Creative Problem Solving

This is an overview of Creative Problem Solving, the creative process I teach and facilitate. To learn more, visit my full CPS site, creativeproblemsolving.com.


 

WHAT IS CREATIVE PROBLEM SOLVING?

Creative Problem Solving (CPS) is a structured process for solving problems or finding opportunities, used when you want to go beyond conventional thinking and arrive at creative (novel and useful) solutions.

You can, of course, choose to solve problems in conventional ways. Indeed, most problems are solved using known solutions. Creativity is solving problems in new and better ways. Creativity is how your organization becomes truly innovative, and how it and uncovers new, different, and market-making opportunities.

WHAT DOES THE CPS MODEL LOOK LIKE?

CPS (OmniSkills Model)We illustrate the CPS model using hexagons, where each hex is one process stage. Because the process is organic – how it is used depends on the situation at hand, this illustration should be understood as a model–that is, as a typical use of CPS–but not as a full-time reality.

Here’s a quick description of the process, as illustrated. Someone will facilitate the process, making process-related decisions, an oversight function that is used throughout the process. The first stage is to imagine the future state that is wanted, in statements that begin with “I wish…,” “I want…,” “I will…,” or “It would be great if….” Once a vision is decided upon, we find the questions that must be answered (or, problems that need to be solved) in order for the imagined future to come true. These questions will begin with “How to…,” “How might…,” “In what ways might…,” and “What might be all the….” Once we select a question we will work on, we generate ideas that will answer the question. Ideas tend to be rough notions – that is, not implementable solutions – so we select the best ideas and use them to craft solutions. We explore acceptance for our solutions, so that we will know who will assist and who will resist, and what to do about it. Finally, we plan for action,which takes us to the doorway of implementation: creating the future we imagined at the beginning of the process.

IS CPS A CREATIVE WAY TO SOLVE PROBLEMS?

The word “creative” in the title refers to the results you seek: novel and useful solutions,
not just tried and true and traditional ones. But is CPS itself creative? Well, while it is no longer novel per se – it has been is use since the 1950s – it is novel when compared to other problem-solving models. On the surface, CPS looks similar, but what is novel about CPS is this: CPS uses both divergentand convergentthinking at every stage of the process. Most other processes reserve the divergent thinking for the generating ideas stage, but use it nowhere else. CPS multiplies the power of divergent thinking by making it part of the entire process.

Thus, we have to confess that using CPS has an interesting side effect: it makes you re-think the way you thiink, and not just when you are solving problems.

IS CPS RIGHT FOR YOU?

First, let’s consider problems and opportunities. CPS is a great choice if you want new thinking, new ideas, new solutions. It’s a great choice if you find you are stuck, if you can’t solve a certain problem (or problems), even if – especially if – you’re not sure what the problem is. CPS is a great choice if you are missing opportunities, or if you want to take advantage of the opportunities before you.

Second, let’s consider leadership. Creative thinking and innovative vision are core leadership competencies. CPS provides a structured way for leaders to harness creative thinking, to lead the way to breakthrough innovations, to envision desired future states, and to determine how to get there.

NOW WHAT?

Discover it. At the companion site, creativeproblemsolving.com, you can uncover the basics of Creative Problem Solving and CPS facilitation.

Experience it. Paul Reali can facilitate the CPS process in your organization. Have a problem, situation, issue, or opportunity that’s ready for new thinking? Let us show you how the process can work for you. Learn about facilitation of CPS here.

Learn it. There are many places to learn how to use and how to facilitate CPS, including: OmniSkills, Paul’s company; the Creative Problem Solving Institute; the International Center for Studies in Creativity; and others.

Download it. Creativeproblemsolving.com offers free quick reference guides and worksheets.

Use it. Try things out, and see how it goes. What’s the worst that could happen?

Talk to me. I’m available to answer your questions and help you in whatever way you need. Email me here.