kolb Consultancy equips leaders with the skills and creative approaches needed to drive change. Let's craft a roadmap to evolve your business, empower your teams, and stay ahead of industry disruptions. Book your transformative leadership consultation now.
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What is Business Creativity: Unlocking Innovation and Growth in the Workplace
By: Author Paul Jenkins
Posted on June 12, 2023
Categories Creativity , Business
Business creativity is a vital aspect of the modern corporate world, as it drives innovation and enables organizations to stay ahead of their competitors.
Blending knowledge management and basic skills of creativity management, business creativity helps generate novel and valuable ideas that can lead to the development of new products, services, or processes and, ultimately, a company’s growth.
In today’s dynamic market environment, where change is constant, and consumer needs evolve rapidly, fostering business creativity has become crucial for organizations that aim to stay relevant and competitive. It involves identifying opportunities, challenging conventional thinking, and nurturing an environment encouraging experimentation and risk-taking.
The focus is not solely on the individual creative genius but also on an entire organization’s collaborative effort and collective intelligence.
Understanding Business Creativity
Creativity vs. innovation.
Business creativity and innovation may seem similar, but they have distinct differences. Creativity involves generating new ideas, concepts, or solutions that have value.
In a business context, this can mean developing new products, services, or strategies to enhance the organization. On the other hand, innovation is implementing and turning those creative ideas into tangible results.
This often entails refining, testing, and adapting creative ideas to meet the specific needs of the market or customers.
Understanding the distinction between these concepts is essential for businesses to harness their creative potential effectively. While creativity provides the initial spark, innovation is the driving force that ensures those ideas are actualized and generate value for the business.
Role of Creativity in Business
Business creativity plays a crucial role in several aspects of an organization:
- Product Development: A creative approach to product development helps businesses create unique, competitive offerings that cater to customer needs. Creativity allows businesses to think beyond conventional methods and develop innovative ideas that set them apart.
- Problem-Solving: Business creativity can be applied to solving complex challenges within a company. By encouraging and fostering creative thinking, companies can find new ways to overcome obstacles, streamline operations, and improve efficiency.
- Strategic Planning: Creatively-driven organizations often succeed by identifying novel opportunities and crafting strategies that leverage their unique strengths. A creative strategy helps businesses stay ahead of their competition and continuously adapt to changing market conditions.
- Company Culture: Fostering a creative culture within a company can have long-lasting positive effects on employee engagement, motivation, and collaboration. A healthy, creative work environment can enhance overall productivity and employee satisfaction.
In conclusion, understanding business creativity is crucial for organizations to unlock their full potential and drive innovation. By recognizing the importance of creativity in various aspects of a company, businesses can foster a culture that encourages creative thinking, problem-solving, and continuous growth.
Elements of Business Creativity
Creative processes play a key role in business creativity.
These processes involve generating, evaluating, and implementing new ideas and concepts to create innovative products, services, or solutions. The corporate creativity literature highlights the importance of having a structured process for fostering innovation in an organization.
Some crucial steps in the creative process include idea generation, selection, refinement, and execution.
Companies can use various techniques to support their creative processes, such as brainstorming, design thinking, and open innovation. These approaches help stimulate the flow of ideas and encourage out-of-the-box thinking.
A creative mindset is essential for nurturing business creativity. This involves encouraging an entrepreneurial spirit, fostering a culture of innovation, and empowering employees to take risks.
Organizations must provide an environment that supports their employees in developing new ideas and pursuing innovative solutions while being open to failure as a learning opportunity. Some ways to cultivate a creative mindset include:
- Encouraging curiosity and continuous learning
- Recognizing and rewarding creativity
- Supporting experimentation and risk-taking
Collaboration and Teamwork
Innovation is often a result of effective collaboration and teamwork.
