“Creativity” is often viewed as something vague and intangible that tends to just appear in people’s minds. However, the reality is that creative solutions are usually the result of a well defined problem solving process, as opposed to sudden inspiration that strikes from nowhere. So much so that a Creative Problem Solving process has been documented by some of the world’s most innovative brains. If this is a system that appeals to you there are seven key steps involved.
What’s the goal or problem?
The first step in the process is to identify the issue, objective or goal that has triggered the need for a creative solution. Key questions to ask here might be “what am I actually hoping to accomplish?” “Where will I be in six months?” “Is this an issue others have?” Establish a set of criteria that you want to use to evaluate any potential solutions you come up with, for example avoiding certain situations or limitations.
The next stage in creative problem solving is to put time and effort into learning more about the goal or issue. That may mean time spent researching online or asking family, friends or colleagues for input.
Define the creative challenge
This is usually in the form of “How can I/we…” followed by the goal or objective. For example, “How can I find a satisfying job that also covers my living expenses?” or “How can we develop products that meet a new consumer need at a lower cost?”
The process of idea generation
Idea generation – is what most people associate with creative thinking. However, the reality is that it’s actually only a single stage in the process. The best way to do this is to find a quiet space, either alone or with the team involved, and then set a target of 50 ideas. The purpose of this is to write down every single idea that comes to mind, without any judgment. Even if the idea doesn’t seem particularly sensible at first, add it to the list and keep going until you reach 50.
Going through your ideas
Once you have a list of 50 ideas take a break. Come back to the list after an hour – or a day – and then evaluate it against the criteria that you defined in Step 1. Do any of the solutions meet all of your criteria and, if not, which ones are the closest match?
Make a plan
The next key stage is to take the creativity you’ve generated and form it into some sort of plan of action. Start with where you are now and the objective you’re looking to get to. Then add in all the small and manageable steps that will be required to get you there.
The difference between great ideas and achieving goals is action – so, once you have a plan of action, get started straight away.
Creative problem solving can be incredibly effective in any situation, from personal issues to corporate strategy. If you’re looking for some fresh thinking it’s an approach that really works.
Our Creative Problem Solving course looks at the various problems that we face in our working lives.