• 6.2 Creative Problem-Solving Process
  • Introduction
  • 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/.

Learning Objectives

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.

Crowdsourcing

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

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

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

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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steps in problem solving creative process

Creative Problem-Solving Approach: Skills, Framework, 3 Real-life Examples

What is creative problem-solving, creative problem-solving framework, 3 real-life examples of creative problem solving:, skills to develop for creative problem-solving.

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creative problem-solving framework

  • Clarify and Identify the Problem:  The first step is clearly defining and understanding the problem you are trying to solve. Ask questions to determine the root cause of the problem and identify any underlying issues that may be contributing to it.
  • Generate Ideas:  In this step, you must generate as many ideas as possible without constraints or judgment. Brainstorming is a valuable technique to use here. Encourage everyone to contribute ideas and build on each other’s ideas.
  • Evaluate Ideas:  Once you have generated a list of ideas, it’s time to evaluate them. Look for the most promising ideas with the most significant potential to solve the problem. Evaluate the ideas against criteria such as feasibility, impact, and cost.
  • Develop Solutions:  Now, it’s time to develop solutions based on the best ideas. Combine, refine, or modify the ideas to create a solution that meets the criteria identified in the previous step. Test the solution with a small group to see how it works.
  • Implement and Evaluate:  The final step is implementing the solution and evaluating its effectiveness. Monitor the solution to ensure it works as intended and make any necessary adjustments.
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  • Netflix:  The company revolutionized how we watch TV shows and movies. However, when the company started, it faced a big challenge – getting people to watch their content when they were not a well-known brand. Instead of relying on traditional advertising, Netflix used creative problem-solving to develop a unique solution. They created an algorithm recommending TV shows and movies based on a user’s viewing history, leading to a highly personalized viewing experience. This recommendation engine became a critical factor in the company’s success, helping them attract and retain customers.
  • NASA:  NASA had to devise an instant solution to save the Apollo 13 mission and their team. Their spacecraft was damaged, and they needed a solution to bring their astronauts safely back to Earth. The team fitted a square CO2 filter into a round hole using available materials on the spacecraft; the team used creative problem-solving to develop this approach. This innovative solution allowed the astronauts to return safely to Earth and set this incident as a classic creative solving example.
  • IKEA:  IKEA makes stylish and affordable furniture and is a well-versed company. However, they faced significant challenges entering the Japanese market. Japanese apartments are comparatively smaller than the rest of the world, so the regular product range was irrelevant to Japanese customers. So, IKEA used creative problem-solving to develop a solution appealing to the Japanese market. They launched a variety of products specially created for smaller spaces that are easy to assemble and disassemble—they also introduced a range of futons designed to look like beds, appealing to Japanese customers who prefer sleeping on the floor. This innovative and creative approach helped IKEA successfully enter the Japanese market.

steps in problem solving creative process

  • Flexibility:  Being able to adapt to changing circumstances and consider multiple perspectives.
  • Open-mindedness:  Being open to new ideas and willing to challenge assumptions.
  • Curiosity:  Seek more information by questioning and better understanding the problem.
  • Persistence:  If a solution does not work, apply another solution, but continue until the problem is solved.
  • Divergent thinking:  Generating multiple ideas and exploring different possibilities.
  • Convergent thinking:  Evaluating and selecting the best ideas based on specific criteria.
  • Visualization:  Using mental imagery to explore solutions and ideas.
  • Collaboration:  Working with others to combine different perspectives and knowledge.
  • Risk-taking:  Being willing to take calculated risks and try new approaches.
  • Innovation:  Combining ideas and approaches in novel ways to create new solutions.

Evaluate your problem-solving skills for free now

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steps in problem solving creative process

creative problem solving

How You Can Use Creative Problem Solving at Work

Lucid Content

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.

creative problem solving process overview

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.

CPS techniques

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.

mind map

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.

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How to Be a More Creative Problem-Solver at Work: 8 Tips

Business professionals using creative problem-solving at work

  • 01 Mar 2022

The importance of creativity in the workplace—particularly when problem-solving—is undeniable. Business leaders can’t approach new problems with old solutions and expect the same result.

This is where innovation-based processes need to guide problem-solving. Here’s an overview of what creative problem-solving is, along with tips on how to use it in conjunction with design thinking.

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What Is Creative Problem-Solving?

Encountering problems with no clear cause can be frustrating. This occurs when there’s disagreement around a defined problem or research yields unclear results. In such situations, creative problem-solving helps develop solutions, despite a lack of clarity.

While creative problem-solving is less structured than other forms of innovation, it encourages exploring open-ended ideas and shifting perspectives—thereby fostering innovation and easier adaptation in the workplace. It also works best when paired with other innovation-based processes, such as design thinking .

Creative Problem-Solving and Design Thinking

Design thinking is a solutions-based mentality that encourages innovation and problem-solving. It’s guided by an iterative process that Harvard Business School Dean Srikant Datar outlines in four stages in the online course Design Thinking and Innovation :

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

  • Clarify: This stage involves researching a problem through empathic observation and insights.
  • Ideate: This stage focuses on generating ideas and asking open-ended questions based on observations made during the clarification stage.
  • Develop: The development stage involves exploring possible solutions based on the ideas you generate. Experimentation and prototyping are both encouraged.
  • Implement: The final stage is a culmination of the previous three. It involves finalizing a solution’s development and communicating its value to stakeholders.

Although user research is an essential first step in the design thinking process, there are times when it can’t identify a problem’s root cause. Creative problem-solving addresses this challenge by promoting the development of new perspectives.

Leveraging tools like design thinking and creativity at work can further your problem-solving abilities. Here are eight tips for doing so.

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

8 Creative Problem-Solving Tips

1. empathize with your audience.

A fundamental practice of design thinking’s clarify stage is empathy. Understanding your target audience can help you find creative and relevant solutions for their pain points through observing them and asking questions.

Practice empathy by paying attention to others’ needs and avoiding personal comparisons. The more you understand your audience, the more effective your solutions will be.

2. Reframe Problems as Questions

If a problem is difficult to define, reframe it as a question rather than a statement. For example, instead of saying, "The problem is," try framing around a question like, "How might we?" Think creatively by shifting your focus from the problem to potential solutions.

Consider this hypothetical case study: You’re the owner of a local coffee shop trying to fill your tip jar. Approaching the situation with a problem-focused mindset frames this as: "We need to find a way to get customers to tip more." If you reframe this as a question, however, you can explore: "How might we make it easier for customers to tip?" When you shift your focus from the shop to the customer, you empathize with your audience. You can take this train of thought one step further and consider questions such as: "How might we provide a tipping method for customers who don't carry cash?"

Whether you work at a coffee shop, a startup, or a Fortune 500 company, reframing can help surface creative solutions to problems that are difficult to define.

3. Defer Judgment of Ideas

If you encounter an idea that seems outlandish or unreasonable, a natural response would be to reject it. This instant judgment impedes creativity. Even if ideas seem implausible, they can play a huge part in ideation. It's important to permit the exploration of original ideas.

While judgment can be perceived as negative, it’s crucial to avoid accepting ideas too quickly. If you love an idea, don’t immediately pursue it. Give equal consideration to each proposal and build on different concepts instead of acting on them immediately.

4. Overcome Cognitive Fixedness

Cognitive fixedness is a state of mind that prevents you from recognizing a situation’s alternative solutions or interpretations instead of considering every situation through the lens of past experiences.

Although it's efficient in the short-term, cognitive fixedness interferes with creative thinking because it prevents you from approaching situations unbiased. It's important to be aware of this tendency so you can avoid it.

5. Balance Divergent and Convergent Thinking

One of the key principles of creative problem-solving is the balance of divergent and convergent thinking. Divergent thinking is the process of brainstorming multiple ideas without limitation; open-ended creativity is encouraged. It’s an effective tool for generating ideas, but not every idea can be explored. Divergent thinking eventually needs to be grounded in reality.

Convergent thinking, on the other hand, is the process of narrowing ideas down into a few options. While converging ideas too quickly stifles creativity, it’s an important step that bridges the gap between ideation and development. It's important to strike a healthy balance between both to allow for the ideation and exploration of creative ideas.