Businesses must create an environment encouraging employee collaboration, as diverse perspectives can lead to more innovative products and solutions. Implementing cross-functional teams and providing tools and platforms to facilitate communication can help foster a collaborative culture. Some essential aspects of collaboration and teamwork in business creativity include:
- Encouraging open communication and idea sharing
- Empowering employees to contribute regardless of their background or expertise
- Fostering trust and psychological safety within teams
Observation and Experimentation
Observation and experimentation are crucial aspects of business creativity. Companies need to closely observe market trends, customer behavior, and competitors’ strategies to identify opportunities for innovation.
Taking inspiration from other industries and adopting an external perspective can help businesses identify creative solutions.
Experimentation involves testing new ideas and iterating rapidly based on feedback and results. Companies should be open to trying new approaches, conducting pilot projects, or running experiments in a low-risk environment to identify the most promising innovations.
This iterative process can produce more refined products and services that better meet customer needs and deliver value.
Driving Business Growth Through Creativity
Creating business opportunities.
In the competitive business world, creativity plays a vital role in discovering new organizational opportunities.
Companies that promote creativity among their employees often excel at generating innovative solutions to challenges faced in various industries. By identifying unique ways of meeting market needs, creative organizations can build a strong competitive advantage, better satisfying their customers’ demands and fostering growth.
Creative leaders drive their industry by introducing breakthrough products, offering novel services, and exploring untapped markets.
For instance, companies like Apple have gone beyond the traditional manufacturing sector by creating products that redefine consumer expectations, leading to tremendous business growth and value creation.
Fostering a Creative Culture
Establishing a creative culture within an organization encourages employees to think differently, pushing the boundaries of conventional problem-solving methods. Here are some ways to cultivate such a culture:
- Encourage collaboration: Create an environment where employees from diverse backgrounds and skill sets can collaborate, bringing in holistic perspectives and experiences.
- Provide resources: Provide employees access to the necessary resources, tools, and training to convert their creative ideas into tangible outcomes.
- Celebrate innovation: Recognize and reward creative efforts and accomplishments, motivating employees to continue pushing boundaries.
Encouraging Risk Taking
A core aspect of business creativity is embracing the unknown and taking calculated risks. By encouraging experimentation and risk-taking, companies provide an environment where employees feel empowered to explore innovative solutions.
Organizations that understand the inherent uncertainty of the market and are willing to embrace risk often lead the curve in introducing novel products, services, and solutions.
Failure is an inevitable part of the creative process, essential for learning and growth. By accepting the possibility of failure, companies can create a supportive environment that encourages creative thinking and problem-solving.
When organizations foster a culture that embraces failure as an opportunity to grow, they promote ongoing innovation and resilience. This mindset ultimately leads to greater adaptability and better positioning in the face of challenges and changing market conditions.
Leveraging Technology for Business Creativity
Virtual work and collaboration.
The rapid development of technology has enabled businesses to foster creativity and innovation in the workplace. One significant shift is the widespread adoption of virtual work and collaboration tools, which became especially crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Remote work has become more accessible due to communication and collaboration software advancements. Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Slack allow teams to connect and collaborate from anywhere.
This shift to virtual work has benefits in terms of productivity and efficiency. For instance, it has removed geographical barriers, allowing companies to tap into global talent pools. Additionally, flexible work arrangements can improve employee well-being and lead to higher levels of creativity and innovation.
Automation and Efficiency
Automation technology has also played a significant role in enhancing business creativity. By automating repetitive tasks, companies can allocate more time and resources to focusing on creative problem-solving and strategic thinking. For example, in health care, automation has streamlined administrative processes and improved patient care.
Increased efficiency from automation allows employees to focus on higher-value tasks, which can lead to innovative products and services.
At the same time, automation technologies can open up new markets and business opportunities, driving further innovation and growth.
Innovative Products and Services
Another example of leveraging technology for business creativity is the development of innovative products and services.
Take the Apple iPhone, which revolutionized the smartphone industry and transformed how people communicate and access information. By continuously investing in research and development, Apple has maintained its competitive edge and engaged users with new features and applications.
Innovative products and services not only help businesses stand out in the market, but they also drive industry progress. Companies that embrace emerging technologies can also foster a culture of innovation, as employees are encouraged to experiment with new ideas and adopt a forward-thinking mindset.
