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A must have skill – Creative Problem Solving

What is Creative Problem Solving?

Creative problem solving has evolved since its inception in the 1950s. However, it is always a structured approach to finding and implementing solutions.

The creative problem-solving process involves creativity. The problem solvers come up with solutions that are innovative, rather than obtaining help to learn the answers or implementing standard procedures.

The creative problem-solving process is at work anytime you identify solutions that have value or that somehow improve a situation for someone.

What are the Steps in the Creative Solving Process?

The Creative Problem-Solving Process uses six major steps to implement solutions to almost any kind of problem. The steps are:

Information Gathering, or understanding more about the problem before proceeding.

The first step in the creative problem solving process is to gather information about the problem. In order to effectively solve the correct problem, you need to know as much about it as possible.

Problem Definition, or making sure you understand the correct problem before proceeding.

It is important to take care in defining the problem. The way that you define your problem influences the solution or solutions that are available. Problems often can be defined in many different ways. You must address the true problem when continuing the creative problem-solving process in order to achieve a successful solution. You may come up with a terrific solution, but if it is a solution to the wrong problem, it will not be a success.

Generating Possible Solutions using various tools.

Generating possibilities for solutions to the defined problem comes next in the process. It is important to generate as many solutions as possible before analyzing the solutions or trying to implement them. There are many different methods and idea-generating techniques, including free-association style brainstorming, brain-writing, mind mapping, and Duncker Diagrams.

Analyzing Possible Solutions, or determining the effectiveness of possible solutions before proceeding.

With many different solutions in hand, the problem solvers need to analyse those solutions to determine the effectiveness of each one. You should determine and consider what is the criteria or goals for solving the problem, as well as distinguishing between wants and needs. One of the most popular method of analysing solutions is cost/benefit analysis.

Selecting the Best Solution

The next step in the process is to select one or more solutions from the possibilities. In the previous step, you will have eliminated many of the possibilities. With a short list of possibilities, you can do a final analysis to come up with one or more of the best solutions to the problem.

Planning the Next Course of Action (Next Steps), or implementing the solution

Once you have selected one or more solutions to the problem, it is time to implement them. Look at identifying tasks and resources, and re-evaluating the solution and adapting as necessary.

For students who are interested in developing this skill, we recommend taking the Enterprise skill course Creative Problem Solving.

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