• Business Essentials
  • Leadership & Management
  • Credential of Leadership, Impact, and Management in Business (CLIMB)
  • Entrepreneurship & Innovation
  • *New* Marketing
  • Finance & Accounting
  • Business in Society
  • For Organizations
  • Support Portal
  • Media Coverage
  • Founding Donors
  • Leadership Team

how creative thinking helps in problem solving

  • Harvard Business School →
  • HBS Online →
  • Business Insights →

Business Insights

Harvard Business School Online's Business Insights Blog provides the career insights you need to achieve your goals and gain confidence in your business skills.

  • Career Development
  • Communication
  • Decision-Making
  • Earning Your MBA
  • Negotiation
  • News & Events
  • Productivity
  • Staff Spotlight
  • Student Profiles
  • Work-Life Balance
  • Alternative Investments
  • Business Analytics
  • Business Strategy
  • Design Thinking and Innovation
  • Digital Marketing Strategy
  • Disruptive Strategy
  • Economics for Managers
  • Entrepreneurship Essentials
  • Financial Accounting
  • Global Business
  • Launching Tech Ventures
  • Leadership Principles
  • Leadership, Ethics, and Corporate Accountability
  • Leading with Finance
  • Management Essentials
  • Negotiation Mastery
  • Organizational Leadership
  • Power and Influence for Positive Impact
  • Strategy Execution
  • Sustainable Business Strategy
  • Sustainable Investing

What Is Creative Problem-Solving & Why Is It Important?

Business team using creative problem-solving

  • 01 Feb 2022

One of the biggest hindrances to innovation is complacency—it can be more comfortable to do what you know than venture into the unknown. Business leaders can overcome this barrier by mobilizing creative team members and providing space to innovate.

There are several tools you can use to encourage creativity in the workplace. Creative problem-solving is one of them, which facilitates the development of innovative solutions to difficult problems.

Here’s an overview of creative problem-solving and why it’s important in business.

What Is Creative Problem-Solving?

Research is necessary when solving a problem. But there are situations where a problem’s specific cause is difficult to pinpoint. This can occur when there’s not enough time to narrow down the problem’s source or there are differing opinions about its root cause.

In such cases, you can use creative problem-solving , which allows you to explore potential solutions regardless of whether a problem has been defined.

Creative problem-solving is less structured than other innovation processes and encourages exploring open-ended solutions. It also focuses on developing new perspectives and fostering creativity in the workplace . Its benefits include:

  • Finding creative solutions to complex problems : User research can insufficiently illustrate a situation’s complexity. While other innovation processes rely on this information, creative problem-solving can yield solutions without it.
  • Adapting to change : Business is constantly changing, and business leaders need to adapt. Creative problem-solving helps overcome unforeseen challenges and find solutions to unconventional problems.
  • Fueling innovation and growth : In addition to solutions, creative problem-solving can spark innovative ideas that drive company growth. These ideas can lead to new product lines, services, or a modified operations structure that improves efficiency.

Design Thinking and Innovation | Uncover creative solutions to your business problems | Learn More

Creative problem-solving is traditionally based on the following key principles :

1. Balance Divergent and Convergent Thinking

Creative problem-solving uses two primary tools to find solutions: divergence and convergence. Divergence generates ideas in response to a problem, while convergence narrows them down to a shortlist. It balances these two practices and turns ideas into concrete solutions.

2. Reframe Problems as Questions

By framing problems as questions, you shift from focusing on obstacles to solutions. This provides the freedom to brainstorm potential ideas.

3. Defer Judgment of Ideas

When brainstorming, it can be natural to reject or accept ideas right away. Yet, immediate judgments interfere with the idea generation process. Even ideas that seem implausible can turn into outstanding innovations upon further exploration and development.

4. Focus on "Yes, And" Instead of "No, But"

Using negative words like "no" discourages creative thinking. Instead, use positive language to build and maintain an environment that fosters the development of creative and innovative ideas.

Creative Problem-Solving and Design Thinking

Whereas creative problem-solving facilitates developing innovative ideas through a less structured workflow, design thinking takes a far more organized approach.

Design thinking is a human-centered, solutions-based process that fosters the ideation and development of solutions. In the online course Design Thinking and Innovation , Harvard Business School Dean Srikant Datar leverages a four-phase framework to explain design thinking.

The four stages are:

The four stages of design thinking: clarify, ideate, develop, and implement

  • Clarify: The clarification stage allows you to empathize with the user and identify problems. Observations and insights are informed by thorough research. Findings are then reframed as problem statements or questions.
  • Ideate: Ideation is the process of coming up with innovative ideas. The divergence of ideas involved with creative problem-solving is a major focus.
  • Develop: In the development stage, ideas evolve into experiments and tests. Ideas converge and are explored through prototyping and open critique.
  • Implement: Implementation involves continuing to test and experiment to refine the solution and encourage its adoption.

Creative problem-solving primarily operates in the ideate phase of design thinking but can be applied to others. This is because design thinking is an iterative process that moves between the stages as ideas are generated and pursued. This is normal and encouraged, as innovation requires exploring multiple ideas.

Creative Problem-Solving Tools

While there are many useful tools in the creative problem-solving process, here are three you should know:

Creating a Problem Story

One way to innovate is by creating a story about a problem to understand how it affects users and what solutions best fit their needs. Here are the steps you need to take to use this tool properly.

1. Identify a UDP

Create a problem story to identify the undesired phenomena (UDP). For example, consider a company that produces printers that overheat. In this case, the UDP is "our printers overheat."

