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What Is Creative Problem-Solving & Why Is It Important?
- 01 Feb 2022
One of the biggest hindrances to innovation is complacency—it can be more comfortable to do what you know than venture into the unknown. Business leaders can overcome this barrier by mobilizing creative team members and providing space to innovate.
There are several tools you can use to encourage creativity in the workplace. Creative problem-solving is one of them, which facilitates the development of innovative solutions to difficult problems.
Here’s an overview of creative problem-solving and why it’s important in business.
What Is Creative Problem-Solving?
Research is necessary when solving a problem. But there are situations where a problem’s specific cause is difficult to pinpoint. This can occur when there’s not enough time to narrow down the problem’s source or there are differing opinions about its root cause.
In such cases, you can use creative problem-solving , which allows you to explore potential solutions regardless of whether a problem has been defined.
Creative problem-solving is less structured than other innovation processes and encourages exploring open-ended solutions. It also focuses on developing new perspectives and fostering creativity in the workplace . Its benefits include:
- Finding creative solutions to complex problems : User research can insufficiently illustrate a situation’s complexity. While other innovation processes rely on this information, creative problem-solving can yield solutions without it.
- Adapting to change : Business is constantly changing, and business leaders need to adapt. Creative problem-solving helps overcome unforeseen challenges and find solutions to unconventional problems.
- Fueling innovation and growth : In addition to solutions, creative problem-solving can spark innovative ideas that drive company growth. These ideas can lead to new product lines, services, or a modified operations structure that improves efficiency.
Creative problem-solving is traditionally based on the following key principles :
1. Balance Divergent and Convergent Thinking
Creative problem-solving uses two primary tools to find solutions: divergence and convergence. Divergence generates ideas in response to a problem, while convergence narrows them down to a shortlist. It balances these two practices and turns ideas into concrete solutions.
2. Reframe Problems as Questions
By framing problems as questions, you shift from focusing on obstacles to solutions. This provides the freedom to brainstorm potential ideas.
3. Defer Judgment of Ideas
When brainstorming, it can be natural to reject or accept ideas right away. Yet, immediate judgments interfere with the idea generation process. Even ideas that seem implausible can turn into outstanding innovations upon further exploration and development.
4. Focus on "Yes, And" Instead of "No, But"
Using negative words like "no" discourages creative thinking. Instead, use positive language to build and maintain an environment that fosters the development of creative and innovative ideas.
Creative Problem-Solving and Design Thinking
Whereas creative problem-solving facilitates developing innovative ideas through a less structured workflow, design thinking takes a far more organized approach.
Design thinking is a human-centered, solutions-based process that fosters the ideation and development of solutions. In the online course Design Thinking and Innovation , Harvard Business School Dean Srikant Datar leverages a four-phase framework to explain design thinking.
The four stages are:
- Clarify: The clarification stage allows you to empathize with the user and identify problems. Observations and insights are informed by thorough research. Findings are then reframed as problem statements or questions.
- Ideate: Ideation is the process of coming up with innovative ideas. The divergence of ideas involved with creative problem-solving is a major focus.
- Develop: In the development stage, ideas evolve into experiments and tests. Ideas converge and are explored through prototyping and open critique.
- Implement: Implementation involves continuing to test and experiment to refine the solution and encourage its adoption.
Creative problem-solving primarily operates in the ideate phase of design thinking but can be applied to others. This is because design thinking is an iterative process that moves between the stages as ideas are generated and pursued. This is normal and encouraged, as innovation requires exploring multiple ideas.
Creative Problem-Solving Tools
While there are many useful tools in the creative problem-solving process, here are three you should know:
Creating a Problem Story
One way to innovate is by creating a story about a problem to understand how it affects users and what solutions best fit their needs. Here are the steps you need to take to use this tool properly.
1. Identify a UDP
Create a problem story to identify the undesired phenomena (UDP). For example, consider a company that produces printers that overheat. In this case, the UDP is "our printers overheat."
2. Move Forward in Time
To move forward in time, ask: “Why is this a problem?” For example, minor damage could be one result of the machines overheating. In more extreme cases, printers may catch fire. Don't be afraid to create multiple problem stories if you think of more than one UDP.
3. Move Backward in Time
To move backward in time, ask: “What caused this UDP?” If you can't identify the root problem, think about what typically causes the UDP to occur. For the overheating printers, overuse could be a cause.
Following the three-step framework above helps illustrate a clear problem story:
- The printer is overused.
- The printer overheats.
- The printer breaks down.
You can extend the problem story in either direction if you think of additional cause-and-effect relationships.
4. Break the Chains
By this point, you’ll have multiple UDP storylines. Take two that are similar and focus on breaking the chains connecting them. This can be accomplished through inversion or neutralization.
- Inversion: Inversion changes the relationship between two UDPs so the cause is the same but the effect is the opposite. For example, if the UDP is "the more X happens, the more likely Y is to happen," inversion changes the equation to "the more X happens, the less likely Y is to happen." Using the printer example, inversion would consider: "What if the more a printer is used, the less likely it’s going to overheat?" Innovation requires an open mind. Just because a solution initially seems unlikely doesn't mean it can't be pursued further or spark additional ideas.
- Neutralization: Neutralization completely eliminates the cause-and-effect relationship between X and Y. This changes the above equation to "the more or less X happens has no effect on Y." In the case of the printers, neutralization would rephrase the relationship to "the more or less a printer is used has no effect on whether it overheats."
Even if creating a problem story doesn't provide a solution, it can offer useful context to users’ problems and additional ideas to be explored. Given that divergence is one of the fundamental practices of creative problem-solving, it’s a good idea to incorporate it into each tool you use.
Brainstorming is a tool that can be highly effective when guided by the iterative qualities of the design thinking process. It involves openly discussing and debating ideas and topics in a group setting. This facilitates idea generation and exploration as different team members consider the same concept from multiple perspectives.
Hosting brainstorming sessions can result in problems, such as groupthink or social loafing. To combat this, leverage a three-step brainstorming method involving divergence and convergence :
- Have each group member come up with as many ideas as possible and write them down to ensure the brainstorming session is productive.
- Continue the divergence of ideas by collectively sharing and exploring each idea as a group. The goal is to create a setting where new ideas are inspired by open discussion.
- Begin the convergence of ideas by narrowing them down to a few explorable options. There’s no "right number of ideas." Don't be afraid to consider exploring all of them, as long as you have the resources to do so.
The alternate worlds tool is an empathetic approach to creative problem-solving. It encourages you to consider how someone in another world would approach your situation.
For example, if you’re concerned that the printers you produce overheat and catch fire, consider how a different industry would approach the problem. How would an automotive expert solve it? How would a firefighter?
Be creative as you consider and research alternate worlds. The purpose is not to nail down a solution right away but to continue the ideation process through diverging and exploring ideas.
Continue Developing Your Skills
Whether you’re an entrepreneur, marketer, or business leader, learning the ropes of design thinking can be an effective way to build your skills and foster creativity and innovation in any setting.
If you're ready to develop your design thinking and creative problem-solving skills, explore Design Thinking and Innovation , one of our online entrepreneurship and innovation courses. If you aren't sure which course is the right fit, download our free course flowchart to determine which best aligns with your goals.
About the Author
- FutureLearn Local
Category: Career Development , General , Upskilling
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How to improve your creativity and problem-solving skills.
Find out how you can harness your creativity and how it can help boost your productivity in the workplace, as well as enhance your problem-solving skills.
Even if your career doesn’t seem to be a particularly creative one, you’ll often find that hiring managers look for examples of creativity and innovation in their employees. Curiosity and creativity often go hand-in-hand and can lead you to flourish in your role – from solving problems, to innovation in your approach. But how do you harness this essential soft skill?
Mindfulness is one of the top tips for creativity , and it can help improve the quality of thought and mental flexibility as well, but there are other methods you can use to improve your creativity in the workplace and help your critical thinking and problem-solving. Let’s take a look at why creativity is one of the most important soft skills you can have.
Why are soft skills important?
Soft skills often refer to both character traits and to interpersonal skills – effectively meaning the ways that you can communicate and work with others in a constructive way. Effective communication and teamwork skills are essential skills to have in nearly every workplace, and employers will be on the lookout for proven examples of these.
In fact, the World Economic Forum predicted that by 2025, critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity would rank among the most important soft skills to have in the workplace. Soft skills are used every day in the workplace, and developing your skillset will make you stand out to employers. Here are some of the ways that soft skills can help in the workplace:
- Increase in productivity – tasks will be completed more efficiently.
- Improved teamwork skills – employees will work better together.
- Better workplace communication – smoother operation of the business as a result of effective communication and teamwork.
- Better employee satisfaction – employees that communicate and work collaboratively will often have increased job satisfaction.
It’s not just in the office or classroom that soft skills are important though. Outside of the workplace, soft skills are essential for creating lasting bonds with other people and communicating your needs and desires. Problem-solving and decision-making techniques can also be applied professionally and personally.
What is creativity?
We’ve talked about creativity being an essential soft skill – but what is creativity? Essentially, creativity is the ability to consider a task or a problem in a different way. Similarly, it’s the process of using your intuition to try and formulate new ideas. It can help you solve complex problems and find different, more interesting ways to approach various tasks.
Having this openness to innovation and mental flexibility can take some time and effort. You can find out more about how you can adopt a creative mindset and overcome resistance to innovation with our Creativity and Innovation course.
Understanding creativity is about knowing how and when you can express and use this skill in the workplace. In addition, employers will take notice of candidates who can and have used it for different ways of problem-solving .
Why is creativity important?
Being creative is often essential to problem-solving, both in and out of the workplace. Creative problem-solving will prove you have the ability to approach an issue from every angle, rather than a simple linear, logical approach.
With such a large number of new technologies and new ways of working appearing at a rapid pace, companies have to tap into the creative energy of their employees in order to grow. Creative problem-solving will help teams to generate innovation – from uncovering new approaches to problems, developing new products, or improving existing processes.
- St George's, University of London Managing Innovation: Learning to Prototype for Business Find out more
- National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University Using Creative Problem Solving Find out more
Examples of creativity in the workplace
So how do you go about expressing your creative energy in the workplace? And how would you demonstrate your creativity in an interview or on a job application? Let’s take a look at some examples of creativity in the workplace.
Creativity in leadership
Creativity that is inspired from the top down often leads to a much more innovative mindset. In turn, this can increase employee loyalty and workplace value. A creative team leader will inspire others to be more creative in their work processes. This, in turn, will lead to members of the team feeling more comfortable with sharing their ideas.
Within team dynamics
Everyone expresses their creativity in different ways. Knowing, understanding, and nurturing these different strengths and weaknesses of each individual team member will lead to a more creative workflow. For some people, it creates a safe space for creative expression.
Many employees might feel daunted by the prospect of total creative freedom. If a psychological ‘safety net’ of sorts is implemented, such as having another team ready to ‘catch’ them if they ‘fall’, then employees will feel more comfortable with expressing their creativity. After all, one of the biggest risks of creativity is failure. With this framework in place, employees will be more open to taking risks.
Diversity of viewpoint is one of the most effective ways to not only tap into your creative energy, but also encourage others to think creatively and ponder solutions. Brainstorming and getting opinions from people who might not have felt like they had a voice is a really important way of inspiring creativity and solving problems.
Creativity and innovation
Creativity and innovation are the pathways to obtain better productivity , improved processes, and internal harmony within a business. Harnessing these two soft skills can lead to higher levels of success , and one complements the other – innovation requires implementation, so put your creative energies into practice and consider the results.
As with creativity, innovation can be tricky to spot in your team. Creative and innovative ideas can come from just about anywhere – it’s all about nurturing these as they come up and managing innovation when you can. But while they both can work off each other, it’s important to give them both space to grow independently from each other.
You can learn more about how you can Build a Leading Innovation Strategy with our free online course. Here, you can find out about trends in innovation, how to lead innovation projects, and how you can implement them in your workplace. It can even help you prove your innovation skills for things like job applications and interviews.
How to improve your creativity skills
As we’ve learned, creativity skills are really desirable for employers and can be incredibly useful in the workplace. So how do you go about improving your creative skills? Let’s go through some of the different ways that you can improve your creativity.