6. Use Creative Tools

Using creative tools is another way to foster innovation. Without a clear cause for a problem, such tools can help you avoid cognitive fixedness and abrupt decision-making. Here are several examples:

Problem Stories

Creating a problem story requires identifying undesired phenomena (UDP) and taking note of events that precede and result from them. The goal is to reframe the situations to visualize their cause and effect.

To start, identify a UDP. Then, discover what events led to it. Observe and ask questions of your consumer base to determine the UDP’s cause.

Next, identify why the UDP is a problem. What effect does the UDP have that necessitates changing the status quo? It's helpful to visualize each event in boxes adjacent to one another when answering such questions.

The problem story can be extended in either direction, as long as there are additional cause-and-effect relationships. Once complete, focus on breaking the chains connecting two subsequent events by disrupting the cause-and-effect relationship between them.

Alternate Worlds

The alternate worlds tool encourages you to consider how people from different backgrounds would approach similar situations. For instance, how would someone in hospitality versus manufacturing approach the same problem? This tool isn't intended to instantly solve problems but, rather, to encourage idea generation and creativity.

7. Use Positive Language

It's vital to maintain a positive mindset when problem-solving and avoid negative words that interfere with creativity. Positive language prevents quick judgments and overcomes cognitive fixedness. Instead of "no, but," use words like "yes, and."

Positive language makes others feel heard and valued rather than shut down. This practice doesn’t necessitate agreeing with every idea but instead approaching each from a positive perspective.

Using “yes, and” as a tool for further idea exploration is also effective. If someone presents an idea, build upon it using “yes, and.” What additional features could improve it? How could it benefit consumers beyond its intended purpose?

While it may not seem essential, this small adjustment can make a big difference in encouraging creativity.

8. Practice Design Thinking

Practicing design thinking can make you a more creative problem-solver. While commonly associated with the workplace, adopting a design thinking mentality can also improve your everyday life. Here are several ways you can practice design thinking:

  • Learn from others: There are many examples of design thinking in business . Review case studies to learn from others’ successes, research problems companies haven't addressed, and consider alternative solutions using the design thinking process.
  • Approach everyday problems with a design thinking mentality: One of the best ways to practice design thinking is to apply it to your daily life. Approach everyday problems using design thinking’s four-stage framework to uncover what solutions it yields.
  • Study design thinking: While learning design thinking independently is a great place to start, taking an online course can offer more insight and practical experience. The right course can teach you important skills , increase your marketability, and provide valuable networking opportunities.

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

Ready to Become a Creative Problem-Solver?

Though creativity comes naturally to some, it's an acquired skill for many. Regardless of which category you're in, improving your ability to innovate is a valuable endeavor. Whether you want to bolster your creativity or expand your professional skill set, taking an innovation-based course can enhance your problem-solving.

If you're ready to become a more creative problem-solver, 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.

steps in problem solving creative process

About the Author

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Creativity and Innovation pp 117–147 Cite as

Creative Problem-Solving

  • Terence Lee 4 ,
  • Lauren O’Mahony 5 &
  • Pia Lebeck 6  
  • First Online: 29 January 2023

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This chapter presents Alex Osborn’s 1953 creative problem-solving (CPS) model as a three-procedure approach that can be deployed to problems that emerge in our everyday lives. The three procedures are fact-finding, idea-finding and solution-finding, with each step carefully informed by both divergent and convergent thinking. Using case studies to elaborate on the efficacy of CPS, the chapter also identifies a few common flaws that can impact on creativity and innovation. This chapter explores the challenges posed by ‘wicked problems’ that are particularly challenging in that they are ill-defined, unique, contradictory, multi-causal and recurring; it considers the practical importance of building team environments, of embracing diversity and difference, and other characteristics of effective teams. The chapter builds conceptually and practically on the earlier chapters, especially Chapter 4 , and provides case studies to help make sense of the key principles of creative problem-solving.

  • Creative problem-solving
  • Fact-finding
  • Idea-finding
  • Solution-finding
  • Divergent thinking
  • Convergent thinking
  • Wicked problems

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The creative problem-solving process explored in this chapter is not to be confused with the broader ‘creative process’ that is presented in Chapter 2 of this book. See Chapter 2 to understand what creative process entails.

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Creative problem solving: basics, techniques, activities

Why is creative problem solving so important.

Problem-solving is a part of almost every person's daily life at home and in the workplace. Creative problem solving helps us understand our environment, identify the things we want or need to change, and find a solution to improve the environment's performance.

Creative problem solving is essential for individuals and organizations because it helps us control what's happening in our environment.

Humans have learned to observe the environment and identify risks that may lead to specific outcomes in the future. Anticipating is helpful not only for fixing broken things but also for influencing the performance of items.

Creative problem solving is not just about fixing broken things; it's about innovating and creating something new. Observing and analyzing the environment, we identify opportunities for new ideas that will improve our environment in the future.

The 7-step creative problem-solving process

The creative problem-solving process usually consists of seven steps.

1. Define the problem.

The very first step in the CPS process is understanding the problem itself. You may think that it's the most natural step, but sometimes what we consider a problem is not a problem. We are very often mistaken about the real issue and misunderstood them. You need to analyze the situation. Otherwise, the wrong question will bring your CPS process in the wrong direction. Take the time to understand the problem and clear up any doubts or confusion.

2. Research the problem.

Once you identify the problem, you need to gather all possible data to find the best workable solution. Use various data sources for research. Start with collecting data from search engines, but don't forget about traditional sources like libraries. You can also ask your friends or colleagues who can share additional thoughts on your issue. Asking questions on forums is a good option, too.

3. Make challenge questions.

After you've researched the problem and collected all the necessary details about it, formulate challenge questions. They should encourage you to generate ideas and be short and focused only on one issue. You may start your challenge questions with "How might I…?" or "In what way could I…?" Then try to answer them.

4. Generate ideas.

Now you are ready to brainstorm ideas. Here it is the stage where the creativity starts. You must note each idea you brainstorm, even if it seems crazy, not inefficient from your first point of view. You can fix your thoughts on a sheet of paper or use any up-to-date tools developed for these needs.

5. Test and review the ideas.

Then you need to evaluate your ideas and choose the one you believe is the perfect solution. Think whether the possible solutions are workable and implementing them will solve the problem. If the result doesn't fix the issue, test the next idea. Repeat your tests until the best solution is found.

6. Create an action plan.

Once you've found the perfect solution, you need to work out the implementation steps. Think about what you need to implement the solution and how it will take.

7. Implement the plan.

Now it's time to implement your solution and resolve the issue.

Top 5 Easy creative thinking techniques to use at work

1. brainstorming.

Brainstorming is one of the most glaring CPS techniques, and it's beneficial. You can practice it in a group or individually.

Define the problem you need to resolve and take notes of every idea you generate. Don't judge your thoughts, even if you think they are strange. After you create a list of ideas, let your colleagues vote for the best idea.

2. Drawing techniques

It's very convenient to visualize concepts and ideas by drawing techniques such as mind mapping or creating concept maps. They are used for organizing thoughts and building connections between ideas. These techniques have a lot in common, but still, they have some differences.

When starting a mind map, you need to put the key concept in the center and add new connections. You can discover as many joints as you can.

Concept maps represent the structure of knowledge stored in our minds about a particular topic. One of the key characteristics of a concept map is its hierarchical structure, which means placing specific concepts under more general ones.

3. SWOT Analysis

The SWOT technique is used during the strategic planning stage before the actual brainstorming of ideas. It helps you identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of your project, idea, or business. Once you analyze these characteristics, you are ready to generate possible solutions to your problem.

4. Random words

This technique is one of the simplest to use for generating ideas. It's often applied by people who need to create a new product, for example. You need to prepare a list of random words, expressions, or stories and put them on the desk or board or write them down on a large sheet of paper.

Once you have a list of random words, you should think of associations with them and analyze how they work with the problem. Since our brain is good at making connections, the associations will stimulate brainstorming of new ideas.

5. Storyboarding

This CPS method is popular because it tells a story visually. This technique is based on a step-creation process. Follow this instruction to see the storyboarding process in progress:

  • Set a problem and write down the steps you need to reach your goal.
  • Put the actions in the right order.
  • Make sub-steps for some steps if necessary. This will help you see the process in detail.
  • Evaluate your moves and try to identify problems in it. It's necessary for predicting possible negative scenarios.