2. Move Forward in Time

To move forward in time, ask: “Why is this a problem?” For example, minor damage could be one result of the machines overheating. In more extreme cases, printers may catch fire. Don't be afraid to create multiple problem stories if you think of more than one UDP.

3. Move Backward in Time

To move backward in time, ask: “What caused this UDP?” If you can't identify the root problem, think about what typically causes the UDP to occur. For the overheating printers, overuse could be a cause.

Following the three-step framework above helps illustrate a clear problem story:

  • The printer is overused.
  • The printer overheats.
  • The printer breaks down.

You can extend the problem story in either direction if you think of additional cause-and-effect relationships.

4. Break the Chains

By this point, you’ll have multiple UDP storylines. Take two that are similar and focus on breaking the chains connecting them. This can be accomplished through inversion or neutralization.

  • Inversion: Inversion changes the relationship between two UDPs so the cause is the same but the effect is the opposite. For example, if the UDP is "the more X happens, the more likely Y is to happen," inversion changes the equation to "the more X happens, the less likely Y is to happen." Using the printer example, inversion would consider: "What if the more a printer is used, the less likely it’s going to overheat?" Innovation requires an open mind. Just because a solution initially seems unlikely doesn't mean it can't be pursued further or spark additional ideas.
  • Neutralization: Neutralization completely eliminates the cause-and-effect relationship between X and Y. This changes the above equation to "the more or less X happens has no effect on Y." In the case of the printers, neutralization would rephrase the relationship to "the more or less a printer is used has no effect on whether it overheats."

Even if creating a problem story doesn't provide a solution, it can offer useful context to users’ problems and additional ideas to be explored. Given that divergence is one of the fundamental practices of creative problem-solving, it’s a good idea to incorporate it into each tool you use.


Brainstorming is a tool that can be highly effective when guided by the iterative qualities of the design thinking process. It involves openly discussing and debating ideas and topics in a group setting. This facilitates idea generation and exploration as different team members consider the same concept from multiple perspectives.

Hosting brainstorming sessions can result in problems, such as groupthink or social loafing. To combat this, leverage a three-step brainstorming method involving divergence and convergence :

  • Have each group member come up with as many ideas as possible and write them down to ensure the brainstorming session is productive.
  • Continue the divergence of ideas by collectively sharing and exploring each idea as a group. The goal is to create a setting where new ideas are inspired by open discussion.
  • Begin the convergence of ideas by narrowing them down to a few explorable options. There’s no "right number of ideas." Don't be afraid to consider exploring all of them, as long as you have the resources to do so.

Alternate Worlds

The alternate worlds tool is an empathetic approach to creative problem-solving. It encourages you to consider how someone in another world would approach your situation.

For example, if you’re concerned that the printers you produce overheat and catch fire, consider how a different industry would approach the problem. How would an automotive expert solve it? How would a firefighter?

Be creative as you consider and research alternate worlds. The purpose is not to nail down a solution right away but to continue the ideation process through diverging and exploring ideas.

Which HBS Online Entrepreneurship and Innovation Course is Right for You? | Download Your Free Flowchart

Continue Developing Your Skills

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, marketer, or business leader, learning the ropes of design thinking can be an effective way to build your skills and foster creativity and innovation in any setting.

If you're ready to develop your design thinking and creative problem-solving skills, explore Design Thinking and Innovation , one of our online entrepreneurship and innovation courses. If you aren't sure which course is the right fit, download our free course flowchart to determine which best aligns with your goals.

how creative thinking helps in problem solving

About the Author


How it works

For Business

Join Mind Tools

Article • 10 min read

Creative Problem Solving

Finding innovative solutions to challenges.

By the Mind Tools Content Team

how creative thinking helps in problem solving

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. [1]

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. [2]

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." [3]

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

how creative thinking helps in problem solving

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.

Gather Data

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.

Formulate Questions

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.

Explore Ideas

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.

Formulate Solutions

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.

4. Implement

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. [4] Tim Hurson created The Productive Thinking Model , and Paul Reali developed CPS: Competencies Model. [5]

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. [6]

Creative Problem Solving (CPS) Infographic

See our infographic on Creative Problem Solving .

how creative thinking helps in 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.

[1] Entrepreneur (2012). James Dyson on Using Failure to Drive Success [online]. Available here . [Accessed May 27, 2022.]

[2] Creative Education Foundation (2015). The CPS Process [online]. Available here . [Accessed May 26, 2022.]

[3] Kaner, S. et al. (2014). 'Facilitator′s Guide to Participatory Decision–Making,' San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

[4] Puccio, G., Mance, M., and Murdock, M. (2011). 'Creative Leadership: Skils That Drive Change' (2nd Ed.), Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

[5] OmniSkills (2013). Creative Problem Solving [online]. Available here . [Accessed May 26, 2022].

[6] 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 .

You've accessed 1 of your 2 free resources.

Get unlimited access

Discover more content

What is problem solving.

Expert Interviews

The Power of Positive Deviance

Richard Pascale

Add comment

Comments (0)

Be the first to comment!

Sign-up to our newsletter

Subscribing to the Mind Tools newsletter will keep you up-to-date with our latest updates and newest resources.

Subscribe now

Business Skills

Personal Development

Leadership and Management

Most Popular

Newest Releases

Article aocqqad

What Is Psychological Capital?

Article ahmhg56

Thinking About Flexible Working

Mind Tools Store

About Mind Tools Content

Discover something new today

How to work effectively with consultants.

Get the Best Results from Independent Experts

What Is Strategy?