It’s worth remembering that many of us may express and develop our creativity in different ways. While some of these points may be useful for certain individuals, others may have different (and no less valid) ways of thinking.
Work on your self-awareness
Becoming self-aware and acknowledging the limitations of our own thought processes when it comes to creativity is the first step to becoming more creative and innovative. Know what you’re capable of and act upon it once you have this understanding.
Empathy is a key element in emotional intelligence and will allow you to understand the viewpoints of customers, clients, and co-workers. Practising creative empathy will result in more valuable, creative solutions to problems that might arise.
Expand your knowledge
Become an expert in your field and you’ll understand every angle of a problem. The more you know, the more you’ll be able to consider different ways of exploring solutions to problems. You can even end up with the skill to identify issues before they arise.
Draw on your previous experiences
Look to experiences you have had in the past, and harness your personal history to give you perspective on the situation at hand. What was the outcome of that past issue? How can you achieve similar or better results? Learn from the past and apply those lessons.
Collaborate with others
This is one of the best ways of conjuring creative solutions, as well as identifying potentially obvious solutions that may not have been tried before. Learn how to Improve your Creative Collaboration , and work out your role in your team.
What are problem-solving skills?
We’ve touched on using creativity to help with problem-solving, but what about out and out problem-solving skills? Problem-solving and decision-making techniques can help you to come to a swift resolution for any issue that might arise, and are key skills that employers look for when hiring.
The most effective problem-solving often happens when you work as a team. With our course on Problem-Solving Techniques , you’ll explore the tools you need to work as a team to find appropriate solutions, as well as giving you the chance to experiment with design thinking.
Problem-solving skills involve the employee quickly identifying any issues, coming up with suitable solutions for them, implementing those solutions, and reviewing how effective they were. Businesses need people who can accurately assess potential problems, and come up with solutions.
Why is problem-solving important?
Employers will often look for good problem-solving skills in a candidate because it shows you have a variety of different attributes. These include logic, resilience, determination, imagination, and, of course, creativity.
People with good problem-solving skills are often the ones who come up with new ideas, and consider different or better ways of completing a task. Good problem-solving skills can also help you to explain complex issues to other employees as you end up with a better, more rounded consideration of the matter at hand.
As the world of work embraces new technologies, it’s never been more important to understand how to solve problems in a creative way. There’s more scope for more moving parts to go wrong, so if you want to get more of a handle on Problem Solving in the Digital Age , join our ExpertTrack and develop your decision-making skills.
Examples of problem-solving in the workplace
Problem-solving is seen as a soft skill rather than a hard skill, although a lot of how you approach problem-solving can be learned. What’s more, you’ve probably already gathered these essential soft skills through previous roles and experiences.
If you’re in need of a refresher, or want to learn more about problem-solving, check out how you can use Creative Problem-Solving in your current role, from solving everyday problems all the way through to enhancing your creativity for problem-solving. Let’s take a look at some problem-solving examples, as taken from our open step on problem-solving and employability .
Define the problem
This is the first step in problem-solving. Figuring out the issue at hand will help you to understand the steps you need to take to solve the problem. If you have spent enough time teaching yourself about the intricacies of your role, you may even be able to predict the problem before it becomes a reality too.
Using any relevant previous experiences, as well as communicating with other t eam members , you’ll be able to come up with a suitable solution to the problem at hand. Working with others in a seamless and constructive way is essential in problem-solving.
Evaluate the solutions
Evaluating what you and your team have come up with is another important step, and will require you to make the final decision about the next steps in solving this problem. Which one is the most effective and most efficient solution to the issue? Thinking creatively here can help you come up with something you may not have considered.
Implement the solution
The next step involves putting the best solution into action. Working as a team will mean that you can perform this in a timely manner, and if you focus on the individual skills that each team member brings to the table, you’ll hopefully end up solving the problem quickly and easily.
Assess the solution
How effective was the solution you decided upon? Did it solve the problem in an efficient and timely manner? Consider the choices you made, and learn from both successes and failures, so you might be able to apply your knowledge in the future.
How to improve your problem-solving skills
So how do you go about improving your problem-solving skills? Honing these particular skills is a really great way to make yourself stand out from the pack when applying for jobs and attending interviews, as it will show how you can generate creative and efficient solutions to any problems that might arise, as well as recognising what needs to be done before taking action.
Improving your problem-solving skills doesn’t have to be a lengthy and difficult process, and can actually start with something as simple as rephrasing the problem. If your problem is ‘this project can’t work without having any money’, try rephrasing it into something like ‘how can this project work without any money’. Here are some other tips on improving your problem-solving skills.
Focus on the solution, not the problem
This is easier said than done. All too often, we focus on the problem at hand, and this generates negativity, which is a stumbling block to solving problems. By merely acknowledging the problem, and instead turning your focus to the solution, you’ll be able to formulate a game plan.
Define the problem as simply as possible
Often we end up overcomplicating things that are actually very simple. Consider what caused the problem, then take every detail apart and go right back to basics. By doing this, you could end up generating a really easy solution.
Brainstorms and teamwork
Once you have defined the problem, gather your team and work out as many different solutions as you can come up with. There are no wrong answers at this stage, so be sure to keep an open mind and encourage your team to tap into their creative side. There are various techniques you can try, such as the Delphi technique and the Stepladder technique .
Learn from the past
When you’re approaching a problem, consider any similarities it might have with a problem you managed to solve in a previous role. What did you do to solve this problem? Did it work? How could you improve on it? Learn from your successes and mistakes.
- Central Queensland University Business Etiquette: Master Communication and Soft Skills Find out more
- University of Leeds Evidence and Data Collection for Problem Solving Find out more
- St George's, University of London Creative Problem Solving: Design Thinking in Health and Social Care Find out more
Creativity and problem-solving skills are more important now than they’ve ever been before. Employers will be on the lookout for any potential employee who can demonstrate their creativity and innovation skills, as well as those who also have proven critical thinking skills and problem-solving skills.
Improving your knowledge and understanding in these two areas can make a huge difference to how you work, and how you collaborate with others as well. Now more than ever, teamwork is incredibly important in the modern workplace.
With LinkedIn’s 2019 Global Talent Trend Report stating that 92% of managers believe soft skills are just as important as hard skills, there’s never been a better time to improve your creativity and problem-solving skills.
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Creative Problem Solving: Out-of-the-box Solutions to Everyday Problems
Often we come across a dead-end while trying to solve a problem at workplace or home; either our understanding of the issue is wrong or we fail to approach it correctly. To be an effective problem solver, you need to bring in creativity to travel from the current situation to the desired one. We often associate the word ‘creative’ with certain jobs like writing, painting, designing etc. or activities like solving puzzles and word games. Well actually, any process that involves finding new solutions and a new approach, instead of following a routine method or an established solution path, is a creative process. So, whether you are a student, a professional or a businessman, creativity helps in addressing several of our challenges in an innovative way. If you’d like to learn more about different approaches to creative problem solving, this course can help you . Alternative, just read on. We’ll take a look at the different aspects of the Creative Problem Solving (CPS) methodology and how we can use it to look for interesting, out-of-the-box solutions to our problems.
What is Creative Problem Solving?
Creative problem solving is a technique to approach a problem or address a challenge in an imaginative way. Most of the time, we block our minds from thinking differently and find it easy to follow a certain norm so as to find quick, easy-fix solutions. However, in the long run these shortcuts and conventional approaches do not prove to be effective. Creative problem solving tools help us flex our minds, redefine the problems we face, find path-breaking ideas and take suitable actions thereafter. It’s all about overcoming our mind’s conceptual blocks and finding multiple solutions to effectively solve a problem that we face. You can take our unique course designed to help you get over your mental blocks and transform your life, with creative problem soling.
While creative problem solving is a structured approach, it gives users the flexibility to use it in innumerable ways for different kinds of situations. One classic example that demonstrates creative problem solving is the story of the Wright Brothers, who despite their several failures, learnt from their mistakes and overcame the challenges of wing shape and warping to make flying possible. They didn’t give up easily; instead they put in a lot of time into studying the problem and experimentation to finally build the first successful airplane.
Understanding the basic concepts of CPS is important in the overall adoption of this technique in our daily lives. Creative Problem Solving can be divided into three stages, involving the following 6 steps:
Explore the Challenge
1. Objective Finding
Identifying the goal or challenge and defining our desired output is the foundation to the CPS approach. Sometimes, we ignore certain important things about the problem or assume something to quickly solve it. This clouds our thinking process and we fail to look at the big picture. Defining the objective or goal gives a clear idea on the problem so that we can explore several solutions to it. This course on Goal Setting can show you how to set SMART goals to help achieve what you want .
2. Fact Finding
Gathering information on the problem and related data is crucial to understanding the problem. List down important details like who and what is involved, perceptions and assumptions, facts and feelings, opinions of interested parties etc. so that you can start forming ideas.
3. Problem Finding
From the gathered data and objective of the problem, find out the challenges that you might face and the various opportunities that exist inside of it. This helps you focus on the problem at hand; it’s very easy to divert from the objective and find answers to the wrong problems!
4. Idea Finding
It’s very easy to re-use a solution when we face a problem that we might have encountered before. Our mind comes across what we call as ‘conceptual blocks’ that consist of hurdles like constancy, commitment, compression and complacency. These stop us from thinking creatively and forming new ideas or concepts. Therefore, it’s very important to explore, brainstorm and find as many potential solutions as possible. If you find yourself stuck at any point, hop over to this course aptly called ‘The Idea Machine” to help rediscover your creativity .
Prepare for Action
5. Solution Finding
Once you’ve generated new ideas and listed down possible solutions, evaluate them to find out if they meet your criteria for success and whether they can be implemented. Improvise, strengthen and choose the best idea. Solutions should not only be creative but useful too! And sometimes, will power is the only solution. ( Check out this course that shows you how to strengthen your will power, to achieve any life goal .)
6. Acceptance Finding
You have chosen the best possible solution that’s actionable and meets the success criteria. Now you need to plan your action steps by clearly defining responsibilities and finding the best way to use the resources at hand. You call for action needs to be understood by everyone involved in the problem solving process to make it an accepted solution.
Creative problem solving skills are built over time by way of practice and using it in our thinking and working process. You may start small by using one step at a time to understand its effectiveness; once CPS becomes embedded in your thought process, you will find the various benefits of this approach. CPS helps us achieve higher performance in our jobs, solve problems effectively and find new opportunities hidden in the very problems that we are trying to solve. For more insights into how to enhance your creative thinking, check out this course.
Creative thinking is embedded in various aspects of our lives; from problem solving to designing, marketing to business development or innovation to research. You’ll be amazed to know that history has several examples wherein creativity helped in the formation of revolutionary ideas and inventions.
One such example of a successful CPS process is Xerox’s invention of the ‘GlossMarks’ technology. Initially, the researchers focused on overcoming the challenge of ‘differential gloss’ by defining the problem as ‘remove gloss from prints and photocopies’. However, this didn’t help them find a solution. Soon after, the problem statement was redefined as ‘produce innovative products’ to give a big picture perspective. This approach helped them come out with an innovative solution that’s called ‘GlossMarks’, which is used to embed a unique image in a document to prevent counterfeiting.
Creative problem solving techniques are widely applied in several fields like marketing, business development, branding, designing, entrepreneurship etc. If you are a marketing professional or business development executive, then you must surely explore the uses of creative problem solving methodology for greater effectiveness and innovative ideas. Let’s take a peak into the several ways that creative thinking can be used in businesses across industry verticals.
Creative marketing is not just about coming up with revolutionary marketing ideas; it involves a careful understanding of the markets, the target audience preferences and the building the brand equity of your client’s product in the right way. Right from brand positioning, brand development to brand management, creative marketing helps you understand the client’s business, create product image in the market and come up with innovative campaigns. For example, this course shows you some creative guerrilla marketing strategies.