7 Ways to improve your creative problem-solving skills

1. play brain games.

It's considered that brain games are an excellent way to stimulate human brain function. They develop a lot of thinking skills that are crucial for creative problem-solving.

You can solve puzzles or play math games, for example. These activities will bring you many benefits, including strong logical, critical, and analytical thinking skills.

If you are keen on playing fun math games and solving complicated logic tasks, try LogicLike online.

We created 3500+ puzzles, mathematical games, and brain exercises. Our website and mobile app, developed for adults and kids, help to make pastime more productive just in one place.

2. Practice asking questions

Reasoning stimulates you to generate new ideas and solutions. To make the CPS process more accessible, ask questions about different things. By developing curiosity, you get more information that broadens your background. The more you know about a specific topic, the more solutions you will be able to generate. Make it your useful habit to ask questions. You can research on your own. Alternatively, you can ask someone who is an expert in the field. Anyway, this will help you improve your CPS skills.

3. Challenge yourself with new opportunities

After you've gained a certain level of creativity, you shouldn't stop developing your skills. Try something new, and don't be afraid of challenging yourself with more complicated methods and techniques. Don't use the same tools and solutions for similar problems. Learn from your experience and make another step to move to the next level.

4. Master your expertise

If you want to keep on generating creative ideas, you need to master your skills in the industry you are working in. The better you understand your industry vertical, the more comfortable you identify problems, find connections between them, and create actionable solutions.

Once you are satisfied with your professional life, you shouldn't stop learning new things and get additional knowledge in your field. It's vital if you want to be creative both in professional and daily life. Broaden your background to brainstorm more innovative solutions.

5. Develop persistence

If you understand why you go through this CPS challenge and why you need to come up with a resolution to your problem, you are more motivated to go through the obstacles you face. By doing this, you develop persistence that enables you to move forward toward a goal.

Practice persistence in daily routine or at work. For example, you can minimize the time you need to implement your action plan. Alternatively, some problems require a long-term period to accomplish a goal. That's why you need to follow the steps or try different solutions until you find what works for solving your problem. Don't forget about the reason why you need to find a solution to motivate yourself to be persistent.

6. Improve emotional intelligence

Empathy is a critical element of emotional intelligence. It means that you can view the issues from the perspective of other people. By practicing compassion, you can understand your colleagues that work on the project together with you. Understanding will help you implement the solutions that are beneficial for you and others.

7. Use a thinking strategy

You are mistaken if you think that creative thinking is an unstructured process. Any thinking process is a multi-step procedure, and creative thinking isn't an exclusion. Always follow a particular strategy framework while finding a solution. It will make your thinking activity more efficient and result-oriented.

Develop your logic and mathematical skills. 3500+ fun math problems and brain games with answers and explanations.

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Osborn: Creative Problem-Solving Process

Last Updated on 7 July 2021

Alex Osborn is the “O” in the agency BBDO . In 1953, he wrote a book titled “ Applied Imagination: Principles and Procedures of Creative Problem-Solving .” He was one of the first – if not the first – to write about the practical application of brainstorming and creative problem-solving (CPS). Here is how he outlines the CPS process…

(begin quote)

The creative problem-solving process ideally comprises these procedures: (1) Fact -finding. (2) Idea -finding. (3) Solution -finding.

Fact -finding calls for problem-definition and preparation. Problem-definition calls for picking out and pointing up the problem. Preparation calls for gathering and analyzing the pertinent data.

Idea -finding calls for idea-production and idea-development. Idea production calls for thinking up tentative ideas as possible leads. Idea-development calls for selecting the most likely of the resultant ideas, adding others, and reprocessing all of these by such means as modification and combination.

Solution -finding calls for evaluation and adoption. Evaluation calls for verifying the tentative solutions, by tests and otherwise. Adoption calls for deciding on, and implementing, the final solution.

Regardless of sequence, every one of those steps calls for deliberate effort and creative imagination.

(end quote)

  • What Is A Problem?
  • Solve Problems in Three Steps
  • Creative Problem Solving (CPS)

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Overview of the Problem-Solving Mental Process

Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."

steps in problem solving creative process

Rachel Goldman, PhD FTOS, is a licensed psychologist, clinical assistant professor, speaker, wellness expert specializing in eating behaviors, stress management, and health behavior change.

steps in problem solving creative process

  • Identify the Problem
  • Define the Problem
  • Form a Strategy
  • Organize Information
  • Allocate Resources
  • Monitor Progress
  • Evaluate the Results

Frequently Asked Questions

Problem-solving is a mental process that involves discovering, analyzing, and solving problems. The ultimate goal of problem-solving is to overcome obstacles and find a solution that best resolves the issue.

The best strategy for solving a problem depends largely on the unique situation. In some cases, people are better off learning everything they can about the issue and then using factual knowledge to come up with a solution. In other instances, creativity and insight are the best options.

It is not necessary to follow problem-solving steps sequentially, It is common to skip steps or even go back through steps multiple times until the desired solution is reached.

In order to correctly solve a problem, it is often important to follow a series of steps. Researchers sometimes refer to this as the problem-solving cycle. While this cycle is portrayed sequentially, people rarely follow a rigid series of steps to find a solution.

The following steps include developing strategies and organizing knowledge.

1. Identifying the Problem

While it may seem like an obvious step, identifying the problem is not always as simple as it sounds. In some cases, people might mistakenly identify the wrong source of a problem, which will make attempts to solve it inefficient or even useless.

Some strategies that you might use to figure out the source of a problem include :

  • Asking questions about the problem
  • Breaking the problem down into smaller pieces
  • Looking at the problem from different perspectives
  • Conducting research to figure out what relationships exist between different variables

2. Defining the Problem

After the problem has been identified, it is important to fully define the problem so that it can be solved. You can define a problem by operationally defining each aspect of the problem and setting goals for what aspects of the problem you will address

At this point, you should focus on figuring out which aspects of the problems are facts and which are opinions. State the problem clearly and identify the scope of the solution.

3. Forming a Strategy

After the problem has been identified, it is time to start brainstorming potential solutions. This step usually involves generating as many ideas as possible without judging their quality. Once several possibilities have been generated, they can be evaluated and narrowed down.

The next step is to develop a strategy to solve the problem. The approach used will vary depending upon the situation and the individual's unique preferences. Common problem-solving strategies include heuristics and algorithms.

  • Heuristics are mental shortcuts that are often based on solutions that have worked in the past. They can work well if the problem is similar to something you have encountered before and are often the best choice if you need a fast solution.
  • Algorithms are step-by-step strategies that are guaranteed to produce a correct result. While this approach is great for accuracy, it can also consume time and resources.

Heuristics are often best used when time is of the essence, while algorithms are a better choice when a decision needs to be as accurate as possible.

4. Organizing Information

Before coming up with a solution, you need to first organize the available information. What do you know about the problem? What do you not know? The more information that is available the better prepared you will be to come up with an accurate solution.

When approaching a problem, it is important to make sure that you have all the data you need. Making a decision without adequate information can lead to biased or inaccurate results.

5. Allocating Resources

Of course, we don't always have unlimited money, time, and other resources to solve a problem. Before you begin to solve a problem, you need to determine how high priority it is.

If it is an important problem, it is probably worth allocating more resources to solving it. If, however, it is a fairly unimportant problem, then you do not want to spend too much of your available resources on coming up with a solution.

At this stage, it is important to consider all of the factors that might affect the problem at hand. This includes looking at the available resources, deadlines that need to be met, and any possible risks involved in each solution. After careful evaluation, a decision can be made about which solution to pursue.

6. Monitoring Progress

After selecting a problem-solving strategy, it is time to put the plan into action and see if it works. This step might involve trying out different solutions to see which one is the most effective.

It is also important to monitor the situation after implementing a solution to ensure that the problem has been solved and that no new problems have arisen as a result of the proposed solution.

Effective problem-solvers tend to monitor their progress as they work towards a solution. If they are not making good progress toward reaching their goal, they will reevaluate their approach or look for new strategies .

7. Evaluating the Results

After a solution has been reached, it is important to evaluate the results to determine if it is the best possible solution to the problem. This evaluation might be immediate, such as checking the results of a math problem to ensure the answer is correct, or it can be delayed, such as evaluating the success of a therapy program after several months of treatment.