The Three Levels of Strategy

How Emotionally Intelligent Are You?

Boosting Your People Skills


What's Your Leadership Style?

Learn About the Strengths and Weaknesses of the Way You Like to Lead

Recommended for you

Collective genius: the art and practice of leading innovation.

Linda A. Hill, Greg Brandeau, Emily Truelove, and Kent Lineback

Book Insights

Oded Shenkar

Business Operations and Process Management

Strategy Tools

Customer Service

Business Ethics and Values

Handling Information and Data

Project Management

Knowledge Management

Self-Development and Goal Setting

Time Management

Presentation Skills

Learning Skills

Career Skills

Communication Skills

Negotiation, Persuasion and Influence

Working With Others

Difficult Conversations

Creativity Tools


Work-Life Balance

Stress Management and Wellbeing

Coaching and Mentoring

Change Management

Team Management

Managing Conflict

Delegation and Empowerment

Performance Management

Leadership Skills

Developing Your Team

Talent Management

Problem Solving

Decision Making

Module 5: Thinking and Analysis

Solving problems creatively, learning outcomes.

  • Describe the role of creative thinking skills in problem-solving

Problem-Solving with Creative Thinking

Creative problem-solving is a type of problem-solving. It involves searching for new and novel solutions to problems. Unlike critical thinking, which scrutinizes assumptions and uses reasoning, creative thinking is about generating alternative ideas—practices and solutions that are unique and effective. It’s about facing sometimes muddy and unclear problems and seeing how things can be done differently—how new solutions can be imagined. [1]

You have to remain open-minded, focus on your organizational skills, and learn to communicate your ideas well when you are using creative thinking to solve problems. If an employee at a café you own suggests serving breakfast in addition to the already-served lunch and dinner, keeping an open mind means thinking through the benefits of this new plan (e.g., potential new customers and increased profits) instead of merely focusing on the possible drawbacks (e.g., possible scheduling problems, added start-up costs, loss of lunch business). Implementing this plan would mean a new structure for buying, workers’ schedules and pay, and advertising, so you would have to organize all these component areas. And finally, you would need to communicate your ideas on how to make this new plan work not only to the staff who will work the new shift, but also to the public who frequent your café and the others you want to encourage to try your new hours.

We need creative solutions throughout the workplace—whether board room, emergency room, or classroom. It was no fluke that the 2001 revised Bloom’s cognitive taxonomy, originally developed in 1948, placed a new word at the apex— creating . That  creating is the highest level of thinking skills.

A diagram illustrates the revised version of Bloom’s Taxonomy by showing a comparison between “The Old Version” versus “The New Version.”

Bloom’s Taxonomy is an important learning theory used by psychologists, cognitive scientists, and educators to demonstrate levels of thinking. Many assessments and lessons you’ve seen during your schooling have likely been arranged with Bloom’s in mind. Researchers recently revised it to place creativity—invention—as the highest level

“Because we’ve always done it that way” is not a valid reason to not try a new approach. It may very well be that the old process is a very good way to do things, but it also may just be that the old, comfortable routine is not as effective and efficient as a new process could be.

The good news is that we can always improve upon our problem-solving and creative-thinking skills—even if we don’t consider ourselves to be artists or creative. The following information may surprise and encourage you!

  • Creative thinking (a companion to critical thinking) is an invaluable skill for college students. It’s important because it helps you look at problems and situations from a fresh perspective. Creative thinking is a way to develop novel or unorthodox solutions that do not depend wholly on past or current solutions. It’s a way of employing strategies to clear your mind so that your thoughts and ideas can transcend what appear to be the limitations of a problem. Creative thinking is a way of moving beyond barriers. [2]
  • As a creative thinker, you are curious, optimistic, and imaginative. You see problems as interesting opportunities, and you challenge assumptions and suspend judgment. You don’t give up easily. You work hard. [3]

Is this you? Even if you don’t yet see yourself as a competent creative thinker or problem-solver, you can learn solid skills and techniques to help you become one.

Creative Problem-Solving: Fiction and Facts

As you continue to develop your creative thinking skills, be alert to perceptions about creative thinking that could slow down progress. Remember that creative thinking and problem-solving are ways to transcend the limitations of a problem and see past barriers. It’s a way to think outside the box.

creative problem-solving: a practice that seeks new and novel solutions to problems, often by using imagination rather than linear reason


Improve this page Learn More

  • "Critical and Creative Thinking, MA." University of Massachusetts Boston . 2016. Web. 16 Feb 2016. ↵
  • Mumaw, Stefan. "Born This Way: Is Creativity Innate or Learned?" Peachpit. Pearson, 27 Dec 2012. Web. 16 Feb 2016. ↵
  • Harris, Robert. "Introduction to Creative Thinking." Virtual Salt. 2 Apr 2012. Web. 16 Feb 2016. ↵
  • Ibid. ↵
  • College Success. Authored by : Linda Bruce. Provided by : Lumen Learning. License : CC BY: Attribution
  • College Success. Authored by : Amy Baldwin. Provided by : OpenStax. Located at : https://openstax.org/books/college-success/pages/7-2-creative-thinking . License : CC BY: Attribution
  • Text adaptation. Authored by : Claire. Provided by : Ivy Tech. Located at : http://ivytech.edu/ . License : CC BY: Attribution

Footer Logo Lumen Waymaker

  • Starting a Business
  • Growing a Business
  • Business News
  • Science & Technology
  • Money & Finance
  • Green Entrepreneur
  • Subscribers For Subscribers
  • Store Entrepreneur Store
  • Spotlight Spotlight
  • United States
  • Asia Pacific
  • Middle East
  • South Africa

Copyright © 2023 Entrepreneur Media, LLC All rights reserved. Entrepreneur® and its related marks are registered trademarks of Entrepreneur Media LLC

Creativity Is Your Best Problem-Solving Tool -- Here's How to Harness It Your success as an entrepreneur is contingent on your ability to solve problems effectively, and one of the best tools you have for the job is your creativity.