To succeed in creative marketing, you not only need to be creative but also have good judgement and market awareness. Here are a few basic skills that one must possess to be an effective creative marketing professional:
- Good listening and lateral thinking skills
- Ability to understand client needs and deliver suitable solutions
- Good judgement and awareness of the markets
- Ability to identify product differentiation, market segments and creating the right marketing mix
- Strong concepts in effective marketing, advertising and branding
Creative marketing helps businesses develop a clear marketing strategy so that the right message is delivered to the customers in a compelling way. It helps you connect with your target customers effectively and deliver on your promises. If you need a prod, this course can help show you how to effectively listen to your customers .
Creative Training Techniques
Whether you are a trainer, designer or a project manager, you may have to impart training to your colleagues or team members to educate them on a new technology or develop new practices. Training sessions need to be designed in a creative way so that the audience finds it interesting and you’re able to deliver the message effectively. There are several creative training techniques that can be used in different situations. However, the basic principles remain same and need to address the following points:
- Sessions should be interactive and hold the audience’s attention
- Include practical examples and real-life stories to make it interesting
- Build rapport with your audience and show confidence
- Connect with the audience by way of powerful body language, Q&A sessions and other simple techniques to engage them
For an in-depth knowledge on how to create effective training sessions, take this course on Creative Training Techniques.
Creative Thinking for Entrepreneurs
If you are an entrepreneur looking to develop your business or network with potential clients, then creative thinking is the way to go. Formulating strategies and an effective business development plan is essential to the success of a start-up and creative thinking helps you do so. Often, entrepreneurs fear to take the road less traveled and end up with a series of ineffective decisions that hurts their business development. New ideas and fresh approaches are key to attract and retain customers, building long-lasting relations with them and increasing the visibility of your business.
Bringing a creative approach to problem solving and business development is necessary for a business to succeed in this competitive age. Apart from understanding your market and business goals, creative thinking helps you reflect internally on your strengths and weaknesses too. It helps you understand the areas that require strengthening, your business aptitude and marketing skills and equips you to generate new business ideas.
You will find several benefits of creative thinking in your business growth:
- Helps you understand your key strengths and weaknesses
- Addresses areas of improvement
- Makes you aware of opportunities and threats
- Gives you fresh approaches to attracting and retaining customers
- Equips you to handle challenges like conflict and change management effectively
- Helps you achieve inclusive growth, employee motivation and increased efficiencies
- Helps you identify new business areas and expansion ideas
A successful entrepreneur looks at the big picture instead of focusing on the conventional methods of business development; this is where creative thinking comes in. Learn more on effective business development strategies in our advanced course on Business Development for Entrepreneurs and Creative Thinkers.
No matter which industry you work in or at what stage of your professional life you are currently in, inspire others around you to think creatively. Take the creative approach to problem solving by adopting ideas and techniques that are off the beaten path!
Non verbal reasoning: perceive and understand situations better.
Problem Solving Activities to Prepare for the Unavoidable
Analytic philosophy for critical thinking and problem solving, share this article, top courses in problem solving.
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Creativity and Problem Solving
Jan 24, 2019
Problem solving can take up a lot of managerial time. So it makes sense for you to resolve problems before they develop, let alone grow to impact the bottom line. As a manager, you practice preventive management for just this reason. You understand how problems often can be identified in their early stages, even avoided. You know how important it is to analyze an operation or practice to determine where weaknesses can occur and then shore up these weaknesses or, better yet, develop procedures without such flaws. In short, as a savvy leader, you recognize that the best approach to problem solving is to avoid a serious problem in the first place. This isn’t easy but it is possible. Early problem detection and better problem solving demand that you:
- Create an environment in which employees are encouraged to use their initiative to remedy problems when they occur. Risk is allowed. Savvy managers aren’t risk adverse.
- Undertake problem sensing. The smart manager leads staff members in using a variety of techniques to locate problems and then determine the root cause, not just a symptom of the problem. Too often, as I demonstrated in my book The High-Value Manager , a problem reappears because its symptoms, not the reason for them, have been the focus of attention.
- View problems as opportunities and mistakes as progress. This involves turning traditional thinking about problems upside down. With some creativity, problems can lead to opportunities; mistakes in problem solving can be progress toward achieving these opportunities. A talented leader recognizes this and teaches creative thinking techniques to staff to stimulate their thinking outside the book, skills, abilities and knowledge that AMA covers in its project management programs.
- Practice techniques that enable you to choose the best solution from several good ones.
- Communicate solutions to the rest of the organization. The best managers share what their group has discovered to save other groups within the company from having to reinvent the wheel. Such trailblazing makes these managers heroes, but they communicate their discoveries because they are good corporate citizens and because they know everyone benefits from working in a secure work environment, no time better than now.
The manager gives truth to his or her talk of shared goals and leadership by allowing staff members to step out of their boxes and demonstrate in a supportive environment their personal creativity. After all, encouraging employee initiative makes sense. By allowing employees a more active role in problem solving, managers increase staff feelings of satisfaction with their jobs while freeing themselves to devote attention to planning or other leadership tasks. The foundations are laid for employees to resolve problems on their own—and regain employee engagement—when their manager includes staff in goal setting and development of action plans. If staff members are to address on their own problems they find as they do their work, they need that information. It helps them to make the right decisions and focus their energies where it will have the greatest return for the organization, but tapping into mission or goals isn’t always sufficient. Nor do bromides about the value of employee initiative constitute a supportive environment for out-of-the-box thinking for staff members. How does a manager create the kind of culture that encourages employees to use their initiative? They do this by:
- Keeping all lines of communication open. The more employees know about deadlines, difficulties with supplies, and the like, the better equipped they are to make intelligent decisions when problems arise.
- Listening. Listen to staff ideas. Make clear that you are interested in their suggestions.
- Give frequent, objective, and initiative-encouraging feedback. Even when a problem arises when an employee uses his or her initiative, don’t dwell so much on that lest you discourage further risk taking by your employee. Your staff need to b counseled on what specifically they did wrong and what specifically they did right, and coached, in general, on solving problems.
- Conducting ongoing training where it is evidently needed. If an employee makes a mistake in solving a problem, and it is likely that that problem might be encountered again, then you might want to have the person undergo training in that part of the solution where he or she is weak. Or perhaps you want to mentor the individual through that point in the problem solving where he or she is weak.
Undertake Problem Sensing
Most employees, whether independently or working in teams, want to move immediately to identifying solutions, so a key role as a leader of a team will be to hold the person or group back until it has thoroughly studied the problem or situation. Problem sensing begins by defining the nature of the problem. That entails focusing on the “what” or cause of the problem, maybe even putting the cause in writing. Once you do that you can move on to resolving the problem or suggest a new product idea that further research can confirm. Insight from employees may also be worth gathering. Just as in marketing, in which groups of potential customers are brought together to give feedback on a new product idea—focus groups—in problem solving you might want to hold focus groups with employees or those affected by a problem to get their ideas about the cause. There are a number of other techniques that can also be used. Most problems leave paper trails and careful analysis of printouts, marketing research, findings, and other data can cast a light on a problem or suggest a new product idea that further research can confirm. Of course, there are more sophisticated problem-sensing tools as well that you may want to bring to bear on the problem, like Pareto analysis, scatter diagrams, workflow diagrams, cause and effect diagrams, and variance analysis that will help you separate symptoms from causes. Such techniques are covered in AMA seminars on problem solving and project management. View Problems as Opportunities and Mistakes as Progress
We tend to think of problems as just that—problems. But from another perspective, some could be opportunities. It’s how we look at situations. Of course, to see problems as opportunities, one has to be extremely open-minded in examining the problem and identifying a solution, not limited in one’s thinking about a situation. Most actual problem solving is done with brainstorming. But there are other, lesser-known techniques that can help you look differently at problems—opportunities—then identify ways to maximize the value of these opportunities. Critical to doing this is how you define the problem. One helpful bit of advice is to write a problem statement down. Begin it with the words “how to,” then complete it with an appropriate verb. Naturally, the verb you choose will influence how you see the problem. Thus, a statement that begins “how to minimize” or “how to cope with” or “how to eliminate” sees the problem just as that, a problem, whereas a statement that begins “how to restore,” “how to maximize,” “how to gain,” how to accomplish,” or “how to enhance” suggests a more positive view of the problem. Choose the Best Solution
If you can, in any problem-solving effort, pretest your better ideas to identify the best. If you can’t run small pilot tests first, then choose the best idea, adjusting it as circumstances require. With an idea in mind, the next step is to develop a plan of action. That plan should specify what work still needs to be done and who “owns” what tasks associated with the mission, thereby improving strategic execution of the action plan. Incidentally, as a team leader, you may want to use the word ownership to put responsibility clearly on the person taking on the task.
Solutions are valuable. Time spent in identifying and successfully implementing them gives them tremendous worth, so share them with colleagues. Good ideas should never be hoarded; rather, as a savvy leader, you know that they should be shared with other areas of the organization. This sharing can take place at management meetings, through the corporate intranet, or at one-on-one lunch meetings. Where a solution might truly benefit a colleague, you might even send a staff member to the peer’s operation to work with that group to see that the idea is successfully implemented. Clearly, companies need to put a major effort on innovation to help them compete effectively. think, too, however of the opportunities that come from improved procedures and systems and use these guidelines to make use of the creativity of your talented workforce to save money, improve productivity, and increase profits by addressing current shortcomings in operations. They are the low-hanging fruit. Grab them.
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Creativity and Problem-Solving Skills in Nursing
Published On: December 12, 2019
Nursing is a profession that blends science and art, research and creativity. Though nurses rely on clinical expertise and experience in a variety of situations, those with problem-solving skills are better equipped to serve their patients. By thinking creatively, asking the right questions and considering multiple options, nurses will be able to solve problems much more effectively.
Those who use problem-solving skills see problems not as obstacles but as opportunities to improve their patients' health and well-being . Nurses who have completed an online RN to BSN program understand how to draw upon their creative abilities and critical thinking skills to improve their practice.
According to an article from the National Institutes of Health, nurses use critical thinking to evaluate, analyze and synthesize information. They take this information, and their experience, to create a plan of action. Nurses who employ problem-solving skills begin with critical thinking. When there are no clear answers or courses of action, nurses can rely on their creativity to come up with new solutions and make decisions.
Combined with creativity, critical thinking can help nurses solve specific patient problems as well as system-wide challenges. When traditional measures are not effective, creative professionals are able to generate ideas rapidly, be flexible in their approach, act with confidence without direct supervision, and react well under pressure.
The world of healthcare is becoming more varied and complex. The new role of nurses requires them to work across disciplines, incorporating more professionals into the care plan of their patients. Nurses who have completed an online RN to BSN program will be well-versed in problem-solving approaches such as evidence-based practice. By incorporating their clinical experience, knowledge and the preferences of the patient, nurses can provide the best care.
Nurses who employ evidence-based practice will see improved patient outcomes for those in their care, according to a Nursing World report. Healthcare providers who stay abreast of the most recent research increase positive outcomes for patients. This means that more patients return home sooner.
Steps to Evidence-Based Practice
The Academy for Medical-Surgical Nurses shows the steps taken by nurses who use evidence-based practice to care for patients. First, they determine the problem and formulate a question. The second step is reviewing the evidence, which helps determine what treatment is most appropriate using existing knowledge. The third is implementation, which means beginning the actual treatment. The fourth step is evaluating the plan by reassessing the patient at pre-determined intervals.
What Does This Look Like in Practice?
A key attribute for any successful healthcare practitioner is the ability to turn obstacles into opportunities for better patient care. In addition, good nurses are those who can learn from past experiences and incorporate those lessons into the care of future patients.
Highly educated nurses who have completed an online RN to BSN program have the skills to make problem-solving a more natural part of their practice. These nurses hold the key to a more responsive healthcare environment and a healthier patient population.
Learn more about the URI online Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing program .
Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses: Evidence-Based Practice
The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing: The Impact of Evidence-Based Practice in Nursing and the Next Big Ideas
Acta Informatica Medica: Critical Thinking: The Development of an Essential Skill for Nursing Students
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How to Be More Creative
Kendra Cherry, MS, is an author and educational consultant focused on helping students learn about psychology.
Creativity is all about finding new ways of solving problems and approaching situations. This isn't a skill restricted to artists, musicians, writers, or "right-brained" thinkers; it is a useful skill for people from all walks of life . If you've ever wanted to boost your creativity , these tips can help.