This approach can lead to breakthroughs and discoveries that propel businesses to new heights, solidifying their position as market leaders.
Creative Problem-Solving in Business Operations
Adapting business models.
Business creativity starts with solving problems in unique ways. In business operations, companies often experiment with new approaches to adapt their business models to meet shifting economic and market needs.
Entrepreneurs and managers must consider context, market demands, and financial constraints when transitioning.
Some strategies for adapting business models include:
- Diversification of product or service offerings
- Entering new markets or customer segments
- Expanding distribution channels
- Collaborating with industry partners
Pivoting Amid Obstacles
Unexpected challenges can arise in any business operation, requiring creative problem-solving for effective decision-making.
Pivoting is an important process in which an organization changes its direction, strategy, or product offerings to overcome obstacles and achieve growth. The ability to pivot is vital for maintaining engagement and remaining competitive in an ever-evolving marketplace.
Key aspects of successful pivoting include:
- Identifying new opportunities based on market trends or consumer behaviors
- Iterating and refining ideas to develop innovative solutions
- Leveraging strengths and resources to overcome barriers
- Agility and flexibility in transitioning to a new direction
Addressing Market Needs
Meeting market needs is at the core of any successful business. When addressing these needs, companies must focus on innovation-driven thinking and use creativity to develop strategies that resonate with their target audience.
These innovative approaches can involve combining existing ideas, improving existing products or services, or creating new offerings to address unique customer pain points.
An example of addressing market needs is the Forbes Business Council, which fosters collaboration and knowledge sharing among top executives.
By facilitating engagement and supporting innovative solutions, organizations can better anticipate market trends, cater to customer requirements, and ultimately succeed in their industry.
The Impact of Creativity on Marketing Strategies
Thinking outside the box.
In marketing, thinking outside the box means experimenting with innovative ideas rather than using conventional methods. For instance, adopting new technologies or experimenting with different channels can help marketers grab attention and reach more customers.
A creative person would leverage innovative thinking to discover unique marketing approaches to help their business stand out.
Engaging with Customers
Creative marketing strategies prioritize interactions that engage customers with a brand, impacting the success of the overall marketing effort. Brands can use creative storytelling to tap into customer emotions, thus forging a stronger connection.
The rise of Web 2.0 and social media provides a platform for businesses to foster genuine customer interactions and showcase their personality.
Focusing on customer engagement will enable marketers to understand their audience better, refine their product offers, and develop more tailored marketing strategies.
Differentiating from Competitors
A key aim of creative marketing strategies is to differentiate a business from its competitors. Uniqueness can be achieved through various tactics, such as:
- Developing a distinct visual identity
- Highlighting the value proposition
- Utilizing innovative marketing channels
- Adopting customer-centric approaches
By embracing risky and unconventional ideas, companies can stand out in the market and boost their enterprise value. However, it is essential to balance innovation and feasibility, ensuring that creative marketing strategies align with the company’s objectives and capabilities.
Incorporating creativity into marketing strategies not only enhances a brand’s visibility but also fosters a culture of innovation.
Nurturing creative marketing skills improves customer interactions, encourages unique thinking, and helps businesses differentiate themselves from their competitors. Capable of significantly impacting a company’s success, creativity in marketing should be duly acknowledged and rewarded.
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Creative Problem Solving for Technologists
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Instructor: Adam Shostack
Are you trying to solve a problem that just won’t budge, or a problem that calls for a new way of thinking? You may want to try to apply your creative side to get a better idea of what’s really possible. In this course, instructor Adam Shostack shows you how to use actionable techniques to generate and develop strategies that make the world a better place.
Explore creative problem-solving strategies in engineering and technology using deliberate, iterative processes. Find out why framing the right question helps you land upon the best possible answer, no matter what’s at stake. Try out new tools along the way with exercises and practice challenges posed by Adam, discovering new tools to reframe your mindset, unlock better solutions, and get unexpected, more exciting, and more transformative results.