By Timothy Carter • Sep 10, 2020

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Entrepreneurs are problem solvers at heart. Most businesses are designed to solve some kind of consumer problem; for example, you might sell a product that allows people to do something they'd otherwise be incapable of or sell a service that makes someone's life easier. And in the course of business leadership, you'll be responsible for solving a multitude of problems, from high-level challenges like how to become more profitable to low-level challenges like how to resolve an inter-employee conflict.

Related: Why Creativity is Key For The Post-Crisis Rebuild

Your success is contingent on your ability to solve problems effectively, and one of the best tools you have for the job is your creativity. But why is creativity so valuable in solving problems, and how can you make the best use of it?

Why creativity is your best problem-solving tool

Creativity is the ability to come up with original ideas. In other words, you can think in new ways, and come up with strategies that aren't conventional.

This is beneficial when problem solving for several reasons:

  • Novel strategy discovery (and differentiation). You know that differentiating your business is vital if you want to stand out in the industry. Sometimes, coming up with unique solutions to common problems is the only way to achieve that differentiation. Is there a way you can serve your customers in a way that none of your competitors can? Is there a novel strategy that nobody has utilized to improve profitability? Creativity helps you stumble upon these unique, undiscovered tactics.
  • Breaking past conventional barriers. Creativity is also important for breaking through conventional barriers to advancement. If you run into a complex problem that's always been solved a certain way, with a handful of disadvantages, you may be able to eliminate those disadvantages with a creative new approach.
  • Finding optimal solutions. Coming up with original ideas is also a way to get closer to "optimal" solutions. If you generate one or two basic ideas, you'll have limited options for how to move forward. Through creativity, you can generate five or six ideas, and you'll have a much better chance at improving upon your "first instinct" approaches.

Related: Joseph Gordon-Levitt Talks Creativity, Collaboration and Other Fun Ways to Not Go Totally Insane

How to harness creativity

Here's the big issue with creativity: You can't force it . There's no way to sit down and simply power through a creative brainstorming session. Instead, the most impressive creative breakthroughs tend to happen spontaneously, and when people least expect them.

That said, there are some strategies you can use to boost your creative potential and allow yourself to think in more dynamic ways.

  • Improve creativity in yourself and others. First, understand that you're not the only person on your team — and you're certainly not the only team member capable of coming up with creative ideas. You can easily boost your total creative potential by improving creativity in both yourself and the people around you. This means applying the same strategies to your team that you're applying to yourself and fostering an environment that both encourages and rewards creative thinking from employees.
  • Give yourself more time. One of the best steps you can take is to give yourself more time. This isn't always possible; sometimes, you'll need to make an immediate decision or act immediately to start resolving a problem. But if you have a few days to think about something, give yourself each of those days. More time means you'll think through more variables, and you'll have more time to naturally stumble upon a solution, which leads to our next point.
  • Get bored. Boredom has a negative connotation, but it's actually good for your mind . When we're bored, our minds aren't active, which means they can wander freely (and start connecting ideas in unique ways). This is why so many people claim to come up with great ideas in the shower, or while on a long drive; being bored helps you generate more creative concepts.
  • Talk to others. No matter how naturally creative you are, your mind is still going to be limited based on your current knowledge, perspectives and experiences. If you want to expand your creative horizons, you need to talk to other people who have different sets of knowledge, perspectives and experiences. See the world through their eyes and ask what they think about your current dilemmas; they may have valuable insights that can lead you to a new solution.
  • Stimulate yourself with creative work. It's also a good idea to creatively stimulate yourself with art and creative works from other people. Even simple measures, like hanging abstract art in your office or playing jazz music while you're working, can have a profound effect.
  • Take inspiration from outside the box. Finally, look for inspiration in unconventional places. If you're trying to solve a problem in your specific industry, you might look at businesses like yours, including current competitors and similar businesses that have existed in the past. However, it may be better to look at how companies in other industries have solved the problem; they may have a fundamentally different approach that opens your mind to new possibilities.

With these strategies, you'll start thinking more creatively as an entrepreneur. Over time, creative modes of thinking will become more natural to you and you'll be able to come up with more novel solutions to the challenges you face regularly. Keep improving to see even better results and start solving your business problems from entirely new angles.

Related: Embracing Your Creativity in Uncertain Times

Chief Revenue Officer of SEO.co

Editor's Pick Red Arrow

  • He Decided to Join the Marines on 9/11 and Deployed 3 Times. Now, the Leadership Tactics He Learned Are Helping Him Grow a Spooky Business .
  • Lock How to Make Up to $800 a Month for Visiting Local Businesses You Already Love: 'It's Just Become Part of My Routine'
  • When He Tried to Buy and Develop a Distressed Shopping Center in Baltimore, He Found an 80-Year-Old Legal Covenant That Banned Black Ownership. Here's What He Did Next .
  • Lock 76% of Teens Say They're 'Likely' to Start a Business — and Many of Them Cite This Polarizing Reason
  • What Will It Take to Build a Truly Ethical AI? These 3 Tips Can Help.
  • Lock I Meet With More Than 1,000 People Every Month. Here Are 5 Ways I Can Tell Immediately If I Want to Partner With Them .