What Is Creativity?
Creativity is the ability to come up with or recognize ideas to solve problems, communicate with others, or entertain.
Commit Yourself to Creativity
The first step to increasing creativity is to devote yourself to developing your creative abilities. Do not put off your efforts. Set goals, enlist the help of others, and put aside time each day to develop your skills. For example, if you are interested in painting, schedule time regularly to learn and practice your skills.
Become an Expert
One of the best ways to develop creativity is to become an expert in this area. By having a rich understanding of the topic, you will be better able to think of novel or innovative solutions to problems. One way to develop expertise is by reading about creative people and listening to them speak.
Reward Your Curiosity
One common roadblock to developing creativity is the sense that curiosity is an indulgence. Rather than reprimanding yourself for following an internet rabbit hole, reward yourself when you are curious about something. Give yourself the opportunity and the time to explore new topics.
Rewarding yourself is important, but developing intrinsic motivation is also crucial. Sometimes, the true reward of creativity is the process itself, not the product.
When it comes to building your creative skills, you must be willing to take risks to advance your abilities. Although your efforts may not lead to success every time, you will still be boosting your creative talents and building skills that will serve you well in the future.
For example, sharing your work in a creative writing course might feel intimidating. But the critique you receive from classmates and teachers can be invaluable.
Build Your Confidence
Insecurity in your abilities can suppress creativity, which is why it is important to build confidence. Note your progress, commend your efforts, and always be on the lookout for ways to reward your creativity.
Make Time for Creativity
You won't be able to develop your creative talents if you don't make time for them. Schedule some time each week to concentrate on some type of creative project.
Overcome a Negative Attitude
Focus on eliminating negative thoughts or self-criticisms that may impair your ability to develop strong creative skills. Recognize these as roadblocks and work to overcome them.
Fight Fear of Failure
The fear that you might make a mistake or fail in your efforts can paralyze progress. Whenever you find yourself harboring such feelings, remind yourself that mistakes are simply part of the process. While you may occasionally stumble on your path to creativity, you will eventually reach your goals.
Brainstorm New Ideas
Brainstorming is a common technique in both academic and professional settings, but it can also be a powerful tool for increasing creativity.
Start by suspending your judgment and self-criticism. Then start writing down related ideas and possible solutions. The goal is to generate as many ideas as possible in a relatively short span of time. Next, focus on clarifying and refining your ideas in order to arrive at the best possible choice.
As unlikely as this may seem, recent research points to dim light as a trigger for creativity. Darkness may free you from perceived constraints and encourage you to take creative risks that may seem intimidating in bright lighting.
Explore Multiple Solutions
The next time you approach a problem , try looking for a variety of solutions. Instead of simply going with the first idea you have, take the time to think of other possible ways to approach the situation. This simple activity is a great way to build both problem-solving and creative thinking skills.
Keep a Creativity Journal
Start keeping a journal to follow your creative process and track the ideas you produce. A journal is a great way to reflect back on what you have accomplished and look for other possible solutions. This journal can be used to save ideas that can later serve as future inspiration.
Use Mind Maps and Flow Charts
A mind map is a way to connect ideas and look for innovative answers to questions. Create a mind map by writing down a central topic or word. Next, link related terms or ideas around the central word. While similar to brainstorming, this technique allows for branching ideas and offers a very visual way of seeing how ideas are linked.
As you start to develop a new project, create a flow chart to track the project from start to finish. Look for various paths or sequences of events that might occur. A flow chart can help you visualize the final product, eliminate potential problems, and create unique solutions.
Challenge Yourself and Create Opportunities
Once you have developed some basic creative skills, it is important to continually challenge yourself to further advance your abilities. Look for more difficult approaches, try out new things, and avoid always returning to the same solutions you have used in the past.
In addition to challenging yourself, you also need to create your own opportunities for creativity. This might involve tackling a new project or finding new tools to use in your current projects.
Try the Six Hats Technique
The "six hats" technique involves looking at a problem from six differing perspectives. By doing this, you can produce more ideas than you might have had you only looked at the situation from one or two points of view.
- Black hat : Use a negative perspective. Which elements of the solution won’t work?
- Blue hat : Think broadly. What is the best overall solution?
- Green hat : Think creatively. What are some alternative ideas?
- Red hat : Look at the situation emotionally. What do your feelings tell you?
- White hat : Look at the situation objectively. What are the facts?
- Yellow hat : Use a positive perspective. Which elements of the solution will work?
Look for Inspiration
Never expect creativity to just happen. Look for new sources of inspiration that will give you fresh ideas and motivate you to generate unique answers to questions. Read a book, visit a museum, listen to your favorite music or engage in a lively debate with a friend.
Use whatever strategy or technique works best for you. Do you enjoy video games? Research indicates that playing video games can help increase your creativity.
Consider Alternative Scenarios
When approaching a problem, ask "what if..." questions to consider each possible scenario. If you take a specific approach, what will the outcome be?
By looking at these alternatives beforehand, you'll be better able to develop creative solutions to problems.
Try the Snowball Technique
Have you ever noticed how one great idea often leads directly to another? You can take advantage of this by using a "snowball technique" when you are generating ideas for a project. If an idea isn't appropriate for your current work, set it aside to work on later, or implement it in a future project.
Franken RE. Human Motivation . 3rd ed. Brooks/Cole Publishing Company.
Steidle A, Werth L. Freedom from constraints: Darkness and dim illumination promote creativity . J Environ Psychol . 2013;35:67-80. doi:10.1016/j.jenvp.2013.05.003
Tilly M. How to create a mind map (+examples) . The Institute of You.
De Bono E. Six Thinking Hats . Penguin, Limited.
Blanco-Herrera JA, Gentile DA, Rokkum JN. Video games can increase creativity, but with caveats . Creat Res J . 2019;31(2):119-131. doi:10.1080/10400419.2019.1594524
By Kendra Cherry Kendra Cherry, MS, is an author and educational consultant focused on helping students learn about psychology.
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7 Problem-Solving Skills That Can Help You Be a More Successful Manager
Discover what problem-solving is, and why it's important for managers. Understand the steps of the process and learn about seven problem-solving skills.
1Managers oversee the day-to-day operations of a particular department, and sometimes a whole company, using their problem-solving skills regularly. Managers with good problem-solving skills can help ensure companies run smoothly and prosper.
If you're a current manager or are striving to become one, read this guide to discover what problem-solving skills are and why it's important for managers to have them. Learn the steps of the problem-solving process, and explore seven skills that can help make problem-solving easier and more effective.
What is problem-solving?
Problem-solving is both an ability and a process. As an ability, problem-solving can aid in resolving issues faced in different environments like home, school, abroad, and social situations, among others. As a process, problem-solving involves a series of steps for finding solutions to questions or concerns that arise throughout life.
The importance of problem-solving for managers
Managers deal with problems regularly, whether supervising a staff of two or 100. When people solve problems quickly and effectively, workplaces can benefit in a number of ways. These include:
Increased job fulfillment
Satisfied clients or customers
Better cooperation and cohesion
Improved environments for employees and customers
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7 skills that make problem-solving easier
Companies depend on managers who can solve problems adeptly. Although problem-solving is a skill in its own right, a subset of seven skills can help make the process of problem-solving easier. These include analysis, communication, emotional intelligence, resilience, creativity, adaptability, and teamwork.
As a manager , you'll solve each problem by assessing the situation first. Then, you’ll use analytical skills to distinguish between ineffective and effective solutions.
Effective communication plays a significant role in problem-solving, particularly when others are involved. Some skills that can help enhance communication at work include active listening, speaking with an even tone and volume, and supporting verbal information with written communication.
3. Emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize and manage emotions in any situation. People with emotional intelligence usually solve problems calmly and systematically, which often yields better results.
Emotional intelligence and resilience are closely related traits. Resiliency is the ability to cope with and bounce back quickly from difficult situations. Those who possess resilience are often capable of accurately interpreting people and situations, which can be incredibly advantageous when difficulties arise.
When brainstorming solutions to problems, creativity can help you to think outside the box. Problem-solving strategies can be enhanced with the application of creative techniques. You can use creativity to:
Approach problems from different angles
Improve your problem-solving process
Spark creativity in your employees and peers
Creative Thinking: Techniques and Tools for Success
In today’s ever-growing and changing world, being able to think creatively and innovatively are essential skills. It can sometimes be challenging to step ...
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Adaptability is the capacity to adjust to change. When a particular solution to an issue doesn't work, an adaptable person can revisit the concern to think up another one without getting frustrated.
Finding a solution to a problem regularly involves working in a team. Good teamwork requires being comfortable working with others and collaborating with them, which can result in better problem-solving overall.
Steps of the problem-solving process
Effective problem-solving involves five essential steps. One way to remember them is through the IDEAL model created in 1984 by psychology professors John D. Bransford and Barry S. Stein [ 1 ]. The steps to solving problems in this model include: identifying that there is a problem, defining the goals you hope to achieve, exploring potential solutions, choosing a solution and acting on it, and looking at (or evaluating) the outcome.
1. Identify that there is a problem and root out its cause.
To solve a problem, you must first admit that one exists to then find its root cause. Finding the cause of the problem may involve asking questions like:
Can the problem be solved?
How big of a problem is it?
Why do I think the problem is occurring?
What are some things I know about the situation?
What are some things I don't know about the situation?
Are there any people who contributed to the problem?
Are there materials or processes that contributed to the problem?
Are there any patterns I can identify?
Computational Thinking for Problem Solving
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2. Define the goals you hope to achieve.
Every problem is different. The goals you hope to achieve when problem-solving depend on the scope of the problem. Some examples of goals you might set include:
Gather as much factual information as possible.
Brainstorm many different strategies to come up with the best one.
Be flexible when considering other viewpoints.
Articulate clearly and encourage questions, so everyone involved is on the same page.
Be open to other strategies if the chosen strategy doesn't work.
Stay positive throughout the process.
3. Explore potential solutions.
Once you've defined the goals you hope to achieve when problem-solving , it's time to start the process. This involves steps that often include fact-finding, brainstorming, prioritizing solutions, and assessing the cost of top solutions in terms of time, labor, and money.
4. Choose a solution and act on it.
Evaluate the pros and cons of each potential solution, and choose the one most likely to solve the problem within your given budget, abilities, and resources. Once you choose a solution, it's important to make a commitment and see it through. Draw up a plan of action for implementation, and share it with all involved parties clearly and effectively, both verbally and in writing. Make sure everyone understands their role for a successful conclusion.
5. Look at (or evaluate) the outcome.
Evaluation offers insights into your current situation and future problem-solving. When evaluating the outcome, ask yourself questions like:
Did the solution work?
Will this solution work for other problems?
Were there any changes you would have made?
Would another solution have worked better?
As a current or future manager looking to build your problem-solving skills, it is often helpful to take a professional course. Consider Improving Communication Skills offered by the University of Pennsylvania on Coursera. You'll learn how to boost your ability to persuade, ask questions, negotiate, apologize, and more.
You might also consider taking Emotional Intelligence: Cultivating Immensely Human Interactions , offered by the University of Michigan on Coursera. You'll explore the interpersonal and intrapersonal skills common to people with emotional intelligence, and you'll learn how emotional intelligence is connected to team success and leadership.
Ready to start learning?
Join the Coursera Plus community and get unlimited access to over 7,000 courses, hands-on projects, and Professional Certificates on Coursera, taught by top instructors from leading universities and companies.
Tennessee Tech. “ The Ideal Problem Solver (2nd ed.) , https://www.tntech.edu/cat/pdf/useful_links/idealproblemsolver.pdf.” Accessed December 6, 2022.
This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.
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- Phillip Tanzilo
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About Onsite Training What is onsite training?
The Full List See all onsite courses.
Locations Find out where we can deliver training.
Thinking, planning, and problem solving training courses and workshops, instructor-led programs . delivered onsite, the benefits of learning creative and critical thinking skills.
People and organizations thrive on innovative ideas, fresh perspectives, and new answers to old problems.