Once a problem has been solved, it is important to take some time to reflect on the process that was used and evaluate the results. This will help you to improve your problem-solving skills and become more efficient at solving future problems.

A Word From Verywell​

It is important to remember that there are many different problem-solving processes with different steps, and this is just one example. Problem-solving in real-world situations requires a great deal of resourcefulness, flexibility, resilience, and continuous interaction with the environment.

Get Advice From The Verywell Mind Podcast

Hosted by therapist Amy Morin, LCSW, this episode of The Verywell Mind Podcast shares how you can stop dwelling in a negative mindset.

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You can become a better problem solving by:

  • Practicing brainstorming and coming up with multiple potential solutions to problems
  • Being open-minded and considering all possible options before making a decision
  • Breaking down problems into smaller, more manageable pieces
  • Asking for help when needed
  • Researching different problem-solving techniques and trying out new ones
  • Learning from mistakes and using them as opportunities to grow

It's important to communicate openly and honestly with your partner about what's going on. Try to see things from their perspective as well as your own. Work together to find a resolution that works for both of you. Be willing to compromise and accept that there may not be a perfect solution.

Take breaks if things are getting too heated, and come back to the problem when you feel calm and collected. Don't try to fix every problem on your own—consider asking a therapist or counselor for help and insight.

If you've tried everything and there doesn't seem to be a way to fix the problem, you may have to learn to accept it. This can be difficult, but try to focus on the positive aspects of your life and remember that every situation is temporary. Don't dwell on what's going wrong—instead, think about what's going right. Find support by talking to friends or family. Seek professional help if you're having trouble coping.

Davidson JE, Sternberg RJ, editors.  The Psychology of Problem Solving .  Cambridge University Press; 2003. doi:10.1017/CBO9780511615771

Sarathy V. Real world problem-solving .  Front Hum Neurosci . 2018;12:261. Published 2018 Jun 26. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2018.00261

By Kendra Cherry, MSEd Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."

Project Bliss

The osborn parnes creative problem-solving process.

steps in problem solving creative process

The Osborn Parnes creative problem-solving process is a structured way to generate creative and innovative ways to address problems.

If you want to grow in your career, you need to show you can provide value. This is true no matter where you sit in an organization.

You likely do this in your day-to-day activities.

But if you want to stand out, or do better than the minimum required for your job, you need to find ways to be more valuable to your company.

Problem-solving skills are a great way to do this.

And there are many problem-solving approaches you can use.

By bringing creativity into the approach, you can get an even better variety of potential solutions and ideas.

Benefits of Using Creative Problem Solving  

Osborn Parnes Creative Problem Solving Process - Photo by Shukhrat Umarov from Pexels

Using a creative problem-solving approach has multiple benefits:

  • It provides a structured approach to problem-solving.
  • It results in more possible solution options using both divergent and convergent approaches.
  • You create innovative approaches to change.
  • It’s a collaborative approach that allows multiple participants.
  • By engaging multiple participants in finding solutions, you create a positive environment and buy-in from participants.
  • This approach can be learned.
  • You can use these skills in various areas of life.

Origin of the Osborn Parnes Creative Problem-solving Process

Osborn Parnes Creative Problem Solving Process ProjectBliss

Alex Osborne and Sidney Parnes both focused much of their work on creativity. Osborn is credited with creating brainstorming techniques in the 1940s. He founded the Creative Education Foundation, which Parnes led.

The two collaborated to formalize the process., which is still taught today.  

“Creativity can solve almost any problem. The creative act, the defeat of habit by originality, overcomes everything.” – George Lois

What is the Osborn Parnes Creative Problem-solving Process

The Osborn Parnes model is a structured approach to help individuals and groups apply creativity to problem-solving. 

There are 6 steps to the Osborn Parnes Creative Problem-Solving Process.

1.    Mess-Finding / Objective Finding

During the Objective-Finding phase, you determine what the goal of your problem-solving process will be.

What’s the intent of carrying out your problem-solving process? Get clear on why you’re doing it. This helps ensure you focus your efforts in the right area.

Knowing your goals and objectives will help you focus your efforts where they have the most value.  

2.    Fact-Finding

The Fact-F inding phase ensures you gather enough data to fully understand the problem.

Once you’ve identified the area you want to focus on, gather as much information as you can. This helps you get a full picture of the situation.

Collect data, gather information, make observations, and employ other methods of learning more about the situation.

You may wish to identify success criteria for the situation at this step, also.

3.    Problem-Finding

The Problem Finding phase allows you to dig deeper into the problem and find the root or real problem you want to focus on. Reframe the problem in order to generate creative and valuable solutions.

Look at the problem and information you’ve gathered in order to better clarify the problem you’ll be solving.

Make sure you’re focusing on the right problem before moving forward to develop a solution.

Personal example: you may think you want to get a second job so you can have more money to take your family on vacations. Upon deeper exploration, you realize your real desire and goal is to find ways to spend more time with your family . That’s the real problem you wish to solve.

Work example: your team has too much work to do and doesn’t have the time to create new software features that customers want. By digging in and reframing the problem you realize the team is more focused on handling support calls. You need to find a solution to handling the support calls, which would free up time for the team to focus on new development. You dig even deeper and learn the support calls are primarily focused on one problem that could be fixed to solve the problem.

“If you define the problem correctly, you almost have the solution.” – Steve Jobs

4.    Idea-Finding

The Idea-F inding phase allows your team to generate many options for addressing the problem.

Come up with many different potential ideas to address the problem.

Don’t judge the suggestions. Instead, welcome even crazy ideas. Unexpected or odd ideas may help others generate great ideas.

Use brainstorming techniques, affinity mapping and grouping, and other tools to organize the input.

Use “yes, and…” statements rather than “No, but…” statements to keep ideas flowing and avoid discouraging participants from contributing.

5.    Solution-Finding

The Solution Finding phase allows you to choose the best options from the ideas generated in the Idea Finding phase. 

Set selection criteria for evaluating the best choices in order to select the best option. You can weight your criteria if needed to place more emphasis on criteria that may be more important than others. 

Create a prioritization matix with your criteria to help you choose what to focus on.

6.    Action-Finding

In the Action-Finding phase, develop a plan of action to implement the solution you’ve settled on as the best choice. 

Depending on how complex the solution is, you may need to create a more complex plan of action. Your work breakdown structure of activities may be complex or simple.

When creating your action plan, identify who’s responsible for each of the activities, dependencies, and due dates.

If your chosen solution will impact many people or teams, you may need to do an impact analysis, create a communication plan , and get buy-in or participation from more groups. If your solution is simple, you will most likely have a much simpler plan. 

“Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way.” – Edward de Bono

Creative Problem-Solving Categories

Osborn Parnes Creative Problem Solving Process ProjectBliss.net

Osborn and Parnes started working on creative problem-solving approaches in the 1950s. Since then, the process has evolved, but the focus on using creativity still remains important.

More recent modifications group the activities into four categories: 

Each of these categories contain the steps listed above to carry out the problem-solving process.

steps in problem solving creative process

As you can see, the steps are still there, but the grouping helps provide a bit more structure to the way teams can think about it.

Divergent and Convergent Thinking

steps in problem solving creative process

The creative problem-solving process uses two thinking styles: divergent thinking and convergent thinking. 

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, the just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while” – Steve Jobs

Divergent Thinking

Divergent  thinking is the creative process of generating multiple possible solutions and ideas. It’s usually done in a spontaneous approach where participants share multiple ideas, such as in a brainstorming session.

This approach allows more “out of the box” thinking for creative ideas. 

Once ideas are generated via creative, free-flowing divergent approach, you then move onto convergent thinking. 

Use questions to stimulate creative thinking.

When conducting divergent thinking sessions, don’t criticize suggestions. Instead, welcome ideas. Build on ideas that have been presented and even improve them if possible. 

Instead of saying “No, but…” welcome ideas with responses such as “Yes, and…”

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein

Convergent Thinking

steps in problem solving creative process

Convergent thinking is the process of evaluating the ideas, analyzing them, and selecting the best solution.

It’s the process of taking all the information gathered in divergent thinking, analyzing it, and finding the single best solution to the problem. 

