8 Ways to Master Creative Problem Solving Techniques
Problem solving is one of the most sought-after skills in the professional world irrespective of your role in the organization. Whether you are an entrepreneur, a part of the top management, a senior manager, a team leader, or an individual contributor, effective problem-solving will go a long way in determining how successful you are in your role.
We are all confronted with problems each day, and the high pressure environment in which most of us work, compel us to find the quickest solution to these problems. However, the quickest solution is often not the most effective one. So, how to find the most effective solution? We’ll see that in a bit. But first we have to find out what the benefits of creative problem solving are.
What are the Benefits of Solving Problems Creatively?
Creative problem solving techniques have far more visible and long-lasting advantages than the usual problem solving methods we would normally go for. The three main vantage points of solving problems creatively are as follows:
- It focuses on the root cause of a problem, hence the solution is permanent
- The solution is analyzed and well thought-out
- It paves way to newer opportunities, learnings, and improved processes
How to Master Creative Problem Solving Skills
Now that you have a clear understanding of why creative problem solving is important, let us now find out how to master this skill. We will see how we can come up with effective solutions for our problems, with some planning, patience, and being open to new ideas.
Creative problem solving is creative because the solution may not be instantly apparent or obvious. Arriving at such a solution demands your time and concentration. Let’s break down the steps to see how problems can be solved creatively.
Clear Definition of Problem
Anything that comes in the way of you and your goal is a problem. A goal could be a task you want to complete, increased performance, getting a promotion, or anything that gives you an objective.
If something is stopping you from reaching that goal, you have a problem. Clearly defining a problem is the first step to finding a creative solution to it.
An effective way of finding what exactly is a problem is to use the Five whys methodology. You keep asking questions till the point you reach the root cause of the problem.
Try to look more than what you see.
Do Some Digging
Once you have defined your problem, spend some time studying it. Learn more about the problem such as its nature; is the problem big, how it will affect us in the long run, can it be ignored?
Some problems can be worth ignoring if the solution won’t really help you. For instance, you are working on a project and you hit a major road block. If the project is in the initial stage, you would be better off if you simply start a new project as compared to investing your time and efforts in fixing the existing problem.
You will get a better understanding of the nature of your problem when you spend some time analyzing it.
Look Around You
Try and think of people who are around you; your colleagues, or people in your industry who have faced similar problems in the past. Find out what their approach was to the problem, how they managed to find their solution and finally, which solution they implemented.
This will widen your perspective and present you with a higher number of possibilities of resolving your own problem.
Design Your Challenges
Following the three steps preceding this one, you will be in a position to recognize the root cause of your problem, the nature of your problem, and know what solutions have been applied previously to solve a similar problem in the past.
Based on the conclusion you draw from these points, set challenges for yourself. You can also call them goals, action points, or objectives. These goals are directly related to your root causes.
We just converted a problem into challenge. We do not have the complete solution yet, but we are certainly half-way through.
Come Up With Solutions
This stage is the actual “creative” part of problem solving. This is where you propose possible solution to eliminate the root causes or achieve the goals you set in the previous step. Come up with as many solutions as possible; there’s no restriction on the number.
You could arrange for a brainstorming session or invite ideas from people through any other medium of communication. One important thing to consider here is to avoid digression and stay focused on the goal, especially during the brainstorming meetings.
Analyze Your Solutions
Now you have quite a few solutions for your problems. Your task here is to evaluate each one on these solutions on their merit. You have to analyze which is the best possible solution in terms of implementation, time required to show results, whether additional resources are needed, whether it guarantees long-term benefits, and so on.
Perform this analysis with utmost care. We do not want a good solution to be rejected at this stage due to sheer negligence.
Select the Best Solution
Based on your analysis, decide the solution which is the best way to solve your problem. Now draft a step-by-step plan to work on this solution. Every point in the plan should be simplified and if required, also accompanied by the corresponding deadline.
Go for it, and Keep Reviewing
When your step-by-step plan is ready, all you have to do is start the implementation. You have done everything you could to find out the best solution to your problem. Start working on it right away, so your problems are resolved in a systematic manner.
Creative problem solving gives you great results; however, it is equally critical to keep a tab on the progress you make. Keep reviewing your progress regularly to check if you are on the right track.
With these 8 ways to creative problem-solving, you are on your to becoming one of the most popular problem-solvers in your organization. Keep winning and keep eliminating those problems from your way.
All the best!