Critical thinking courses can help ensure teams are defining problems correctly and avoiding faulty thinking. Innovation and creativity workshops can teach people to see problems differently and craft viable solutions to workplace challenges.
If your organization could benefit from learning some new tools, one of our instructor-led training offerings may be the answer.
About Our Creativity, Critical Thinking, and Problem-Solving Programs
Our courses explore a range of planning, problem-solving, and decision-making skills. These workshops are designed to help teams develop their ability to see information through a range of lenses and methodically approach data.
The programs outline various creativity and ideation techniques, provide an overview of the process of critical thinking and its value, offer practice with problem-solving methodologies, explore innovation and decision making, and provide a forum and process for crafting a strategic plan.
Our Workshop Facilitators
The members of our team who facilitate this suite of workshops are practiced at leading groups through the tools each program offers. These workshop leaders are flexible and able to adjust the agenda as needed depending on the level of mastery the group achieves using each tool.
Our Interactive Approach to Training
We firmly believe in learning by doing, and we know the best way to master new techniques and tools is to practice them. For that reason, our workshops are activities based and hands on. During our sessions, participants can expect to solve a range of workplace problems as they practice new methods of generating ideas, defining problems, evaluating options, and making decisions.
To explore our existing onsite training options, review the short descriptions found on this page. For more detailed information, click on the course titles to read the full workshop outlines.
We can conduct our workshops as described in the course overviews, tailor them to address specific issues, or fully customize content to meet your business needs.
Please get in touch , and we can schedule some time to learn more about your organization, what’s important to you, and your goals and objectives for training. We look forward to hearing from you.
Note: When evaluating the available programs, you’ll notice we offer some courses in multiple lengths. The primary difference between the shorter and longer options is the depth to which we explore the concepts and the number of exercises and activities we choose for your program.
Ah Ha! Learning to Think Critically and Creatively: Techniques for Sparking Ideas, Solving Problems, and Rethinking the Status Quo
Format: Full-Day Training Course , Multi-Day Training Course
Get Juiced!: Creative Thinking from the Inside Out
Critical considerations: three hours to better thinking.
Format: Half-Day Training Course
Design thinking 101: an introduction to user-centric problem solving.
Format: Full-Day Training Course
Collaborative thinking skills: driving teams toward better results.
Innovative Thinking: Team Creativity and Problem Solving
This, that, what is it: defining problems and making decisions.
The better business workshop: strategic planning for organizational success.
Critical Thinking and Problem Solving in Customer Service
Smarter service: leveraging critical thinking, creativity, and problem solving for a better customer experience.
“Phillip was engaging and professional. I had many people who were in the session tell me that they enjoyed it.”
“The team was quite impressed with your materials and more importantly delivery style. I feel like we all took something positive away from the course which is all I can ever ask for.”
“Both sessions went great. They were informative and very interactive and Myla was able to engage the participants throughout the entire presentation. She is a wonderful instructor!”
“Phillip was a great presenter. He kept the class moving forward and kept us all engaged and participating. We all got a lot out of the training and hope to have him back again for follow up.”
“We also appreciate how well prepared you (Phillip) are, and that the subject matter is addressed in substantive way that has real impact. Your style has that special something that really engages people.”
“Business Training Works made this project extremely easy for me. Not only did they customize content for us, but they delivered it well and provided a great train-the-trainer session. It was truly an effortless experience for us!”
“Greg was awesome! Very informative and interactive. He got rave reviews from the participants.”
“It was a pleasure to work with Charlie last week. He was fantastic, and I have received great responses from the participants about the training!”
“Everyone really enjoyed it and came away with tools to help them be a stronger leader! Thank you, Greg!”
“Kate rhymes with great, and that’s what she was. This was a great class and Kate was the best. We recommend her every time. I took this class years ago with her and she makes the information stick.”
“The course has been tremendously helpful to my staff, and I am very grateful for Regina’s knowledge and generosity. She really shared her talents and experience freely, and provided what was needed to reset our team dynamics.”
“I LOVED Kate. She was an incredible speaker and her ability to educate is a show stopper. Learning about my own communication style was invaluable and I truly believe that I am going to use this information for the rest of my professional career.”
“Pamela was very engaging. The training was well presented and held the group’s attention. The feedback I got from my staff was that it was useful not only in work but in their personal lives as well.”
“I have been in several training sessions, and I have to say this has been the best one. We were all engaged in the topics. Regina’s materials were relevant to our jobs. She started on time, and the time flew by.”
“In each of the sessions that ZMC has hired Business Training Works, I have learned something new — even with the same topic. This is the 10th session we have scheduled, and we always ask for Shawn.”
“Our customer service manager of 21 years stated that this training was the best and the most relevant class she attended in her career.”
“Stefanie was upbeat, engaging, and relatable. She even kept the momentum going through an unexpected room change towards the end of our session. My colleagues cannot stop commenting how amazing the training was, and we are energized to put our new skills to work. Rave reviews all around!”
“I just wanted to send out an email to express our appreciation for the service that Greg provided. He was a very motivated and inspirational speaker. We really, and I seriously mean this, enjoyed him. We are going to adapt some of our training procedures to fit his suggestions.”
“Laurie, as always, was AMAZING!”
“I’m usually quiet in group discussions, but I enjoyed this course so much, I participated quite a bit.”
“The workshop was appreciated very much, and you (Stefanie) were indeed a big hit. Thank you for all your support and value you brought this team. I look forward to another opportunity to work with you, you were an absolute delight.”
“Pamela was a gem! We really enjoyed it. The one main piece of feedback I got was they wanted more time.”
“Pamela did a great job of engaging our participants in the training. They all had very positive feedback about the day and Pamela specifically. She was approachable and easy to relate to and was able to illustrate the points in a way that the team understood.”
“Board presentation went well. ”Excellent” according to our chairman. Thanks for your training.”
“It was a positive experience to have this training, very useful to understanding myself as a provider and patients. Laurie was engaging as a speaker. I learned to approach patient care differently seeing patients as different and not “difficult.” I took away key points and different strategies to use in my interactions with patients, just a matter of finding the time to make adjustments and implement these changes.”
“I liked that fact that we were kept busy – it never got boring.”
“The training was amazing! Everyone was enthusiastic and we learned so much. They’re already asking when you’re coming back. You are a true gem!!”
“Thomas Farley’s facilitation of the storytelling module was very engaging and effective. He started the session telling his own story. He asked participants to share their stories, and he respectfully critiqued them using this technique as a teaching tool.”
“Pamela is awesome. She has that perfect blend of knowledge, credibility, and personal skills to deliver very effective training across a wide variance of personalities.”
“I would like to say that yesterday was simply amazing. Our team is very happy with the training and the content that was presented. Thomas was exactly who we needed to address our etiquette training needs. Our team was receptive and the activities were fun and engaging. I would definitely recommend Thomas to anyone looking to enhance their team with etiquette training.”
“Myla was very professional and brought subject matter expertise to the training. My team really respected her and had nothing but positive things to say about her.”
“Pamela was amazing and extremely personable. She made the groups feel very comfortable during the training.”
“We cannot thank Stefanie enough for the fabulous presentation she delivered to our reception staff and directors of housing. We had plenty of great feedback from fellow colleagues regarding the presentation, and we’ve already had individuals implementing information they learned from the presentation. We sincerely appreciated all of Stefanie’s hard work delivering a quality presentation to a diverse group of individuals.”
“Pamela and Business Training Works put together a wonderful training program for ACERTUS. Pamela was able to create a curriculum that completely met our needs on such a short timeline. I am looking forward to working with them again!”
“I wanted to reach out to you regarding Phillip and what wonderful experience it was for our teams to have him as our facilitator for the team building and cross-cultural communication course last Friday. He’s a very talented and engaging trainer, and he was able to get even our toughest employees to participate. Everyone really liked Phillip and enjoyed the course.”
“I wasn’t sure what to expect and found it to be awesome. I am in business development and while I consider myself to be somewhat refined/savvy, I walked away with so many things to up my game while with clients and the number one lesson and tie back point is that it is 100% about making the client feel comfortable and special. What we do, how we act, how we present ourselves all feeds into that and our ultimate success as sales professionals.”
“We had an amazing day today! Everyone I spoke to during the day today said they were really enjoying the session (as did I). Charlie did a fantastic job. Thank you both for a great experience!”
“Great performance by Shawn! Shawn Doyle is a great presenter, and teaches you just by presenting himself.”
“Yesterday’s workshop was both thoroughly enjoyable and tremendously beneficial. From all accounts, it was a productive, engaging, and substantive experience from which participants were able to glean significant professional insights and lessons for best practices in their field.”
“Thank you for yet another great presentation. Myla was wonderful and our team really appreciated the opportunity to work with her.”
“Thank you again for working with us last week. As always, the team loved the session, and I’ve been hearing great feedback. The change in the leadership team’s behavior, even since just last week, is noticeable. The executive team and I have literally had people coming up to us all week talking about how excited they are for the future, how they believe in where we are headed, and thanking us for what’s being done. As a business leader, this time period is truly a career highlight for me. I can’t thank you enough.”
“A pleasure doing business with Business Training Works on our seminar.”
“Phillip, you are the best! Loved every minute and the fun interactive aspect of our workshop exceeded my expectation. Looking forward to the LA workshop next month.”
“As I sit here listening to Laurie, I am thinking that we couldn’t have asked for a better facilitator!!! Wanted to say a quick thank you for your exceptional “customer service” in dealing with us.”
“Kate was a refreshing start to 2020! Very energetic and captivating the entire session. Moments of reflection, laughter, and engagement made this a great FLAG kickoff to the year!”
“Greg Jones was a DYNAMITE presenter! He was fun, knowledgeable, and engaging and had our large group of 50+ people laughing and participating right up until the 5:00 PM end time. I am always impressed when a facilitator can keep a group engaged and involved WITHOUT using PPT and Greg did just that with his handouts, flip charting, storytelling and mixing up activities at table groups, teams, and with partners. We would love to have him back!”
“Laurie McIntosh brings her personal experience into the training which was invaluable.”
“The course was high-quality, first-class, first-rate, superior, fine, excellent and hence forth. Charles’ way of teaching was pleasant, exceptional, superb, and commendable. My department will speak well about this course for a while. Thank you so much for the quality of training and attention to detail. We are excited to use the tools created by zombies. However, in all seriousness the course was facio delicias and nuntiisque (fun and informative in Latin). I look forward to using your company in the future.”
“I heard a lot of positive feedback and several people approached me about your contact info for following up. I know we had a short amount of time for the training but I know I found it valuable and I think the rest of the group did too.”
“Eduardo was an excellent facilitator. I took so much with me to apply to my job responsibilities that will enhance my thinking as I resolve difficult callers and issues. Eduardo was very interactive with the group and had excellent ideas to promote thinking and participation. He is the greatest facilitator I have ever worked with!”
“Pamela Sumner is professional, warm, and highly educated. Her style translates to small groups as well as large formal settings. She is definitely an asset to BTW.”
“Stefanie is knowledgeable, credible, fun and engaging as a facilitator.”
“WOW – where do I begin!? Working with you both has been an outstanding experience throughout the entire process. Your flexibility from first contact was very valuable – we appreciate your willingness to participate in multiple teleconferences to align with KMG.
Your ability to link KMG’s message and philosophies to the lessons is what set you apart from your competitors.
Kate’s energy and willingness to meet as many of the attendees as possible and her ability to quickly build a rapport with folks established credibility and a safe environment. Everyone valued the ‘informalness’ of the key note.
The Tuesday workshop was phenomenal! I saw people taking notes that I never would have imagined would be engaged.
Fantastic result overall – thank you so very much!”
“Shawn was an excellent facilitator. After our class he took the time to look over the questions we use during our interview and provided positive feedback. I highly recommend Shawn and this course, ‘How to Interview and Hire Well’.”
“We did enjoy the class and yes, I am excited to work with you to bring in more. Charles is a great teacher, I would like to have him teach them.”
“Thank you Kate, Chris, and Kathy! It was a pleasure working with you, and thank you for providing some valuable insights for our SES!”
The Business Training Works Difference
When you team with us, you’ll get:
- A partner who will ask questions about your goals and objectives.