Related Topics Red Arrow

Most popular red arrow, master the stage — 7 proven ways to stand out as a public speaker.

How to rise above within a saturated industry and have your voice be heard.

Woman Asks Starbucks Barista to Cut Sandwich in Half, Goes Viral For Hilarious Result: 'Perhaps Ask for a Plastic Knife'

The sandwich was, technically, cut in half.

4 Entrepreneurial Lessons We Learned from Oakley Sunglasses Founder

Jim Jannard's relentless pursuit of excellence reminds us that the spirit of innovation, determination, and responsibility can truly change the world.

How to Make Up to $800 a Month for Visiting Local Businesses You Already Love: 'It's Just Become Part of My Routine'

Using this app may be the closest thing to a true "passive income" side hustle.

'Some Folks Were in Tears Watching It Crumble': Mysterious Fire Destroys Historic WWII Blimp Hangar

The cause and origin of the fire is under investigation.

'Ridiculous but Awesome': Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop Gift Guide Includes a $400 Block of Cheese, $4.5 Million Florida Residence

The actress-turned-entrepreneur's gift guide is not for people on a budget.

Successfully copied link


Creative Thinking For Problem Solving

15 mei 2023

Creative Thinking – we need to be good at solving problems: At work, at home, while commuting… everywhere. Problems solving is what humans do. It’s how we got out of the caves and onto the Internet.

But how do we solve problems? It turns out that we use our capacity to think creatively. We take what we already know, can see or observe and we extrapolate, or imagine what might happen if we add new factors or change the existing factors.

That word imagine is critical. It is the word that tells you we are being creative when we solve problems.

Most humans will agree that they can solve problems. Some of us are better at it than others but we are comfortable with our ability to do this.

But only a small percentage of humans recognise themselves as creative.

This is a disconnect. A powerful disconnect. By claiming to NOT be creative, we limit our capacity to change or influence our environment. It means we must always react passively to change and problems that are thrust upon us.

The human ability to create has resulted in a world that is full of high-speed change: the internet, gadgets, software and ideas abound. Mostly, we feel on the back foot as we struggle to keep up and understand our fast-changing world.

In business this is a problem that has resulted in shorter life spans for big businesses, and regular upheavals as modern technology destroys old business models.

We all need to be more creative right now. From boardroom to shopfloor and beyond, we need to take charge of what is happening to us. Because when we do, we feel more fulfilled, happy and in control of our lives. And when we feel that way, we are more productive, healthy and dependable.

But can you just become more creative? I believe yes! As we have seen from the problem-solving example above, we use creativity every day. But it is so everyday, so natural, that we don’t perceive it for what it is. Creativity, according to most of us, is what artists and inventors and tech entrepreneurs do, not what we do.

But biologically, neurologically, it is the same thing. We follow the same process. I offer workshops and keynotes that demonstrate HOW creativity works and how to access yours. The workshops unpack the process, its key components and share tools and tricks that work… helping anyone to get more, better ideas, solve problems better and exercise more control over their own worlds by CREATING options and choices for themselves instead of waiting for them to emerge.

Businesses and employers tend to approach creativity as something people either have or do not have and employ accordingly. BUT if they were able to unleash the creative potential of everyone in a business… the wealth of intellectual property, new solutions, better ideas, new processes and overall improvement that would emerge would be revolutionary… simply by setting everyone in the business free to be their creative selves.

Does this sound like magic to you? Well, it’s not, it’s the exact opposite

If you’re intrigued, set up an intake call with us and let’s discover how activating the creativity in yourself, your team or your business can help you.

David Chislett, senior trainer zakelijk Engels

Bent u nieuwsgierig geworden naar wat wij doen en wilt u meer informatie? Neem dan vrijblijvend contact op met ons op of vraag eenvoudig online een offerte aan.

  • Membership card
  • Partnership
  • Voluntary activity

how creative thinking helps in problem solving

Creative Problem-Solving and Critical Thinking: Unleashing the Power of the Mind

how creative thinking helps in problem solving

Introduction In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing world, the ability to think critically and solve problems creatively has become increasingly valuable. These skills enable individuals and organizations to navigate complex challenges, adapt to new situations, and find innovative solutions that drive progress and success. In this article, we will explore the concepts of creative problem-solving and critical thinking, discuss their importance in various domains, and provide practical tips for cultivating these essential mental abilities.

