In all industries—from manufacturing and business to technology and health care—a creative approach to finding solutions equals opportunity. According to creative problem-solving expert Paul Reali, the concept “is a form of deliberate creativity: a structured process for solving problems or finding opportunities, used when you want to go beyond conventional thinking and arrive at creative (novel and useful) solutions.” Reali is the author of Creativity Rising: Creative Thinking and Creative Problem Solving in the 21st Century.
“Most entrepreneurial ventures and business startups are filled with creative problem-solving, as the founders face an endless stream of problems they haven’t yet solved and hadn’t even considered,” notes Reali.
- Decide you want to improve in coming up with creative solutions. “Robert Sternberg says that ‘creativity is a decision,’” notes Reali. So commit to it, which “might include giving yourself permission” to think in a new way.
- Find a creative process that fits the way you think and work. “There are different models and methods, but generally the four stages we go through to solve a problem are: clarify, ideate, develop and implement,” says Reali. Find your perfect fit by educating yourself on the topic. The Internet is a great place to check out new ideas or ways to solve problems.
- Set yourself up for success. This means beginning the process by restating your problem in a way that invites creative thinking. “I recommend this technique: Reframe the problem in multiple ways—a dozen or more ways—to uncover what is the true problem,” Reali advises.
“For example, ‘We are brand-new, and no one knows who we are’ is information; it’s not a solvable problem when stated that way. On the other hand, these are solvable problem frames: ‘How do we help people discover our business?’ and ‘How might we find our first customers?’”
- Read: Creativity Rising: Creative Thinking and Creative Problem Solving in the 21st Century by Paul Reali; Applied Imagination: Principles and Procedures of Creative Thinking, by Alex Osborn, the man who came up with the term “brainstorming.”
- Watch: TED Talk "Creative problem-solving in the face of extreme limits."
- Attend: Find a workshop at the Creative Education Foundation.