- An opportunity to have a tailoring call and to speak with the program facilitator prior to a workshop.
- Interactive facilitation conducted by someone who has a deep understanding of adult learning and the topic at hand.
- A post-training web-based skills check-in meeting if desired.
- People behind the scenes who will work to make our relationship a success.
You won’t get:
- A workshop leader who sells products during class time.
- A talking head with a PowerPoint presentation and not much else.
- Lecture-based training that’s too academic, not practical, and doesn’t connect to life in the workplace.
- The sense that you are a number, a transaction, or a cog in a machine.
Onsite Training Course Reminders
Our instructor-led training courses are available to private groups. These workshops are not offered in a public seminar format. Please contact us to speak with a facilitator about your needs and bringing training to your organization.
We also travel to Africa, Australia and New Zealand, Asia, Canada, Central America, Continental Europe, the Middle East, and the United Kingdom.
Please contact us about your location.
- For information about pricing, please see our fee schedule .
- For instructor-led webinars, take a look at our virtual classroom programs .
- For information about self-paced courses available to anyone, visit our online courses catalog .
- For free resources, check out our resources pages .
ONSITE CREATIVITY, CRITICAL THINKING, INNOVATION, AND DECISION-MAKING TRAINING CATALOG COURSES . CLASSES . WORKSHOPS . SEMINARS . PROGRAMS
What Are Creative Problem Solving Skills (And How To Improve Yours)
I think we’re all familiar with that feeling of needing to solve a problem, trying way too hard, getting frustrated, and then throwing our hands up in defeat. For example, when my editor assigned me this topic, the structure and concept of the piece weren’t instantly clear to me. I had to problem-solve to figure out how to even begin. But problem-solving isn’t quite so linear. It’s not just a matter of brute force. You can’t just muscle your way through. This is where creative problem solving comes in.
Creative problem solving is about using what we know about how the brain works to come up with outside-the-box solutions to creative problems. Sure, we can do things the same way we’ve always done them. Or we can try creative problem solving, which means we spend time ideating (a.k.a. brainstorming), collaborating, ruminating, and refining to land on better and more novel solutions than we could have if we tried to force or rush a solution.
Table of Contents
1. ideating/brainstorming, 2. collaboration, an example of creative problem solving, bottom line, more about creative problem solving, stages of creative problem solving.
There’s no right or wrong way to try creative problem solving, but there are some stages that can help you integrate it into your creative process. Here are the 4 stages of creative problem solving
If we’re using creative problem solving, we’re not just going with the first idea that pops into our heads. Brainstorming is crucial to come up with more novel solutions.
One of the most important things to keep in mind during brainstorming is that this is not the time to evaluate or judge ideas. The goal of ideating is to come up with as many ideas as possible.
There’s an improvisation rule called “Yes, And” or the rule of agreement that can help you get the most out of your brainstorming sessions.  The idea is simple. If you’re brainstorming in a group and someone tells you an idea, you need to go along with that idea. That’s the “Yes” part of “Yes, And.” Then, you can take it a step further by trying to add to that person’s idea.
Let’s say you and your team are trying to figure out how to rebrand your shoe company. Your colleague says you could use a mascot. If you’re using improv’s “Yes, And” rule, you might agree and say that the mascot could be a shoe or a sock or a lonely sock looking for a shoe.
During the ideation stage, no one should be worried about which ideas are good and which are bad. Everyone is trying to come up with as many ideas as possible, and everyone should be trying to make the most of everyone else’s ideas.
“Yes, And” can also work if you’re creative problem solving alone. Instead of discarding ideas, you should be saying yes to your ideas, writing them all down, and trying to make all of them as workable as possible. But before you get too far in your creative process, it’s important to run your ideas by someone else.
I know sometimes you don’t want to share your ideas with other people. Maybe you’re self-conscious or you just don’t think that your idea is ready for prime time. However, it’s important to step out of your comfort zone and let other people join your creative process if you want to reach the best possible creative solution.
When we’re working in a team, it’s important to not judge each other’s ideas until we’re safely in the final stage of the creative problem-solving process. That means no critiques, no evaluations, and no snarky comments. Not yet, at least.
The reason to hold off on evaluating ideas at this stage is that some people tend to shut down if their ideas are judged too early. There’s a concept called creative suppression that occurs when people stop a creative pursuit temporarily due to feeling judged, shamed, or embarrassed.  Even worse, creative mortification is when judgment, shame, or embarrassment makes you quit your creative pursuit altogether.
When you’re collaborating with others while creative problem solving, you don’t want to shut anyone down. The more people who are actively engaged in the creative process the better.
In improv, there’s something called “group mind.” The basic idea is that a group can come up with a better solution than any single individual. It makes sense since each person in the group enters the creative process with their own strengths, knowledge, background, experience, and ideas. That means that when the group is working harmoniously, the best contributions of each individual will be reflected in the team’s solution, making that solution far better than what any individual could have come up on their own.
So, find someone you trust and lay the ground rules for your collaboration. Tell each other that you won’t be judging each other’s work just yet to bring out the best and make it as creative and effective as possible.
It can seem counterintuitive to pause during the creative process. But to tap into the creative unconscious parts of your brain, you need to stop forcing it and let your mind wander.
The part of your brain that you’re using to understand this article right now is not necessarily the part that’s going to come up with the most novel solution to your problem. To start using your creative unconscious brain , you need to take a break.
Have you ever had that experience of struggling with a problem and then effortlessly figuring it out while you were showering or walking the dog? That’s your unconscious brain doing the heavy lifting.
This part of the brain can’t be forced into creative problem solving, so stop consciously obsessing about your problem for a while. Take a walk. Go for a drive. Let your mind wander. Dream. This gives your unconscious mind a chance to sort information and come up with some truly novel solutions.
The bonus to letting your unconscious take over is that it’s effortless. Conscious thought requires you to burn lots of energy, while unconscious doesn’t. So, stop trying so hard and let ideas come to you.
At some point, you’re going to have to start evaluating, eliminating, and refining your ideas to get to the best solution. But if you’ve brainstormed, collaborated, and ruminated enough, you should have plenty of material to work with.
I think it’s helpful to walk through an example of creative problem-solving in action. Let’s go back to the example of me writing this article.
First, I was presented with the problem, so I started brainstorming and “Yes, And”-ing myself. I thought about everything I already know about creative problem solving and did some preliminary research, but I still didn’t have a structure or theme to tie my ideas together.
Once the problem was marinating in my mind, I started talking to people. I talked to an old friend about my initial ideas about the article, but I still didn’t have any words on the page just yet.
Then, one morning, the article seemed to come fully formed while I was showering. I could see which examples would work best and how to structure the article. So, I sat down to write and refine the ideas. During the refining stage, I swung back to the collaboration stage when my editor further refined and improved my ideas.
It’s important to remember that these four stages of creative problem solving aren’t linear. They’re circular. After I refine an idea, I can go back to brainstorming, collaborating, and pausing as needed to develop and improve that idea.
Creative problem solving is, first and foremost, creative. You have to give yourself time and space to be able to reflect and ruminate. It’s also important to collaborate as necessary to improve your ideas with the help of other people.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that you can’t force creative problem-solving. Forcing it only leads to frustration and failure, so give yourself some time and a team you trust to come up with the best possible solution to your problem.
- Creative Problem Solving: Create Meaning from Contradictory Ideas
- 30 Tips to Rejuvenate Your Creativity
- 6 Effective Ways To Train Your Creative Mind
- How to Be Creative When You’ve Hit a Creative Block
Featured photo credit: Per Lööv via unsplash.com
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Search this blog, problem solving skills.
1. Analytical Thinking - Analytical thinking is a problem-solving approach that involves breaking down complex problems into smaller parts in order to understand each component in detail and identify the underlying cause of the issue. It involves a logical and systematic approach to problem-solving, with the goal of finding the most effective solution. Analytical thinking involves breaking down complex problems into smaller parts and analyzing each component in order to understand its relationship to the larger issue. It requires asking questions, gathering data, and making observations in order to systematically evaluate a problem and its potential solutions.
2. Decision-Making - Decision-making is the process of making choices from among multiple options by weighing the costs, benefits, and risks associated with each option. It is a cognitive process of selecting the best possible solution or course of action from among multiple alternatives. Decision-making is important in both personal and professional settings, and can have long-term consequences and implications.
3. Creative Problem Solving - Creative problem solving is a process of identifying issues, generating ideas and solutions, and implementing those solutions in order to solve a problem. It involves the use of imagination and critical thinking to approach challenges in a new and innovative way. It involves the ability to think outside the box and come up with creative solutions that can address complex issues.
4. Research Skills - Being able to locate, evaluate and synthesize data from a variety of sources.
5. Communication - Being able to express ideas clearly and effectively.
6. Critical Thinking - Being able to evaluate information objectively and make decisions based on the evidence.
7. Planning and Organizing - Being able to plan, organize and manage resources to achieve a desired outcome.
8. Persistence - Patience: Being able to work through a problem and keep going despite challenges and setbacks.
9. Flexibility - Adaptability: The ability to adjust and respond to changing situations.
10. Stress Management - 1. Deep breathing exercises: Deep breathing exercises are a great way to relax and reduce stress levels. They can help you focus and clear your mind, allowing you to better focus on problem-solving. 2. Meditation: Meditation helps to calm the mind and body, allowing you to approach problem-solving with a clear head. 3. Visualization: Visualizing success can help create a positive mindset and motivate you to take action and find a solution. 4. Time management: Time management can help reduce stress by ensuring that you have enough time to focus on problem-solving without feeling overwhelmed. 5. Positive self-talk: Positive self-talk can help you stay focused and motivated to find a solution. It can also help you stay calm and manage stress levels. 6. Exercise: Exercise releases endorphins, which can help reduce stress and anxiety levels. It can also help to clear your mind and give you the energy to tackle a problem.
11. Delegation - Delegation skills are the ability to assign tasks and responsibilities to other members of a team, while managing the workload and ensuring that tasks are completed in a timely and effective manner. These skills include the ability to identify tasks that can be delegated, provide clear instructions and expectations, and provide support and feedback throughout the duration of the task. Delegation skills are important for any leader who wants to maximize the productivity and efficiency of their team.
12. Negotiation - Negotiation skills are the ability to effectively communicate and bargain with others in order to come to an agreement or reach a desired outcome. Negotiation skills involve the ability to analyse the other person's needs and interests, to develop strategies, to effectively present your position, to listen effectively, to problem solve and to come to a mutually beneficial agreement. Negotiation skills are important in many aspects of life, such as in business and in personal relationships.
13. Collaboration - Collaboration skills are the ability to work effectively with others in order to achieve a common goal. They involve communication, problem solving, interpersonal, and organizational skills that help teams work together efficiently. Examples of collaboration skills include the ability to listen actively, work together to brainstorm ideas, and be open to others’ opinions.
14. Emotional Intelligence - Emotional intelligence skills are the ability to recognize, understand and manage emotions in ourselves and in others. This includes self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills. These skills are essential for successful communication, relationships, and leadership.
15. Conflict Resolution - Conflict resolution skills are the abilities and strategies needed to successfully manage and resolve disagreements in the workplace, in relationships, and in other areas of life. They include communication skills, problem-solving skills, and the ability to empathize with others. These skills can be learned and developed through education, training, and practice.
16. Teamwork - Teamwork skills are the abilities and behaviors that help a person work effectively and cooperatively with others on a team. Examples of teamwork skills include communication, collaboration, adaptability, problem solving, listening, time management, organization, and leadership.
17. Problem Identification - Problem Identification skills are the ability to identify problems, assess the severity and urgency of the problem, and develop solutions. They involve analyzing a situation to understand what is causing the problem, gathering information from different sources, looking for underlying problems, and identifying potential solutions. They also include the ability to work through a process of elimination to determine the root cause of a problem. Problem identification skills are essential in any problem-solving process, as they are the first step in finding a solution.
18. Time Management - Time management skills are the ability to use one 's time effectively or efficiently . This includes the ability to plan , prioritize , and organize tasks , set goals , and manage time in a productive way . These skills are important to be successful in both professional and personal settings .