Determine screening criteria for evaluating ideas. Spend time evaluating the options, and even improve suggestions if possible or needed. 

If an idea seems too crazy, don’t immediately dismiss it. A friend told me once he thought the Bird or Lime scooter business models would never work. If it had been pitched to him, his response would have been “People won’t use them. They’ll destroy them. People won’t be allowed to use them without helmets and won’t be permitted to leave them on the sidewalk.” But it’s turned out in many cities to be a great mode of short-distance transportation. 

Someone taking a strictly convergent approach to problem-solving might skip a creative brainstorming session and instead try to think of a straightforward answer to the problem. 

However, it’s useful to employ both approaches to come up with more options and creative solutions to problems. 

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” – Maya Angelou

Running Your Problem-Solving Sessions

steps in problem solving creative process

When using these techniques, use your great facilitation and leadership skills to keep the group focused and moving forward.

For the best meetings possible, follow the guidance in my book Bad Meetings Happen to Good People: How to Run Meetings That Are Effective, Focused, and Produce Results .

Problem-solving skills and tools are useful both at work and other areas of life.

It’s liberating to know you don’t have to have all the answers to make improvements.

Instead, knowing how to lead and collaborate with others to find solutions will help you stand out as a strong leader and valuable team member to your employer.

Don’t shy away from leading an improvement effort when faced with challenges. Doing so will give you greater confidence to search for solutions in other situations.

And you’ll be known as someone who can tackle challenges and make improvements in the organization. Creating this reputation will be great for your career.

“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try” – Dr. Seuss

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Leigh Espy is a project manager and coach with experience working in startups, government, and the corporate world. She works with project managers who want to improve their skills and grow in their career, and entrepreneurs and small businesses to help them get more done. She also remembers her early career days and loves working with new project managers and those who want to make a career move into project management.

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I’m glad ‘problem finding’ is the basis for this. However, I think this is still reductive and presumes a ‘problem’ to be ‘solved’. I see ‘problem solving’ as a long way down the path in creativity. Creativity starts with an objective, a challenge, an opportunity. Not a ‘problem’. A problem gets an answer. A challenge gets possibilities.

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am a university student from kenya and my lecturer gave us a question on how to use osbons model to systemtically analyze how to find solutions about corruption in our country and i think the info i got here will help me tackle that question alot

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Great reading – it helped me with my Creativity Tools homework

  • Pingback: Creative Problem-Solving – Riyanthi Sianturi November 7, 2020

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Understanding the four stages of the creative process

There’s a lot that science can teach us about what goes into the creative process—and how each one of us can optimize our own.

steps in problem solving creative process

How do great artists and innovators come up with their most brilliant ideas ? And by what kind of alchemical process are they able to bring those ideas to life? 

I have eagerly sought the answers to these questions over the past decade of my career as a psychology writer. My fascination with the lives and minds of brilliant artists and innovators has led me on a quest to discover what makes us creative , where ideas come from, and how they come to life. But even after writing an entire book on the science of creativity and designing a creative personality test , there are more questions than answers in my mind. 

Decades of research have yet to uncover the unique spark of creative genius. Creativity is as perplexing to us today as it was to the ancients, who cast creative genius in the realm of the supernatural and declared it the work of the muses.  

What the science does show is that creative people are complex and contradictory. Their creative processes tend to be chaotic and nonlinear—which seems to mirror what’s going on in their brains. Contrary to the “right-brain myth,” creativity doesn’t just involve a single brain region or even a single side of the brain. Instead, the creative process draws on the whole brain. It’s a dynamic interplay of many diverse brain regions, thinking styles, emotions, and unconscious and conscious processing systems coming together in unusual and unexpected ways. 

But while we may never find the formula for creativity, there’s still a lot that science can teach us about what goes into the creative process—and how each one of us can optimize our own. 

Understanding your own creative process

One of the most illuminating things I’ve found is a popular four-stage model of the creative process developed in the 1920s. In his book The Art of Thought , British psychologist Graham Wallas outlined a theory of the creative process based on many years of observing and studying accounts of inventors and other creative types at work. 

The four stages of the creative process: 

Stage 1: preparation.

The creative process begins with preparation: gathering information and materials, identifying sources of inspiration, and acquiring knowledge about the project or problem at hand. This is often an internal process (thinking deeply to generate and engage with ideas) as well as an external one (going out into the world to gather the necessary data, resources, materials, and expertise). 

Stage 2: Incubation

Next, the ideas and information gathered in stage 1 marinate in the mind. As ideas slowly simmer, the work deepens and new connections are formed. During this period of germination, the artist takes their focus off the problem and allows the mind to rest. While the conscious mind wanders, the unconscious engages in what Einstein called “combinatory play”: taking diverse ideas and influences and finding new ways to bring them together. 

Stage 3: Illumination

Next comes the elusive aha moment. After a period of incubation, insights arise from the deeper layers of the mind and break through to conscious awareness, often in a dramatic way. It’s the sudden Eureka! that comes when you’re in the shower, taking a walk, or occupied with something completely unrelated. Seemingly out of nowhere, the solution presents itself. 

Stage 4: Verification

Following the aha moment, the words get written down, the vision is committed to paint or clay, the business plan is developed. Whatever ideas and insights arose in stage 3 are fleshed out and developed. The artist uses critical thinking and aesthetic judgment skills to hone and refine the work and then communicate its value to others. 

Of course, these stages don’t always play out in such an orderly, linear fashion. The creative process tends to look more like a zigzag or spiral than a straight line. The model certainly has its limitations, but it can offer a road map of sorts for our own creative journey, offering a direction, if not a destination. It can help us become more aware of where we’re at in our own process, where we need to go, and the mental processes that can help us get there. And when the process gets a little too messy, coming back to this framework can help us to recenter, realign, and chart the path ahead. 

For instance, if you can’t seem to get from incubation to illumination, the solution might be to go back to stage 1, gathering more resources and knowledge to find that missing element. Or perhaps, in the quest for productivity , you’ve made the all-too-common mistake of skipping straight to stage 4, pushing ahead with a half-baked idea before it’s fully marinated. In that case, carving out time and space for stage 2 may be the necessary detour. 

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How to optimize your creative process for ultimate success

But let’s dig a little deeper: As I’ve contemplated and applied the four-stage model in my own work, I’ve found within it a much more profound insight into the mysteries of creation.  

At its heart, any creative process is about discovering something new within ourselves and then bringing that something into the world for others to experience and enjoy. The work of the artist, the visionary, the innovator is to bridge their inner and outer worlds—taking something that only exists within their own mind and heart and soul and birthing it into concrete, tangible form (you know, not unlike that other kind of creative process). 

Any creative process is a dance between the inner and the outer; the unconscious and conscious mind; dreaming and doing; madness and method; solitary reflection and active collaboration. Psychologists describe it in simple terms of inspiration (coming up with ideas) and generation (bringing ideas to life). 

In the four-stage model, we can see how the internal and external elements of the creative process interact. stages 2 and 3 are all about inspiration: dreaming, reflecting, imagining, opening up to inspiration, and allowing the unconscious mind to do its work. Stages 1 and 4, meanwhile, are about generation: doing the external work of research, planning, execution, and collaboration. Through a dynamic dance of inspiration and generation, brilliant work comes to life. 

How does this help us in our own creative process? The more we master this balance, the more we can tap into our creative potential. We all have a preference for one side over the other, and by becoming more aware of our natural inclinations, we can learn how to optimize our strengths and minimize our weaknesses.  

More inward-focused, idea-generating types excel in stages 2 and 3: getting inspired and coming up with brilliant ideas. But they run the risk of getting stuck in their own heads and failing to materialize their brilliant ideas in the world. These thinkers and dreamers often need to bring more time and focus to stages 1 and 4 in order to keep their creative process on track. Balance inspiration with generation by creating the necessary structures to help you commit to action and put one foot in front of the other to make it happen—or just collaborate with a doer who you can outsource your ideas to! 

Doer types, on the other hand, shine in stages 1 and 4. They’re brilliant at getting things done, but they risk putting all their focus on productivity at the expense of the inner work and big-picture thinking that helps produce truly inspired work. When we bypass the critical work that occurs in the incubation stage, we miss out on our most original and groundbreaking ideas. If you’re a doer/generator, you can up-level your creative process by clearing out the space in your mind and your schedule to dream, imagine, reflect, and contemplate. 