  • Creative Problem-Solving: Turning Challenges into Opportunities Creative problem-solving is the process of generating novel and effective solutions to complex or ill-defined problems. This skill involves thinking outside the box, challenging assumptions, and looking at situations from multiple perspectives. Creative problem-solving is crucial for individuals and organizations to overcome obstacles, seize opportunities, and achieve their goals. Some key techniques for fostering creative problem-solving include:
  • Brainstorming: Encourage free-flowing idea generation without judgment or limitations.
  • Mind Mapping: Visually represent ideas and connections to encourage creative associations and organization of thoughts.
  • SCAMPER Technique: Modify existing ideas or solutions by applying actions such as Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Put to another use, Eliminate, or Reverse.
  • Lateral Thinking: Generate unconventional ideas by exploring alternative approaches and questioning traditional assumptions.
  • Critical Thinking: Assessing Information and Making Informed Decision Critical thinking is the ability to objectively analyze and evaluate information, arguments, or situations to make well-informed decisions or judgments. This skill requires the systematic questioning of assumptions, identification of biases, and consideration of evidence from multiple sources. Critical thinking is essential for navigating the increasingly complex and information-rich world we live in, as it enables individuals to discern fact from fiction, assess risks and opportunities, and make sound choices. Some practical strategies for enhancing critical thinking include:
  • Questioning Assumptions: Examine the underlying assumptions behind arguments or decisions and consider their validity.
  • Evaluating Evidence: Assess the credibility, relevance, and reliability of information or data from various sources.
  • Identifying Biases: Recognize personal and external biases that may influence judgment and strive for objectivity.
  • Considering Alternatives: Explore different perspectives and viewpoints to gain a comprehensive understanding of the situation.
  • Cultivating Creative Problem-Solving and Critical Thinking Skills Developing creative problem-solving and critical thinking skills requires intentional practice and a commitment to continuous learning. Some practical tips for fostering these abilities include:
  • Embrace Curiosity: Cultivate a sense of curiosity by asking questions, seeking new experiences, and exploring unfamiliar topics.
  • Practice Active Listening: Develop the habit of actively listening to others, absorbing their perspectives, and engaging in thoughtful discussions.
  • Reflect on Your Thinking: Regularly assess your thought processes, identify patterns or biases, and strive for improvement.
  • Collaborate with Others: Engage in teamwork and collaboration to gain diverse perspectives, challenge your ideas, and stimulate creative thinking.
  • Stay Informed: Keep up-to-date with current events, research, and developments in your field to broaden your knowledge and sharpen your critical thinking skills.

Conclusion Creative problem-solving and critical thinking are powerful tools that enable individuals and organizations to overcome challenges, adapt to change, and find innovative solutions in an increasingly complex world. By cultivating these essential skills, individuals can enhance their personal and professional lives, while organizations can foster a culture of innovation, resilience, and continuous improvement. Embrace the power of the mind and unlock the potential for growth, success, and positive change.


how creative thinking helps in problem solving

Technology and Innovation Trends: Shaping the Future of Our World

how creative thinking helps in problem solving

Design Thinking: A Human-Centered Approach to Innovation and Problem Solving

how creative thinking helps in problem solving

Intellectual Property Basics: Protecting Your Ideas and Creations

how creative thinking helps in problem solving

Entrepreneurship and Business Skills: Laying the Foundation for Success

how creative thinking helps in problem solving

The Innovation Process: Turning Ideas into Reality

No comments, leave a reply cancel reply.

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

Explore more

How it works

Transform your enterprise with the scalable mindsets, skills, & behavior change that drive performance.

Explore how BetterUp connects to your core business systems.

Build leaders that accelerate team performance and engagement.

Unlock performance potential at scale with AI-powered curated growth journeys.

Build resilience, well-being and agility to drive performance across your entire enterprise.

Transform your business, starting with your sales leaders.

Unlock business impact from the top with executive coaching.

Foster a culture of inclusion and belonging.

Accelerate the performance and potential of your agencies and employees.

See how innovative organizations use BetterUp to build a thriving workforce.

Discover how BetterUp measurably impacts key business outcomes for organizations like yours.

A demo is the first step to transforming your business. Meet with us to develop a plan for attaining your goals.

Request a demo

  • For Individuals

Best practices, research, and tools to fuel individual and business growth.

View on-demand BetterUp events and learn about upcoming live discussions.

The latest insights and ideas for building a high-performing workplace.

  • BetterUp Briefing

The online magazine that helps you understand tomorrow's workforce trends, today.

Innovative research featured in peer-reviewed journals, press, and more.

We're on a mission to help everyone live with clarity, purpose, and passion.

Join us and create impactful change.

Read the buzz about BetterUp.

Meet the leadership that's passionate about empowering your workforce.

Find your Coach

For Business

What is creative thinking and why does it matter?

Understand Yourself Better:

Big 5 Personality Test

Find my Coach

Jump to section

What is creative thinking?

Types of creative thinking, why is creative thinking important, how creative thinking works, what are some examples of creative thinking, the benefits of creative thinking, how to make your thinking process more creative, start fostering your creative thinking skills.

Few things feel better than a stroke of creative genius. A new creative idea can make you feel brilliant and unstoppable.

But, when the great ideas stop flowing, it’s easy to get discouraged and declare that you’re just not a creative thinker.

Many people believe that creative thinking is something that strikes at random. In reality, there are many ways to use creative problem-solving every day, even if you don’t think you have innate creativity. While thinking creatively isn’t difficult, it does take practice. 

Building your creative skills is the key to innovation. But where do you start?

In this article, we’ll cover what creative thinking is, how it works, and how to strengthen your creative skill.


Creative thinking may feel like a superpower reserved only for a “creative person.” Thankfully, creative geniuses aren’t the only ones who can have innovative ideas. 

At its core, creative thinking is intentionally gaining new insights and different ideas through existing information.

Often, creative thought involves tapping into different styles of thinking and examining information from different viewpoints to see new patterns. Anyone can foster a creative mind with some practice!

how much time employees have to think creatively and discuss new ideas

Using a wide variety of brainstorming strategies can help you discover new solutions for issues in every area of your life, including at work.

In fact, 61% of employees say they’re expected to come up with creative ideas or new ways to do things at work. But, with only 30% of employees saying they’re given time to think or discuss new ideas daily, it’s becoming increasingly important to develop our creative thinking muscles.

Sign up to receive the latest content, tools, and resources from BetterUp

Thank you for your interest in BetterUp.

Fostering creative thinking starts with changing your perspective. Learning new and different styles of thinking can help give birth to powerful idea generation. 

