Creativity & Problem Solving – Step 2

By Paul R. Scheele Ph.D. | Learn

Exploring possible solutions is the best part of any problem-solving activity. But don’t let your enthusiasm send you down a blind alley.

Keep in mind:

  • Our current problems are the unintended consequences of our prevailing problem-solving approach.
  • The real challenge is to solve the way we solve our problems. Think of the goal of problem-solving as a “paradigm shift” to a higher-order of thinking.

Step 2: Generate Solutions

There is a remarkably easy way to accomplish this shift in thinking. Rather than accepting the first, second, or third solutions you generate, work to creatively generate up to 11 novel possibilities. Go for a minimum of 5 alternative workable solutions.

Our first 3 solutions will almost invariably make the most sense. But what makes the most sense comes from the view of the problem that also makes the most sense. That is, our ideas come from the mental model or problem-solving approach that lead us to the unintended consequence we are now trying to resolve.

Each time you generate a possible solution, let your thinking loop back to your definition of the problem. Did you just expand your problem definition? Did you suddenly realize additional barriers that might arise to implementing the solution?

The quick loop back to reflect more deeply on Step 1: Problem Definition, will keep expanding your mental complexity. That’s where the gold resides! Keep mining and breakthrough to creative insights will follow. Stay with the process and you will soon discover the unobvious or “unintuitive” moves that will get you to a workable solution.

Action Step
On problems you have started to address with an expanded problem definition, begin generating at least 5 possible solutions—ideally 11. Again, this step is both a rational and a creative process. Use your imagination and stay in the inquiry. Breakthrough is imminent!

In the next post in this series, we’ll explore how creativity plays into the effective implementation of creative solutions you generate.

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