By seeking a balance of these opposing forces, we can bring some order to the chaos of the creative process. And as we become dreamers who do and doers who dream, we empower ourselves to share more of our creative gifts with the world. 

WeWork’s space products including  On Demand ,  All Access , and  dedicated spaces  help businesses of all sizes solve their biggest challenges.

Carolyn Gregoire is a writer and creative consultant living in Brooklyn. She is the co-author of  Wired to Create: Unravelling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind  and the creator of the Creative Types personality test. Her work has been featured in the New York Times, Scientific American, TIME, Harvard Business Review, and other publications.

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3.3: Creative Problem-Solving Process

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LEARNING OBJECTIVES

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. 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 3.3.1).

6.2.1 10.05.35 PM.jpeg

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 3.3.2, is a tool that can be used to identify the causes of such a problem.

6.2.2.jpeg

In the case of our water pollution example, a fishbone diagram exploring the issue might reveal the items shown in Figure 3.3.3.

6.2.3.jpeg

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.

Crowdsourcing

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

Brainstorming is the generation of ideas in an environment free of judgment or dissension with the goal of creating solutions. 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

Storyboarding is the process of presenting an idea in a step-by-step graphic format, as Figure 3.3.4 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.

6.2.4.jpeg

Team Creativity

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, co-founder 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 3.3.5). 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.

6.2.6.png

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 the 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.

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September 29, 2022

Creative Problem Solving

Think about a problem you recently solved. What steps did you take? Were you aware of your process in the moment? How did it go?

According to over 50 years of research into creativity, we all follow the same steps when solving problems: clarify, ideate, develop, and implement. In addition, we each have preferences towards some steps more than others.

As a certified FourSight instructor, I’ve come to learn the importance of understanding how we solve problems. Awareness of our process and preferences towards each step allows us to be better collaborators and more effective problem-solvers.

Let’s unpack creative problem solving (CPS) and the FourSight tool.

First, what is creativity?

Before we dive into the history of creative problem solving, let’s define our terms.

At Clique, we define creativity as, “the act of turning new and imaginative ideas into reality.” (Naiman and Naiman 2017)

Creativity is a process, not some special trait endowed to only a few. In fact, anyone can be creative. Most often, artists are labeled “creative;” however, anyone who takes a novel idea and makes it a reality is practicing creativity. A football player who runs a new route, a mathematician who crunches numbers a different way, and a strategist who writes a blog about problem solving are each creative in their own ways.

Some History

Our understanding of creativity is rooted in research that goes back nearly 60 years. Known as the “Father of Brainstorming,” Alex Osborn was a creativity theorist and businessman who studied creativity while designing brainstorming sessions in the 1950s. His work is the foundation of many problem-solving processes including Design Thinking and Human-Centered Design .

Osborn focused his research on how we solve problems because that’s often when we call upon creativity to turn a new idea into reality. His research showed that we all can be creative when needed and, interestingly, we each follow the same steps.

In the 1990s, Gerard Puccio, Ph.D., Director of the International Center for Studies in Creativity at the State University of New York College at Buffalo, set out to spread awareness of the CPS process.

By building upon Osborn’s research, Puccio developed a tool known as FourSight . The tool includes an explanation of the four-step problem-solving process and an assessment that measures our preferences toward each step.

The Process

According to FourSight, we all follow four steps when solving a problem: clarify, ideate, develop, and implement.

  • Clarify : When we approach a problem, our first step is to clarify the nature of it. We ask questions, identify the root cause, and articulate the problem to be solved.
  • Ideate : Once we understand the problem, we ideate potential solutions. There’s often more than one way to move forward, and ideation is a way to explore many options.
  • Develop : After our ideas are out there, we pick one to develop into a workable solution. We review the details and determine what’s needed to make our idea a reality.
  • Implement : Once we have a plan, we’re ready to implement it. We put rubber to the road and apply our solution.

We each intuitively follow these steps whenever we solve problems. Even in moments of high stress, when we’re forced to “go with our gut,” this process plays a role.

Imagine you walk into your home and smell smoke. You’d first clarify what’s causing it. If you discover a fire in your kitchen, you’d (quickly) ideate ways to put it out. Water from the sink? A call to 911? The fire extinguisher!

Once you choose to use the fire extinguisher, you develop your approach. Is there a safety valve? How do you spray it? Where should you stand? When you’re ready, you implement . Goodbye, fire!

All of these steps can happen in a matter of seconds, but we follow them intuitively. Our real strength and effectiveness comes from awareness that there is a process and that we prefer some steps over others.

Our Preferences

When we talk about preferences, it’s important to note that preferences are not the same as abilities. Here’s an example to illustrate:

Try signing your name with your non-dominant hand. How does it feel?

I’ve heard people describe the experience a variety of ways:

  • “It’s awkward.”
  • “I feel dumb.”
  • “It’s harder than I thought.”
  • “I have to work slower.”
  • “It requires more effort.”

Even though you could practice writing with your non-dominant hand and get better, it will always feel slightly awkward and require more effort and attention than writing with your dominant hand.

Preferences are similar. Depending on which steps in the FourSight process we prefer, we’ll gain and lose energy along the way. And each preference comes with strengths and potential blindspots.

  • Clarifiers : These people are most engaged during the clarification stage as they enjoy asking questions and getting to the root of a problem before moving forward. They may be great at articulating an issue and fully understanding what needs to be solved. However, they may also suffer from “analysis paralysis” and avoid moving into ideation. When working with Clarifiers it’s important to give them space to ask questions. And Clarifiers need to remember to maintain forward movement when working with non-Clarifiers.
  • Ideators : These folks love ideation. They are often most engaged when thinking of a range of solutions and can be great at divergent thinking. However, they may find it hard to pick just one idea and could lose energy when it comes time to discuss the details. When working with Ideators, it’s important to give them space to play. And when Ideators work with others, they should remember to tie their loftier ideas to tangible outcomes.
  • Developers : Similar to how Clarifiers enjoy the details of the problem, Developers love the details of the solution. They feel most engaged when it comes time to take an idea and make it a reality. They question what needs to be done, who’s going to do it, and how. When working with Developers, it’s important to give them as much information as possible so they know all bases are covered. And Developers need to avoid getting too stuck in the details, as it could prevent them from dreaming big or implementing their plans.
  • Implementers : This group of people feels most engaged when it’s time to act. They love executing a solution, and can become impatient when spending too much time thinking about the problem or the solution. When working with Implementers, it’s important to show forward momentum throughout the process. And Implementers are at their best when they address the needs of others and avoid a “ready, fire, aim!” approach.

You may be thinking to yourself that you can relate to a few of these personas. And that makes sense. In fact, it’s entirely possible to prefer multiple steps of the process. For instance, I prefer clarification and ideation – which makes me an “Early Bird” and comes with its own set of strengths and potential blindspots.

As I’ve mentioned before, our preferences in the problem-solving process do not impact our overall capabilities. However, awareness of the process, our preferences, and the preferences of others, helps us improve our skills and be better collaborators.

When working with others, it helps to understand where each team member gains and loses energy. This way, each group member can support one another and ensure they have the information they need to stay engaged throughout the project.

If you’d like to implement FourSight at your organization, begin by defining your terms so your teams have a shared language around creativity. Next, take time to share your preferences with one another so you know how to keep one another most engaged. And finally, allow the process to formalize your approach to meetings and project management.

At Clique, we’ve adopted FourSight language when discussing our internal meetings. Often, meeting invites will include disclaimers such as: “this is a clarification session, so come prepared to ask questions” or “let’s ideate potential solutions to the following prompt.” In this way, people can prepare for each call regardless of where their preferences lie.

We also structure our client engagements with CPS in mind. Each project has dedicated time for clarification, ideation, development, and implementation. This way, we know we’re solving the right problems for our clients and bringing the best possible solutions to life in the best possible way.

Problem Solved

Creative problem solving is a cornerstone to innovation and plays a role in all of our work. By understanding the process and our preferences toward each step, we’re able to turn new and imaginative ideas into reality every time.

If you’d like to learn more about your specific preferences related to problem solving, check out the FourSight Assessment or contact us and let’s solve some problems together!