19. Researching Solutions - Researching solutions skills involve the ability to identify, access, and analyze data and information to generate new ideas and develop practical solutions to problems. This involves researching existing solutions, understanding customer needs, and thinking critically to create innovative solutions that effectively meet the customer’s needs. Researching solutions skills also involve the ability to conduct research through various methods such as interviews, surveys, and literature reviews. Additionally, these skills involve the ability to effectively communicate and present research findings, as well as the ability to collaborate with others to develop successful solutions.
20. Adaptability - Adaptability skills are the abilities to quickly learn and apply new concepts, ideas, knowledge, technology, and processes. They involve being able to change one's thinking and behavior in response to new situations, to accept new challenges, and to work with different people in different environments. Adaptability skills also involve being open to feedback and criticism, being able to think on one's feet, and being able to problem-solve in the face of adversity.
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Creative Thinking: Innovative Solutions to Complex Challenges
All Start Dates
8:30 AM – 4:30 PM ET
2 consecutive days
April 25, 2023
11:00 AM – 2:30 PM ET
4 consecutive Mondays
July 30, 2023
11:00 AM – 2:30 PM EST
4 consecutive Tuesdays
October 2, 2023
Learn how to grow a culture of creativity to innovate competitive solutions.
Overview: creative thinking skills course.
The tech breakthrough that makes smartphones irrelevant, a new viral ad campaign, your company’s next big revenue generator—ideas like these could be sitting in your brain; all you need are the creative thinking skills and strategies to pull them out.
This interactive program focuses explicitly on the creative thinking skills you need to solve complex problems and design innovative solutions. Learn how to transform your thinking from the standard “why can’t we” to the powerful “how might we”. Crack the code on how to consistently leverage your team’s creative potential in order to drive innovation within your organization. Explore how to build a climate for innovation, remove barriers to creativity, cultivate courage, and create more agile, proactive, and inspired teams.
You will leave this program with new ideas about how to think more productively and how to introduce creative thinking skills into your organization. You can apply key takeaways immediately to implement a new leadership vision, inspire renewed enthusiasm, and enjoy the skills and tools to tackle challenges and seize opportunities.
Innovation experts Anne Manning and Susan Robertson bring to this highly-interactive and powerful program their decades of experience promoting corporate innovation, teaching the art of creative problem solving, and applying the principles of brain science to solve complex challenges.
Who Should Take Creative Thinking Skills Training?
This program is ideal for leaders with at least 3 years of management experience. It is designed for leaders who want to develop new strategies, frameworks, and tools for creative problem solving. Whether you are a team lead, project manager, sales director, or executive, you’ll learn powerful tools to lead your team and your organization to create innovative solutions to complex challenges.
All participants will earn a Certificate of Participation from the Harvard Division of Continuing Education.
Benefits of Creative Thinking Skills Training
The goal of this creative thinking program is to help you develop the strategic concepts and tactical skills to lead creative problem solving for your team and your organization. You will learn to:
- Retrain your brain to avoid negative cognitive biases and long-held beliefs and myths that sabotage creative problem solving and innovation
- Become a more nimble, proactive, and inspired thinker and leader
- Create the type of organizational culture that supports collaboration and nurtures rather than kills ideas
- Gain a practical toolkit for solving the “unsolvable” by incorporating creative thinking into day-to-day processes
- Understand cognitive preferences (yours and others’) to adapt the creative thinking process and drive your team’s success
- Develop techniques that promote effective brainstorming and enable you to reframe problems in a way that inspires innovative solutions
The curriculum in this highly interactive program utilizes research-based methodologies and techniques to build creative thinking skills and stimulate creative problem solving.
Through intensive group discussions and small-group exercises, you will focus on topics such as:
- The Creative Problem Solving process: a researched, learnable, repeatable process for uncovering new and useful ideas. This process includes a “how to” on clarifying, ideating, developing, and implementing new solutions to intractable problems
- The cognitive preferences that drive how we approach problems, and how to leverage those cognitive preferences for individual and team success
- How to develop—and implement— a methodology that overcomes barriers to innovative thinking and fosters the generation of new ideas, strategies, and techniques
- The role of language, including asking the right questions, in reframing problems, challenging assumptions, and driving successful creative problem solving
- Fostering a culture that values, nurtures, and rewards creative solutions
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Week 1 • Introduction to Divergent and Convergent Thinking
Week 2 • Creative Problem Solving Processes
Week 3 • Problem Clarification
Week 4 • Ideation
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The Most Valuable Work-related Skills Employers Want To See on Your Resume This Year
- 1 Problem-solving
- 2 Leadership
- 3 Communication
- 5 Adaptability and Flexibility
- 6 Initiative
- 7 Critical Thinking
- 8 Time Management
- 9 Creativity
- 10 Conclusion
The job market is constantly changing and evolving. Every year, employers prioritize new skills and characteristics that they want to see in their applicants. With that comes the struggle to always be up to date on what employers are looking for in workforce talent. If you want to stand out from other applicants, you must be aware of what the most sought-after work-related skills are each year. Once you have identified the most sought-after skills, you can update your resume to better highlight your accomplishments. By the end of this post, you’ll be equipped with all the knowledge you need to strengthen your resume and impress employers.
Being able to identify a problem and develop an appropriate solution is a highly valuable skill for employers. Problem-solving involves utilizing analytical and creative approaches to recognize and analyze issues, brainstorm potential solutions, and assess the best outcomes. To keep up to date on this skill, consider the times you displayed this attribute and write them down. Get logic puzzles for adults and actively look at the world around you so you can see how you assess and remediate issues. Examples of problem-solving skills can include troubleshooting software issues, resolving customer complaints, or finding ways to streamline processes. Problem-solving can save the employer time and money while also reducing any associated stress incurred by the issue.
Demonstrating strong leadership qualities can demonstrate your potential value to an employer. Leadership involves managing people, tasks, or projects to achieve a goal. It can involve motivating others to reach collective objectives, setting expectations for performance, delegating tasks, providing guidance and support when needed, and fostering team camaraderie. Employers value leadership because it helps create positive workplace morale and encourages collaboration that can increase workplace productivity.
Having the ability to listen attentively while expressing ideas is an essential attribute that employers look for in candidates. Communication involves conveying messages verbally through spoken communication and non-verbally through body language or written communication like emails or reports. Being able to effectively listen to others helps to resolve conflicts. Good communication on a team can create positive relationships, which leads to increased efficiency within the workplace.
Working collaboratively with others will be beneficial if you want to stand out amongst other job applicants. Teamwork involves coming together with a group of people with diverse backgrounds and viewpoints for a common purpose to reach an objective or goal more quickly. Examples of teamwork can include actively participating in group discussions, taking turns leading activities, and accepting accountability for outcomes, both good and bad. Employers prefer candidates who are comfortable working as part of a team because it shows the ability to work with others.
Adaptability and Flexibility
In today’s ever-changing business environment, these two attributes are essential skills employers look for when filling positions. Adaptability encompasses being open to new ideas, while foresight involves anticipating future needs or objectives of the company. Flexibility incorporates being willing to adjust plans as needed based on certain variables, such as unexpected changes in personnel or new industry regulations. Having a track record of adapting quickly and flexibly demonstrates an ability to think on one’s feet while staying within budget constraints and meeting tight deadlines.
Being able to take initiative means evaluating situations quickly and acting accordingly rather than passively waiting for instructions from management or colleagues. Taking initiative involves taking responsibility for tasks that need completing without being asked and proactively finding solutions. Examples of taking initiative include entrepreneurial skills such as working independently on projects, thinking beyond just completing assigned tasks, and identifying areas that need improvement without being prompted by supervisors.
This skill refers to being able to think clearly when presented with complex information and weighing all possibilities before making decisions. Employers seek out candidates who possess this skill since it leads to better problem diagnosis and greater strategic planning.
An important aspect of getting things done efficiently is managing time effectively. This skill involves scheduling tasks according to priority level and monitoring progress throughout completion.
Having a creative aptitude is an attractive quality. It often leads to innovative approaches toward product development and marketing strategies. Examples of creative skills might include developing new product or service ideas, inventing original advertising campaigns, and creating customer loyalty retention programs. Companies today are always looking at ways they can stand out amongst competitors, so having creative abilities can set you apart from other applicants.
Being aware of the most sought-after skills that employers are looking for this year and making sure those skills are included on your resume will give you a leg up on the competition. Use this post as a guide to equip yourself with the knowledge of the most valuable work-related skills employers want to see on your resume this year. With this information, you’ll have the power to make sure your resume is up-to-date with the latest skills.
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What is creative thinking and why does it matter?
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What is creative thinking?
Types of creative thinking, why is creative thinking important, how creative thinking works, what are some examples of creative thinking, the benefits of creative thinking, how to make your thinking process more creative, start fostering your creative thinking skills.
Few things feel better than a stroke of creative genius. A new creative idea can make you feel brilliant and unstoppable.
But, when the great ideas stop flowing, it’s easy to get discouraged and declare that you’re just not a creative thinker.
Many people believe that creative thinking is something that strikes at random. In reality, there are many ways to use creative problem-solving every day, even if you don’t think you have innate creativity. While thinking creatively isn’t difficult, it does take practice.
Building your creative skills is the key to innovation. But where do you start?
In this article, we’ll cover what creative thinking is, how it works, and how to strengthen your creative skill.
Creative thinking may feel like a superpower reserved only for a “creative person.” Thankfully, creative geniuses aren’t the only ones who can have innovative ideas.
At its core, creative thinking is intentionally gaining new insights and different ideas through existing information.
Often, creative thought involves tapping into different styles of thinking and examining information from different viewpoints to see new patterns. Anyone can foster a creative mind with some practice!
Using a wide variety of brainstorming strategies can help you discover new solutions for issues in every area of your life, including at work.
In fact, 61% of employees say they’re expected to come up with creative ideas or new ways to do things at work. But, with only 30% of employees saying they’re given time to think or discuss new ideas daily, it’s becoming increasingly important to develop our creative thinking muscles.
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Fostering creative thinking starts with changing your perspective. Learning new and different styles of thinking can help give birth to powerful idea generation.
Aesthetic thinking, divergent thinking, lateral thinking, convergent thinking, and inspirational thinking are five types of innovative thinking to get the ball rolling.
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Divergent and convergent thinking are the most common ways to foster more creative thought.
Divergent thinking is like a traditional brainstorming session, where you come up with as many possible solutions as your imagination will allow.
Meanwhile, convergent thinking takes a more logical approach, encouraging you to gather facts and discover the most common solution to a problem. These strategies are frequently used together to conjure new creative solutions.
Inspirational thinking focuses on imagining the best-case scenarios to find a new way to solve a problem, while lateral thinking involves letting ideas flow in a step-by-step format.
Aesthetic thinking focuses on reframing the problem to see its inherent beauty and value, like looking at a painting.
It’s easy to get stuck in the same thought patterns, especially at work. However, those thought patterns may be hampering your innovation and keeping you stuck in routines that don’t serve you.
Creative thinking shows us that there are many solutions to any problem, and developing your creative thinking skills helps you recognize innovative solutions more quickly.
Plus, creativity was the most sought-after soft skill in 2020, so strengthening your creativity skills can set you apart at work, too.
Alongside critical thinking and focus , creative thinking is crucial to help recognize patterns that may not be obvious at first glance. Thinking creatively makes you a better problem-solver, which has far-reaching benefits in both your work and personal life.
Expressive, creative thinking helps us challenge our own assumptions, discover new things about ourselves and our perspective, stay mentally sharp, and even be more optimistic .
Many business leaders see creativity and innovation as something unpredictable, with 53% of businesses reporting that innovation occurs by chance. However, with the right tools, you can tap into creative thinking whenever you want.
There are many ways to get your creative juices flowing, and practicing creative thinking strategies can help you think outside the box more readily and more often.
Creative thinking works by igniting our curiosity. Getting curious about a problem looks different for various industries.
A go-to example for creative thinking may be the advertising executive coming up with creative campaigns by brainstorming with divergent thinking. However, that’s far from the only way to use creative thinking.
In STEM industries like biomedicine, stimulating creativity by asking open-ended questions and creating fictional scenarios helps professionals find innovative solutions to health problems.