Aesthetic thinking, divergent thinking, lateral thinking, convergent thinking, and inspirational thinking are five types of innovative thinking to get the ball rolling.

types of creative thinking

( Image source )

Divergent and convergent thinking are the most common ways to foster more creative thought. 

Divergent thinking is like a traditional brainstorming session, where you come up with as many possible solutions as your imagination will allow. 

Meanwhile, convergent thinking takes a more logical approach, encouraging you to gather facts and discover the most common solution to a problem. These strategies are frequently used together to conjure new creative solutions.

Inspirational thinking focuses on imagining the best-case scenarios to find a new way to solve a problem, while lateral thinking involves letting ideas flow in a step-by-step format. 

Aesthetic thinking focuses on reframing the problem to see its inherent beauty and value, like looking at a painting.

It’s easy to get stuck in the same thought patterns, especially at work. However, those thought patterns may be hampering your innovation and keeping you stuck in routines that don’t serve you. 

Creative thinking shows us that there are many solutions to any problem, and developing your creative thinking skills helps you recognize innovative solutions more quickly. 

Plus, creativity was the most sought-after soft skill in 2020, so strengthening your creativity skills can set you apart at work, too.

Alongside critical thinking and focus , creative thinking is crucial to help recognize patterns that may not be obvious at first glance. Thinking creatively makes you a better problem-solver, which has far-reaching benefits in both your work and personal life.

Expressive, creative thinking helps us challenge our own assumptions, discover new things about ourselves and our perspective, stay mentally sharp, and even be more optimistic .

Many business leaders see creativity and innovation as something unpredictable, with 53% of businesses reporting that innovation occurs by chance. However, with the right tools, you can tap into creative thinking whenever you want.

how creative thinking works

There are many ways to get your creative juices flowing, and practicing creative thinking strategies can help you think outside the box more readily and more often. 

Creative thinking works by igniting our curiosity. Getting curious about a problem looks different for various industries.

A go-to example for creative thinking may be the advertising executive coming up with creative campaigns by brainstorming with divergent thinking. However, that’s far from the only way to use creative thinking. 

In STEM industries like biomedicine, stimulating creativity by asking open-ended questions and creating fictional scenarios helps professionals find innovative solutions to health problems. 

These questions encourage medical professionals to experiment and discover new ways of solving a persistent problem. 

Through creative thinking, professionals in any field can discover unique answers to pressing problems.

Ready to take your leaders to the next level? Try a demo of BetterUp.

Creative thinking is valuable in many situations, not just traditionally creative industries. Whether you’re solving a problem, organizing your calendar, or at an impasse with your team, creative thinking can come in handy.

One way creative thinking is valuable is for identifying the right problem . 

Using divergent thinking strategies can help you examine a problem from every angle and identify the true root of the issue. 

Once you’ve found the root problem, you can use lateral thinking or convergent thinking to discover new solutions that may not have been available to you before.

Adding constraints , like a timeline or budget for your project, can also help you guide a creative thinking session. 

For example, you could brainstorm how you'd handle a particular problem if your existing budget was cut in half. Constraints can help spur unique ideas you may have missed.

Creative thinking doesn’t just make you a better employee; it also makes you a better parent, student, and leader, too. By developing your creative thinking skills, the benefits of thinking creatively can show up throughout your daily life.

benefits of creative thinking

Here are a few major benefits of creative thinking.

Improved problem-solving capabilities

We don’t just solve problems at work, and we shouldn’t only use our creative thinking skills at work, either! Developing your creative thinking abilities can help you solve a wide variety of problems faster. 

As your mind becomes more accustomed to using different thought techniques, you’ll quickly recognize patterns that you might not have before.

Stronger interpersonal connections

Creative thinking can help you communicate your ideas more clearly, which leads to better conversations and relationships with your friends, family, and coworkers. 

Plus, many creative thinking methods work best when they’re done in a group. Developing new ideas together can strengthen bonds and help you combine ideas to create something truly innovative.

Heightened productivity

It may seem like creative thinking is a time-consuming distraction from your work, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. 

When we get stuck in thought patterns, it’s easy to get frustrated when something isn’t working correctly. That frustration can cause our productivity to plummet. 

Taking a moment and engaging in a creative thinking strategy can renew your motivation, reinvigorate your passion, and help you find new solutions when you’re stuck. 

Higher self-awareness

Creative thinking allows you to try on perspectives that you may not have considered before. 

As you’re exploring new perspectives, you may discover something about your own assumptions, viewpoints, or biases that you never noticed. 

Challenging your traditional way of thinking can offer higher self-awareness and build your emotional intelligence. With creative thinking, you strengthen your ability to reframe your perspective and harness a growth mindset.

Ready to unlock the potential in your organization?

Find out how

Now that we see how important creative thinking skills are, building our creative capabilities is the next step to reap the benefits. 

There are many ways to encourage more creative thinking in your daily life. While practicing different thinking strategies and brainstorming with your team at work help to develop these skills, they’re far from the only way to foster a more creative thought process. 

One powerful way to get your creativity flowing is to meet new people, especially if they’re in the arts or in a different industry from you. Sharing your interests and listening to others can inspire you to view the world differently. 

Practicing boredom can help you develop your creativity, too. Allowing yourself to become bored and seeing what pulls your interest can help you practice letting your curiosity lead the way. 

Another tactic is to ask questions about everything that piques your interest, and come up with possible answers before you look up the actual answer.

developing creativity within company walls

Coaching can also help you hone your creative thinking. 