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The 5 steps of the solving problem process

August 17, 2023 by MindManager Blog

Whether you run a business, manage a team, or work in an industry where change is the norm, it may feel like something is always going wrong. Thankfully, becoming proficient in the problem solving process can alleviate a great deal of the stress that business issues can create.

Understanding the right way to solve problems not only takes the guesswork out of how to deal with difficult, unexpected, or complex situations, it can lead to more effective long-term solutions.

In this article, we’ll walk you through the 5 steps of problem solving, and help you explore a few examples of problem solving scenarios where you can see the problem solving process in action before putting it to work.

Understanding the problem solving process

When something isn’t working, it’s important to understand what’s at the root of the problem so you can fix it and prevent it from happening again. That’s why resolving difficult or complex issues works best when you apply proven business problem solving tools and techniques – from soft skills, to software.

The problem solving process typically includes:

  • Pinpointing what’s broken by gathering data and consulting with team members.
  • Figuring out why it’s not working by mapping out and troubleshooting the problem.
  • Deciding on the most effective way to fix it by brainstorming and then implementing a solution.

While skills like active listening, collaboration, and leadership play an important role in problem solving, tools like visual mapping software make it easier to define and share problem solving objectives, play out various solutions, and even put the best fit to work.

Before you can take your first step toward solving a problem, you need to have a clear idea of what the issue is and the outcome you want to achieve by resolving it.

For example, if your company currently manufactures 50 widgets a day, but you’ve started processing orders for 75 widgets a day, you could simply say you have a production deficit.

However, the problem solving process will prove far more valuable if you define the start and end point by clarifying that production is running short by 25 widgets a day, and you need to increase daily production by 50%.

Once you know where you’re at and where you need to end up, these five steps will take you from Point A to Point B:

  • Figure out what’s causing the problem . You may need to gather knowledge and evaluate input from different documents, departments, and personnel to isolate the factors that are contributing to your problem. Knowledge visualization software like MindManager can help.
  • Come up with a few viable solutions . Since hitting on exactly the right solution – right away – can be tough, brainstorming with your team and mapping out various scenarios is the best way to move forward. If your first strategy doesn’t pan out, you’ll have others on tap you can turn to.
  • Choose the best option . Decision-making skills, and software that lets you lay out process relationships, priorities, and criteria, are invaluable for selecting the most promising solution. Whether it’s you or someone higher up making that choice, it should include weighing costs, time commitments, and any implementation hurdles.
  • Put your chosen solution to work . Before implementing your fix of choice, you should make key personnel aware of changes that might affect their daily workflow, and set up benchmarks that will make it easy to see if your solution is working.
  • Evaluate your outcome . Now comes the moment of truth: did the solution you implemented solve your problem? Do your benchmarks show you achieved the outcome you wanted? If so, congratulations! If not, you’ll need to tweak your solution to meet your problem solving goal.

In practice, you might not hit a home-run with every solution you execute. But the beauty of a repeatable process like problem solving is that you can carry out steps 4 and 5 again by drawing from the brainstorm options you documented during step 2.

Examples of problem solving scenarios

The best way to get a sense of how the problem solving process works before you try it for yourself is to work through some simple scenarios.

Here are three examples of how you can apply business problem solving techniques to common workplace challenges.

Scenario #1: Manufacturing

Building on our original manufacturing example, you determine that your company is consistently short producing 25 widgets a day and needs to increase daily production by 50%.

Since you’d like to gather data and input from both your manufacturing and sales order departments, you schedule a brainstorming session to discover the root cause of the shortage.

After examining four key production areas – machines, materials, methods, and management – you determine the cause of the problem: the material used to manufacture your widgets can only be fed into your equipment once the machinery warms up to a specific temperature for the day.

Your team comes up with three possible solutions.

  • Leave your machinery running 24 hours so it’s always at temperature.
  • Invest in equipment that heats up faster.
  • Find an alternate material for your widgets.

After weighing the expense of the first two solutions, and conducting some online research, you decide that switching to a comparable but less expensive material that can be worked at a lower temperature is your best option.

You implement your plan, monitor your widget quality and output over the following week, and declare your solution a success when daily production increases by 100%.

Scenario #2: Service Delivery

Business training is booming and you’ve had to onboard new staff over the past month. Now you learn that several clients have expressed concern about the quality of your recent training sessions.

After speaking with both clients and staff, you discover there are actually two distinct factors contributing to your quality problem:

  • The additional conference room you’ve leased to accommodate your expanding training sessions has terrible acoustics
  • The AV equipment you’ve purchased to accommodate your expanding workforce is on back-order – and your new hires have been making do without

You could look for a new conference room or re-schedule upcoming training sessions until after your new equipment arrives. But your team collaboratively determines that the best way to mitigate both issues at once is by temporarily renting the high-quality sound and visual system they need.

Using benchmarks that include several weeks of feedback from session attendees, and random session spot-checks you conduct personally, you conclude the solution has worked.

Scenario #3: Marketing

You’ve invested heavily in product marketing, but still can’t meet your sales goals. Specifically, you missed your revenue target by 30% last year and would like to meet that same target this year.

After collecting and examining reams of information from your sales and accounting departments, you sit down with your marketing team to figure out what’s hindering your success in the marketplace.

Determining that your product isn’t competitively priced, you map out two viable solutions.

  • Hire a third-party specialist to conduct a detailed market analysis.
  • Drop the price of your product to undercut competitors.

Since you’re in a hurry for results, you decide to immediately reduce the price of your product and market it accordingly.

When revenue figures for the following quarter show sales have declined even further – and marketing surveys show potential customers are doubting the quality of your product – you revert back to your original pricing, revisit your problem solving process, and implement the market analysis solution instead.

With the valuable information you gain, you finally arrive at just the right product price for your target market and sales begin to pick up. Although you miss your revenue target again this year, you meet it by the second quarter of the following year.

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Article • 4 min read

The Problem-Solving Process

Looking at the basic problem-solving process to help keep you on the right track.

By the Mind Tools Content Team

Problem-solving is an important part of planning and decision-making. The process has much in common with the decision-making process, and in the case of complex decisions, can form part of the process itself.

We face and solve problems every day, in a variety of guises and of differing complexity. Some, such as the resolution of a serious complaint, require a significant amount of time, thought and investigation. Others, such as a printer running out of paper, are so quickly resolved they barely register as a problem at all.

steps in problem solving creative process

Despite the everyday occurrence of problems, many people lack confidence when it comes to solving them, and as a result may chose to stay with the status quo rather than tackle the issue. Broken down into steps, however, the problem-solving process is very simple. While there are many tools and techniques available to help us solve problems, the outline process remains the same.

The main stages of problem-solving are outlined below, though not all are required for every problem that needs to be solved.

steps in problem solving creative process

1. Define the Problem

Clarify the problem before trying to solve it. A common mistake with problem-solving is to react to what the problem appears to be, rather than what it actually is. Write down a simple statement of the problem, and then underline the key words. Be certain there are no hidden assumptions in the key words you have underlined. One way of doing this is to use a synonym to replace the key words. For example, ‘We need to encourage higher productivity ’ might become ‘We need to promote superior output ’ which has a different meaning.

2. Analyze the Problem

Ask yourself, and others, the following questions.

  • Where is the problem occurring?
  • When is it occurring?
  • Why is it happening?

Be careful not to jump to ‘who is causing the problem?’. When stressed and faced with a problem it is all too easy to assign blame. This, however, can cause negative feeling and does not help to solve the problem. As an example, if an employee is underperforming, the root of the problem might lie in a number of areas, such as lack of training, workplace bullying or management style. To assign immediate blame to the employee would not therefore resolve the underlying issue.

Once the answers to the where, when and why have been determined, the following questions should also be asked:

  • Where can further information be found?
  • Is this information correct, up-to-date and unbiased?
  • What does this information mean in terms of the available options?

3. Generate Potential Solutions

When generating potential solutions it can be a good idea to have a mixture of ‘right brain’ and ‘left brain’ thinkers. In other words, some people who think laterally and some who think logically. This provides a balance in terms of generating the widest possible variety of solutions while also being realistic about what can be achieved. There are many tools and techniques which can help produce solutions, including thinking about the problem from a number of different perspectives, and brainstorming, where a team or individual write as many possibilities as they can think of to encourage lateral thinking and generate a broad range of potential solutions.

