Creative Problem Solving: Out-of-the-box Solutions to Everyday Problems

creative problem solvingCreative problem solving is a technique to approach a problem or address a challenge in an imaginative way; it helps us flex our minds, find path-breaking ideas and take suitable actions thereafter.

Often we come across a dead-end while trying to solve a problem at workplace or home; either our understanding of the issue is wrong or we fail to approach it correctly. To be an effective problem solver, you need to bring in creativity to travel from the current situation to the desired one. We often associate the word ‘creative’ with certain jobs like writing, painting, designing etc. or activities like solving puzzles and word games. Well actually, any process that involves finding new solutions and a new approach, instead of following a routine method or an established solution path, is a creative process. So, whether you are a student, a professional or a businessman, creativity helps in addressing several of our challenges in an innovative way. If you’d like to learn more about different approaches to creative problem solving, this course can help you. Alternative, just read on. We’ll take a look at the different aspects of the Creative Problem Solving (CPS) methodology and how we can use it to look for interesting, out-of-the-box solutions to our problems.

What is Creative Problem Solving?

Creative problem solving is a technique to approach a problem or address a challenge in an imaginative way. Most of the time, we block our minds from thinking differently and find it easy to follow a certain norm so as to find quick, easy-fix solutions. However, in the long run these shortcuts and conventional approaches do not prove to be effective. Creative problem solving tools help us flex our minds, redefine the problems we face, find path-breaking ideas and take suitable actions thereafter. It’s all about overcoming our mind’s conceptual blocks and finding multiple solutions to effectively solve a problem that we face. You can take our unique course designed to help you get over your mental blocks and transform your life, with creative problem soling. 

The Process

While creative problem solving is a structured approach, it gives users the flexibility to use it in innumerable ways for different kinds of situations. One classic example that demonstrates creative problem solving is the story of the Wright Brothers, who despite their several failures, learnt from their mistakes and overcame the challenges of wing shape and warping to make flying possible. They didn’t give up easily; instead they put in a lot of time into studying the problem and experimentation to finally build the first successful airplane.

Understanding the basic concepts of CPS is important in the overall adoption of this technique in our daily lives. Creative Problem Solving can be divided into three stages, involving the following 6 steps:

Explore the Challenge

1. Objective Finding

Identifying the goal or challenge and defining our desired output is the foundation to the CPS approach. Sometimes, we ignore certain important things about the problem or assume something to quickly solve it. This clouds our thinking process and we fail to look at the big picture. Defining the objective or goal gives a clear idea on the problem so that we can explore several solutions to it. This course on Goal Setting can show you how to set SMART goals to help achieve what you want.

2. Fact Finding

Gathering information on the problem and related data is crucial to understanding the problem. List down important details like who and what is involved, perceptions and assumptions, facts and feelings, opinions of interested parties etc. so that you can start forming ideas.

3. Problem Finding

From the gathered data and objective of the problem, find out the challenges that you might face and the various opportunities that exist inside of it. This helps you focus on the problem at hand; it’s very easy to divert from the objective and find answers to the wrong problems!

Generate Ideas

4. Idea Finding

It’s very easy to re-use a solution when we face a problem that we might have encountered before. Our mind comes across what we call as ‘conceptual blocks’ that consist of hurdles like constancy, commitment, compression and complacency. These stop us from thinking creatively and forming new ideas or concepts. Therefore, it’s very important to explore, brainstorm and find as many potential solutions as possible. If you find yourself stuck at any point, hop over to this course aptly called ‘The Idea Machine” to help rediscover your creativity.

Prepare for Action

5. Solution Finding

Once you’ve generated new ideas and listed down possible solutions, evaluate them to find out if they meet your criteria for success and whether they can be implemented. Improvise, strengthen and choose the best idea. Solutions should not only be creative but useful too! And sometimes, will power is the only solution. (Check out this course that shows you how to strengthen your will power, to achieve any life goal.)

6. Acceptance Finding

You have chosen the best possible solution that’s actionable and meets the success criteria. Now you need to plan your action steps by clearly defining responsibilities and finding the best way to use the resources at hand. You call for action needs to be understood by everyone involved in the problem solving process to make it an accepted solution.

Creative problem solving skills are built over time by way of practice and using it in our thinking and working process. You may start small by using one step at a time to understand its effectiveness; once CPS becomes embedded in your thought process, you will find the various benefits of this approach. CPS helps us achieve higher performance in our jobs, solve problems effectively and find new opportunities hidden in the very problems that we are trying to solve. For more insights into how to enhance your  creative thinking,  check out this course.