In fact, 71% of employers see managerial coaching as helpful for creative development. When you’re feeling distracted or uninspired, coaching can refocus your attention and help you get curious about your experience.

Breaking away from your normal routine and trying something new is the key to fostering creative thinking in your daily life.


Stay up to date with new resources and insights.

Thinking more creatively can take effort, but a little practice can offer a ton of benefits. Honing your skills to recognize patterns and find solutions shifts your perspective and offers a new vantage point for you to explore. 

Not only can creative thinking improve your performance at work, but it can also improve every other area of your life too. 

Coaching is a powerful tool to help foster your creativity skills. Are you ready to become more innovative? 

Start working with a dedicated coach today to develop your own creative thinking skills.

Maggie Wooll

Thought Leader

What is lateral thinking? 7 techniques to encourage creative ideas

8 creative solutions to your most challenging problems, why creativity isn't just for creatives and how to find it anywhere, how to develop critical thinking skills, how to improve your creative skills for effective problem-solving, 43% of us don’t feel connected at work. here's what to do about it., thinking outside the box: 8 ways to become a creative problem solver, from crisis to creativity, entrepreneurial mindset: what is it & how to think like an entrepreneur, similar articles, what is cognitive flexibility, and why does it matter, all-or-nothing thinking: 3 ways to stop throwing in the towel, what’s convergent thinking how to be a better problem-solver, stay connected with betterup, get our newsletter, event invites, plus product insights and research..

3100 E 5th Street, Suite 350 Austin, TX 78702

  • Platform Overview
  • Integrations
  • BetterUp Lead
  • BetterUp Manage™
  • BetterUp Care™
  • Sales Performance
  • Diversity & Inclusion
  • Case Studies
  • Why BetterUp?
  • News and Press
  • Leadership Team
  • Become a BetterUp Coach
  • BetterUp Labs
  • Leadership Training
  • Business Coaching
  • Contact Support
  • Contact Sales
  • Privacy Policy
  • Acceptable Use Policy
  • Trust & Security
  • Cookie Preferences


  1. Creative Problem Solving

    how creative thinking helps in problem solving

  2. Creative Problem Solving

    how creative thinking helps in problem solving

  3. What Is Creative Problem-Solving and How to Master It with These 8

    how creative thinking helps in problem solving

  4. Training Creative Problem Solving with The Coconut Principles

    how creative thinking helps in problem solving

  5. 20 Strategies for Creative Problem Solving / AvaxHome

    how creative thinking helps in problem solving

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

    how creative thinking helps in problem solving


  1. Engaging Mind Creatively Is The Right Approach For Learning and Applying Skills for Bright Future

  2. 🌞 SOLAR SYSTEM ☀️#trending#youtubeshorts #school @borntoshine1768

  3. Explore this channel for full version #creativity #innovation #creativethinking #creativethinkers


  5. Problem solving brain wiring

  6. positive thinking helps you to be happy and successful. #bengali #motivation #fact #viral #shorts


  1. Thinking Outside the Box: Creative Approaches to Solve Math Problems

    Mathematics can often be seen as a daunting subject, full of complex formulas and equations. Many students find themselves struggling to solve math problems and feeling overwhelmed by the challenges they face.

  2. A Step-by-Step Guide to Solving Any Math Problem

    Mathematics can be a challenging subject for many students. From basic arithmetic to complex calculus, solving math problems requires logical thinking and problem-solving skills. However, with the right approach and a step-by-step guide, yo...

  3. What Are Some Examples of Critical Thinking?

    Examples of critical thinking include observing, analyzing, discriminating and predicting. Critical thinkers solve problems through observation, data gathering, and reasoning. Other examples of critical thinking are applying standards and s...

  4. What Is Creative Problem-Solving & Why Is It Important?

    Balance Divergent and Convergent Thinking ... Creative problem-solving uses two primary tools to find solutions: divergence and convergence.

  5. Creative Problem Solving

    Creative problem solving (CPS) is a way of solving problems or identifying opportunities when conventional thinking has failed. It encourages you to find

  6. Solving Problems Creatively

    Creative thinking (a companion to critical thinking) is an invaluable skill for college students. It's important because it helps you look at problems and

  7. The basics of creative problem solving (with guidelines)

    Creative problem-solving is a process that professionals use to find unique solutions to a problem by identifying and then suggesting several

  8. 10 Ways To Improve Your Creative Problem-Solving Skills

    Creative problem-solving is an approach that identifies unique solutions to issues through a process of problem identification and resolution

  9. Creativity Is Your Best Problem-Solving Tool

    Why creativity is your best problem-solving tool. Creativity is the ability to come up with original ideas. In other words, you can think in new

  10. Improving Problem Solving through Creative Thinking

    Creativity is a fascinating subject. I became intrigued with it many years ago and found that learning the principles of creative thinking helped undergraduate

  11. Creative Thinking For Problem Solving

    The workshops unpack the process, its key components and share tools and tricks that work… helping anyone to get more, better ideas, solve problems better and

  12. Creative Problem-Solving and Critical Thinking: Unleashing ...

    Creative problem-solving and critical thinking are powerful tools that enable individuals and organizations to overcome challenges, adapt to change, and find

  13. 10 Creative Skills for Problem-Solving and How to Improve Them

    Creative thinking is the key to unlocking innovation and problem-solving excellence. ... These creative skill examples can help you thrive inside

  14. What Is Creative Thinking and Why Does It Matter?

    Thinking creatively makes you a better problem-solver, which has far-reaching benefits in both your work and personal life. Expressive, creative