These questions encourage medical professionals to experiment and discover new ways of solving a persistent problem.
Through creative thinking, professionals in any field can discover unique answers to pressing problems.
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Creative thinking is valuable in many situations, not just traditionally creative industries. Whether you’re solving a problem, organizing your calendar, or at an impasse with your team, creative thinking can come in handy.
One way creative thinking is valuable is for identifying the right problem .
Using divergent thinking strategies can help you examine a problem from every angle and identify the true root of the issue.
Once you’ve found the root problem, you can use lateral thinking or convergent thinking to discover new solutions that may not have been available to you before.
Adding constraints , like a timeline or budget for your project, can also help you guide a creative thinking session.
For example, you could brainstorm how you'd handle a particular problem if your existing budget was cut in half. Constraints can help spur unique ideas you may have missed.
Creative thinking doesn’t just make you a better employee; it also makes you a better parent, student, and leader, too. By developing your creative thinking skills, the benefits of thinking creatively can show up throughout your daily life.
Here are a few major benefits of creative thinking.
Improved problem-solving capabilities
We don’t just solve problems at work, and we shouldn’t only use our creative thinking skills at work, either! Developing your creative thinking abilities can help you solve a wide variety of problems faster.
As your mind becomes more accustomed to using different thought techniques, you’ll quickly recognize patterns that you might not have before.
Stronger interpersonal connections
Creative thinking can help you communicate your ideas more clearly, which leads to better conversations and relationships with your friends, family, and coworkers.
Plus, many creative thinking methods work best when they’re done in a group. Developing new ideas together can strengthen bonds and help you combine ideas to create something truly innovative.
It may seem like creative thinking is a time-consuming distraction from your work, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
When we get stuck in thought patterns, it’s easy to get frustrated when something isn’t working correctly. That frustration can cause our productivity to plummet.
Taking a moment and engaging in a creative thinking strategy can renew your motivation, reinvigorate your passion, and help you find new solutions when you’re stuck.
Creative thinking allows you to try on perspectives that you may not have considered before.
As you’re exploring new perspectives, you may discover something about your own assumptions, viewpoints, or biases that you never noticed.
Challenging your traditional way of thinking can offer higher self-awareness and build your emotional intelligence. With creative thinking, you strengthen your ability to reframe your perspective and harness a growth mindset.
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Now that we see how important creative thinking skills are, building our creative capabilities is the next step to reap the benefits.
There are many ways to encourage more creative thinking in your daily life. While practicing different thinking strategies and brainstorming with your team at work help to develop these skills, they’re far from the only way to foster a more creative thought process.
One powerful way to get your creativity flowing is to meet new people, especially if they’re in the arts or in a different industry from you. Sharing your interests and listening to others can inspire you to view the world differently.
Practicing boredom can help you develop your creativity, too. Allowing yourself to become bored and seeing what pulls your interest can help you practice letting your curiosity lead the way.
Another tactic is to ask questions about everything that piques your interest, and come up with possible answers before you look up the actual answer.
Coaching can also help you hone your creative thinking.
In fact, 71% of employers see managerial coaching as helpful for creative development. When you’re feeling distracted or uninspired, coaching can refocus your attention and help you get curious about your experience.
Breaking away from your normal routine and trying something new is the key to fostering creative thinking in your daily life.
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Thinking more creatively can take effort, but a little practice can offer a ton of benefits. Honing your skills to recognize patterns and find solutions shifts your perspective and offers a new vantage point for you to explore.
Not only can creative thinking improve your performance at work, but it can also improve every other area of your life too.
Coaching is a powerful tool to help foster your creativity skills. Are you ready to become more innovative?
Start working with a dedicated coach today to develop your own creative thinking skills.
8 creative solutions to your most challenging problems
Why creativity isn't just for creatives and how to find it anywhere, uncover the best talent with these 10 creative interview questions, thinking outside the box: 8 ways to become a creative problem solver, entrepreneurial mindset: what is it & how to think like an entrepreneur, 37 innovation and creativity appraisal comments, learn how to be your own best ally for reaching your goals, how hr can support effective manager coaching, has social conditioning been holding women back from leadership roles, stay connected with betterup, get our newsletter, event invites, plus product insights and research..
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Creative Problem Solving Examples | 8 Best Interview Questions & Answers You Need
Jane Ng • 06 Mar 2023 • 7 min read
To get a deeper understanding of this skill and prepare for related interview questions, let’s dive into creative problem solving examples in today’s post.
During unexpected crises or challenging circumstances, individuals demonstrate their strong qualities, including problem-solving abilities. As a result, employers highly value candidates who possess a creative approach to problem solving.
What Is Creative Problem Solving?
Benefits of having creative problem solving skills, 8 creative problem solving examples – interview questions and answers, tips to improve your creative problem solving skills.
- Final Thoughts on Creative Problem Solving Examples
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As the name implies, Creative Problem Solving is a process of creating unique and innovative solutions to problems or challenges. It requires coming up with out-of-the-box ideas instead of the traditional way of doing things. It involves a combination of thinking differently, figuring out what’s best, seeing things from different angles, and seizing new opportunities or generating ideas.
And remember, the goal of creative problem solving is to find practical, effective, and unique solutions that go beyond conventional (and sometimes risky, of course).
Need more creative problem solving examples? Let’s read more!
As a candidate, having creative problem solving skills can bring several benefits, including:
- Increase employability: Employers are looking for individuals who aren’t stuck in a rut but can think critically, solve problems, and come up with creative solutions—things that work more efficiently, and save more time and effort. Showing off your skills can make you a more attractive candidate and increase your chances of getting hired.
- Improve decision-making: They help you to approach problems from different angles and make better decisions.
- Increase adaptability : The ability to find creative solutions can help you adapt to change and tackle new challenges effectively.
- Improve performance: Solving problems in innovative ways can lead to increased productivity, performance, and efficiency.
Here are some creative problem solving examples of interview questions, along with sample answers:
1/ How do you approach a new problem or challenge?
This is the time when you should show the interviewer your way of doing, your way of thinking.
Example answer: “I start by gathering information and understanding the problem thoroughly. I then brainstorm potential solutions and consider which ones have the most potential. I also think about the potential risks and benefits of each solution. From there, I select the best solution and create a plan of action to implement it. I continuously evaluate the situation and make adjustments as needed until the problem is solved.”
2/ What radical new or different ways to approach a challenge?
This question is a harder version of the previous one. It requires innovative and unique solutions to a challenge. The interviewer wants to see if you can have different approaches to problem-solving. It’s important to remember that not necessarily giving the best answer but showing your ability to think creatively and generate new ideas.
Example answer: “A completely different way to approach this challenge could be to collaborate with a company or organization outside of our industry. This could provide a fresh perspective and ideas. Another approach might be to involve employees from different departments in the problem-solving process, which can lead to cross-functional solutions and bring in a wide range of ideas and perspectives and more diverse points.”
3/ Can you give an example of a time when you came up with a creative solution to a problem?
The interviewer needs more concrete proof or examples of your creative problem-solving skills. So answer the question as specifically as possible, and show them specific metrics if available.
Sample answer: “I’m running a marketing campaign, and we’re having a hard time engaging with a certain target audience. I was thinking about this from a different perspective and came up with an idea. The idea was to create a series of interactive events so that the customers could experience our products uniquely and in a fun way. The campaign was a huge success and exceeded its goals in terms of engagement and sales.”
4/ Can you recall a time you successfully managed a crisis?
Interviewers want to see how you handle high-pressure situations and solve problems effectively.
Example answer: “When I was working on a project, and one of the key members of the team was suddenly unavailable because of an emergency. This put the project at risk of being delayed. I quickly assessed the situation and made a plan to reassign tasks to other team members. I also communicated effectively with the client to ensure they were aware of the situation and that we were still on track to meet our deadline. Through effective crisis management, we were able to complete the project tasks on time and without any major hitches.”
5/ Can you name three common barriers to creativity and how you overcome each of them?
This is how the interviewer gauges your perspective and sets you apart from other candidates.
Example answer: “Yes, I can identify three common barriers to creativity in problem solving. First, the fear of failure can prevent individuals from taking risks and trying new ideas. I overcome this by accepting failure as a learning opportunity and encouraging myself to experiment with new ideas Second, limited resources such as time and finances can reduce creativity. I overcome this by prioritizing problem-solving in my schedule and finding the best cost-effective tools and methods. Lastly, a lack of inspiration can hinder creativity. To overcome this, I expose myself to new experiences and environments, try new hobbies, travel, and surround myself with people with different perspectives. I also read about new ideas and tools, and keep a journal to record my thoughts and ideas.”
6/ Have you ever had to solve a problem but didn’t have all the necessary information about it before? And what have you done?
Having to deal with a “sudden” problem is a common situation you will encounter in any work environment. Employers want to know how you deal with this inconvenience reasonably and effectively.
Example answer: “ In such cases, I proactively reach out and gather information from different sources to better understand the situation. I talk to stakeholders, research online, and use my experience and knowledge to fill in any gaps. I also asked clarifying questions about the problem and what information was missing. This allows me to form a holistic view of the problem and work towards finding a solution, even when complete information is not available.”
7/ What do you do when it seems impossible to find the right solution to a problem?
Employers are looking for candidates problem solving, creativity, and critical thinking skills. The candidate’s answers can also reveal their problem-solving strategies, thinking ability, and resilience in the face of challenges.
Example answer: “When I have to face a problem that I can’t seem to solve, I take a multi-step approach to overcome this challenge. Firstly, I try to reframe the problem by looking at it from a different angle, which can often lead to new ideas and insights. Secondly, I reach out to my colleagues, mentors, or experts in the field for their perspectives and advice. Collaborating and brainstorming with others can result in new solutions. Thirdly, I take a break, by stepping away from it and doing something completely different to clear my mind and gain a new perspective. Fourthly, I revisit the problem with a fresh mind and renewed focus. Fifthly, I consider alternative solutions or approaches, trying to keep an open mind and explore unconventional options. Finally, I refine the solution and test it to guarantee it meets the requirements and effectively solves the problem. This process allows me to find creative and innovative solutions, even when the problem seems difficult to solve.”
8/ How do you know when to deal with the problem yourself or ask for help?
In this question, the interviewer wants to get a clearer picture of your ability to assess situations, be flexible when solving problems, and make sure you can work independently as well as in a team.
Example answer: “I would assess the situation and determine if I have the skills, knowledge, and resources needed to solve the problem effectively. If the problem is complex and beyond my ability, I will seek help from a colleague or supervisor. However, if I can afford it and deal with the problem effectively, I’ll take it on and handle it myself. However, my ultimate goal is still to find the best solution to the problem on time. “
Here are some tips to help your creative problem-solving skills:
- Practice active listening and observation: Pay attention to the details around you and actively listen to what others are saying.
- Broaden your perspective: Seek out new experiences and information that can expand your thinking and help you approach problems from new angles.
- Teamwork: Working with others can lead to diverse perspectives and help you generate more creative solutions.
- Stay curious: Keep asking questions to maintain a curious and open-minded attitude.
- Use visualization and mind mapping: These tools can help you see problems in a new light and think about potential solutions in a more organized manner.
- Take care of mental health: Taking breaks and engaging in relaxing activities can help you stay refreshed and avoid burnout.
- Embrace failure: Don’t be afraid to try new ways and experiment with different solutions, even if they don’t work out.
Hopefully, this article has provided helpful creative problem solving examples and prepared you well to score points with the recruiters. If you want to improve your’s creative problem-solving skills, it’s important to embrace a growth mindset, accept failure, think creatively, and collaborate with others.
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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.
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The Creativity Dice #creativity #problem solving #thiagi #issue analysis . Too much linear thinking is hazardous to creative problem solving. To be creative, you should approach the problem (or the opportunity) from different points of view. You should leave a thought hanging in mid-air and move to another.
This module will help you to develop skills and behaviors required to solve problems and implement solutions more efficiently in an agile manner by using a systematic five-step process that involves both creative and critical thinking. 31 videos (Total 30 min), 11 readings, 12 quizzes. 31 videos.
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