Creative thinking is embedded in various aspects of our lives; from problem solving to designing, marketing to business development or innovation to research. You’ll be amazed to know that history has several examples wherein creativity helped in the formation of revolutionary ideas and inventions.

One such example of a successful CPS process is Xerox’s invention of the ‘GlossMarks’ technology. Initially, the researchers focused on overcoming the challenge of ‘differential gloss’ by defining the problem as ‘remove gloss from prints and photocopies’. However, this didn’t help them find a solution. Soon after, the problem statement was redefined as ‘produce innovative products’ to give a big picture perspective. This approach helped them come out with an innovative solution that’s called ‘GlossMarks’, which is used to embed a unique image in a document to prevent counterfeiting.

Creative problem solving techniques are widely applied in several fields like marketing, business development, branding, designing, entrepreneurship etc. If you are a marketing professional or business development executive, then you must surely explore the uses of creative problem solving methodology for greater effectiveness and innovative ideas. Let’s take a peak into the several ways that creative thinking can be used in businesses across industry verticals.

Creative Marketing

Creative marketing is not just about coming up with revolutionary marketing ideas; it involves a careful understanding of the markets, the target audience preferences and the building the brand equity of your client’s product in the right way. Right from brand positioning, brand development to brand management, creative marketing helps you understand the client’s business, create product image in the market and come up with innovative campaigns. For example, this course shows you some creative guerrilla marketing strategies.

Skills Required

To succeed in creative marketing, you not only need to be creative but also have good judgement and market awareness. Here are a few basic skills that one must possess to be an effective creative marketing professional:

  • Good listening and lateral thinking skills
  • Ability to understand client needs and deliver suitable solutions
  • Good judgement and awareness of the markets
  • Ability to identify product differentiation, market segments and creating the right marketing mix
  • Strong concepts in effective marketing, advertising and branding

Creative marketing helps businesses develop a clear marketing strategy so that the right message is delivered to the customers in a compelling way. It helps you connect with your target customers effectively and deliver on your promises. If you need a prod, this course can help show you how to effectively listen to your customers.

Creative Training Techniques

Whether you are a trainer, designer or a project manager, you may have to impart training to your colleagues or team members to educate them on a new technology or develop new practices. Training sessions need to be designed in a creative way so that the audience finds it interesting and you’re able to deliver the message effectively. There are several creative training techniques that can be used in different situations. However, the basic principles remain same and need to address the following points:

  • Sessions should be interactive and hold the audience’s attention
  • Include practical examples and real-life stories to make it interesting
  • Build rapport with your audience and show confidence
  • Connect with the audience by way of powerful body language, Q&A sessions and other simple techniques to engage them

For an in-depth knowledge on how to create effective training sessions, take this course on Creative Training Techniques.

Creative Thinking for Entrepreneurs

If you are an entrepreneur looking to develop your business or network with potential clients, then creative thinking is the way to go. Formulating strategies and an effective business development plan is essential to the success of a start-up and creative thinking helps you do so. Often, entrepreneurs fear to take the road less traveled and end up with a series of ineffective decisions that hurts their business development. New ideas and fresh approaches are key to attract and retain customers, building long-lasting relations with them and increasing the visibility of your business.

Bringing a creative approach to problem solving and business development is necessary for a business to succeed in this competitive age. Apart from understanding your market and business goals, creative thinking helps you reflect internally on your strengths and weaknesses too. It helps you understand the areas that require strengthening, your business aptitude and marketing skills and equips you to generate new business ideas.

You will find several benefits of creative thinking in your business growth:

  • Helps you understand your key strengths and weaknesses
  • Addresses areas of improvement
  • Makes you aware of opportunities and threats
  • Gives you fresh approaches to attracting and retaining customers
  • Equips you to handle challenges like conflict and change management effectively
  • Helps you achieve inclusive growth, employee motivation and increased efficiencies
  • Helps you identify new business areas and expansion ideas

A successful entrepreneur looks at the big picture instead of focusing on the conventional methods of business development; this is where creative thinking comes in. Learn more on effective business development strategies in our advanced course on Business Development for Entrepreneurs and Creative Thinkers.

No matter which industry you work in or at what stage of your professional life you are currently in, inspire others around you to think creatively. Take the creative approach to problem solving by adopting ideas and techniques that are off the beaten path!