Creative Problem Solving

Creative problem-solving is the mental process of searching for an original and previously unknown solution to a problem. To qualify, the solution must be novel and reached independently.[1]

Creative solution types

The process of creative problem-solving usually begins with defining the problem. This may lead to finding a simple non-creative solution, a textbook solution, or discovering prior solutions developed by other individuals. If the discovered solution is sufficient, the process may then be abandoned[2][3].

A creative solution will often have distinct characteristics that include using only existing components, or the problematic factor, as the basis for the solution. However, a change of perspective may in many cases be helpful.[4] A solution may also be considered creative if readily available components can be used to solve the problem within a short time limit[5] (factors typical to the solutions employed by the title character in the television series MacGyver).

If a creative solution has broad application - that is, uses that go beyond the original intent -, it may be referred to as an innovative solution, or an innovation (some innovations may also be considered an invention).

"All innovations [begin] as creative solutions, but not all creative solutions become innovations."[6]

-- Richard Fobes

Techniques and tools

Many techniques and tools employed for creating effective solutions to a problem are described in creativity techniques and problem-solving articles.

Creative problem-solving technique categories

  • Mental state shift and cognitive re-framing: Changing one's focus away from active problem-solving and towards a creative solution set.
  • Multiple idea facilitation: Increasing the quantity of fresh ideas based on the belief that a greater number of ideas will raise the chances that one of these is valuable. This may include randomly selecting an idea (such as choosing a word from a list) and thinking about its similarities to the situation. In turn, this random act may inspire a related idea that would lead to a solution.
  • Inducing a change of perspective: Efficiently entering a fresh perspective may result in a solution that thereby becomes obvious. This is especially useful for solving particularly challenging problems.[6] Many techniques to this end involve identifying independent dimensions that differentiate closely associated concepts.[6] Differentiating concepts helps overcome a tendency to use oversimplified associative thinking, in which two related concepts are so closely associated that their differences are overlooked.[6]

See also

Related articles

Related lists


  1. ^ Michigan State University. "Creative problem solving for teachers". [permanent dead link]
  2. ^ Definition of creative problem solving on Alex Osborn's (inventor of the term and process of brainstorming) Creative Education Foundation website.
  3. ^ Problem definition[permanent dead link] in presentation on creative problem-solving, on the University of Arizona website
  4. ^ Mike Vence about the 9 dots as a corporate promotion of creative thinking at the Walt Disney Company (Creative Thinking Association website)
  5. ^ About creative problem solving in an invitation to a conference by the University of South Alabama
  6. ^ a b c d Fobes, Richard (1993). The Creative Problem Solver's Toolbox: A Complete Course in the Art of Creating Solutions to Problems of Any Kind. ISBN 0-9632221-0-4. 

Further reading

  • Alex Osborn, Applied Imagination: Principles and Procedures of Creative Problem Solving, Creative Education Foundation Press, 1953/2001, ISBN 0-930222-73-3
  • Edward de Bono, Lateral Thinking : Creativity Step by Step, Harper & Row, 1973, trade paperback, 300 pages, ISBN 0-06-090325-2
  • Altshuller, Henry. 1994. The Art of Inventing (And Suddenly the Inventor Appeared). Translated by Lev Shulyak. Worcester, Massachusetts: Technical Innovation Center. ISBN 0-9640740-1-X

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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