4. Select Best Solution

When selecting the best solution, consider:

  • Is this a long-term solution, or a ‘quick fix’?
  • Is the solution achievable in terms of available resources and time?
  • Are there any risks associated with the chosen solution?
  • Could the solution, in itself, lead to other problems?

This stage in particular demonstrates why problem-solving and decision-making are so closely related.

5. Take Action

In order to implement the chosen solution effectively, consider the following:

  • What will the situation look like when the problem is resolved?
  • What needs to be done to implement the solution? Are there systems or processes that need to be adjusted?
  • What will be the success indicators?
  • What are the timescales for the implementation? Does the scale of the problem/implementation require a project plan?
  • Who is responsible?

Once the answers to all the above questions are written down, they can form the basis of an action plan.

6. Monitor and Review

One of the most important factors in successful problem-solving is continual observation and feedback. Use the success indicators in the action plan to monitor progress on a regular basis. Is everything as expected? Is everything on schedule? Keep an eye on priorities and timelines to prevent them from slipping.

If the indicators are not being met, or if timescales are slipping, consider what can be done. Was the plan realistic? If so, are sufficient resources being made available? Are these resources targeting the correct part of the plan? Or does the plan need to be amended? Regular review and discussion of the action plan is important so small adjustments can be made on a regular basis to help keep everything on track.

Once all the indicators have been met and the problem has been resolved, consider what steps can now be taken to prevent this type of problem recurring? It may be that the chosen solution already prevents a recurrence, however if an interim or partial solution has been chosen it is important not to lose momentum.

Problems, by their very nature, will not always fit neatly into a structured problem-solving process. This process, therefore, is designed as a framework which can be adapted to individual needs and nature.

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  2. The 5 Steps of Problem Solving

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  4. The four stages of the creative problem-solving process.

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COMMENTS

  1. PDF Creative Problem Solving

    CPS is a comprehensive system built on our own natural thinking processes that deliberately ignites creative thinking and produces innovative solutions. Through alternating phases of divergent and convergent thinking, CPS provides a process for managing thinking and action, while avoiding premature or inappropriate judgment. It is built upon a ...

  2. 6.2 Creative Problem-Solving Process

    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 The process of creativity is not random; it is a specific and logical process that includes evaluation. The entrepreneur repeats the ...

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

    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.

  4. Creative Problem Solving

    Key Points. 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.

  5. Creative Problem Solving Process

    The simplest form of the creative problem solving process involves four steps: Clarify - define the objectives, the problem, the facts, and the opportunity to achieve. Ideate - brainstorm many possible solutions or approaches. Develop - further develop your ideas by turning them into experiments. Implement - create a plan and move ...

  6. Creative Problem-Solving Approach: Skills, Framework, 3 Real-life

    The CPS (Creative Problem Solving) process is a common creative problem-solving framework. The CPS process consists of the following steps: Clarify and Identify the Problem: The first step is clearly defining and understanding the problem you are trying to solve.Ask questions to determine the root cause of the problem and identify any underlying issues that may be contributing to it.

  7. How You Can Use Creative Problem Solving at Work

    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.

  8. How to Be a More Creative Problem-Solver at Work: 8 Tips

    8 Creative Problem-Solving Tips. 1. Empathize with Your Audience. A fundamental practice of design thinking's clarify stage is empathy. Understanding your target audience can help you find creative and relevant solutions for their pain points through observing them and asking questions.

  9. How to Use Creativity in Problem-Solving

    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 First Step in Innovative Problem-Solving. Harnessing creativity is the cornerstone of ...

  10. Creative Problem-Solving

    The creative problem-solving process Footnote 1 is a systematic approach to problem-solving that was first proposed by Alex Osborn in 1953 in his landmark book Applied Imagination.The approach went through several refinements over a period of five years. Osborn began with a seven-step model that reflected the creative process (orientation, preparation, analysis, hypothesis, incubation ...

  11. Creative problem solving: process, techniques, examples

    The creative problem-solving process usually consists of seven steps. The very first step in the CPS process is understanding the problem itself. You may think that it's the most natural step, but sometimes what we consider a problem is not a problem. We are very often mistaken about the real issue and misunderstood them.

  12. Osborn: Creative Problem-Solving Process

    The creative problem-solving process ideally comprises these procedures: (1) Fact -finding. (2) Idea -finding. (3) Solution -finding. Fact -finding calls for problem-definition and preparation. Problem-definition calls for picking out and pointing up the problem. Preparation calls for gathering and analyzing the pertinent data.

  13. TRIZ

    TRIZ is a system of creative problem solving, commonly used in engineering and process management. It follows four basic steps: Define your specific problem. Find the TRIZ generalized problem that matches it. Find the generalized solution that solves the generalized problem. Adapt the generalized solution to solve your specific problem.

  14. How to Align Your Team with CPS Session Goals

    Learn how to align your team with the goals of a creative problem solving session in four steps: define the problem, clarify the objectives, agree on the process, and establish the roles.

  15. How to Evaluate a Strategy for Creative Problem Solving

    Learn the steps to evaluate a strategy for creative problem solving, such as defining criteria, comparing alternatives, selecting, testing, and monitoring.

  16. The Problem-Solving Process

    Allocate Resources. Problem-solving is a mental process that involves discovering, analyzing, and solving problems. The ultimate goal of problem-solving is to overcome obstacles and find a solution that best resolves the issue. The best strategy for solving a problem depends largely on the unique situation. In some cases, people are better off ...

  17. How to Use Customer Journey Mapping for Creative Problem Solving

    The first step in any creative problem solving process is to empathize with your target audience and define the problem from their perspective. Customer journey mapping can help you do that by ...

  18. Creative Problem Solving

    The Creative Problem Solving (CPS) framework is a systematic approach for generating innovative solutions to complex problems. It's effectively a process framework. It provides a structured process that helps individuals and teams think creatively, explore possibilities, and develop practical solutions. The Creative Problem Solving process ...

  19. The Osborn Parnes Creative Problem-Solving Process

    The creative problem-solving process uses two thinking styles: divergent thinking and convergent thinking. "Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn't really do it, the just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while".

  20. Creative problem-solving

    Creative problem-solving (CPS) is the mental process of searching for an original and previously unknown solution to a problem. To qualify, the solution must be novel and reached independently. The creative problem-solving process was originally developed by Alex Osborn and Sid Parnes.Creative problem solving (CPS) is a way of using creativity to develop new ideas and solutions to problems.

  21. Understanding the four stages of the creative process

    Any creative process is a dance between the inner and the outer; the unconscious and conscious mind; dreaming and doing; madness and method; solitary reflection and active collaboration. Psychologists describe it in simple terms of inspiration (coming up with ideas) and generation (bringing ideas to life). In the four-stage model, we can see ...

  22. 3.3: Creative Problem-Solving Process

    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.

  23. Creative Problem Solving

    The tool includes an explanation of the four-step problem-solving process and an assessment that measures our preferences toward each step. According to FourSight, we all follow four steps when solving a problem: clarify, ideate, develop, and implement. Clarify: When we approach a problem, our first step is to clarify the nature of it.

  24. The 5 steps of the solving problem process

    The problem solving process typically includes: Pinpointing what's broken by gathering data and consulting with team members. Figuring out why it's not working by mapping out and troubleshooting the problem. Deciding on the most effective way to fix it by brainstorming and then implementing a solution. While skills like active listening ...

  25. Use Mindfulness and Reflection to Boost Creative Problem Solving

    Creative problem solving is a valuable skill for any brand strategist, as it allows you to generate original and effective solutions for your clients' challenges.

  26. What is Problem Solving? Steps, Process & Techniques

    1. Define the problem. Diagnose the situation so that your focus is on the problem, not just its symptoms. Helpful problem-solving techniques include using flowcharts to identify the expected steps of a process and cause-and-effect diagrams to define and analyze root causes.. The sections below help explain key problem-solving steps.

  27. The Problem-Solving Process

    Problem-solving is an important part of planning and decision-making. The process has much in common with the decision-making process, and in the case of complex decisions, can form part of the process itself. We face and solve problems every day, in a variety of guises and of differing complexity.