Creativity and the Four Mantras of Problem Solving

Creativity and the Four Mantras of Problem Solving

“Creativity and problem solving are just two sides of the same coin” (Prof. Dr. Kirton). We all want to be creative and also want our teams to be creative. Overlooking or not taking serious the following “four mantras” makes us less effective in our problem solving capabilities.

1) Recognize problems as such.
Some companies pride themselves in saying: “we do not have problems, just a couple of challenges”. Thinking this way makes us blind for problems. The most creative people see problems where the rest of us are just happy with the status quo. Who had a problem before the wheel was invented? In order to sharpen our view for opportunities and valuable solutions we need to spot problems in the first place. That means we need to call them that way.

2) Treat your brain as a “muscle”.
When you call for an important “creativity”, prepare people as if you wanted to take them for a marathon. Our daily life has our muscles ill-prepared for such efforts. We need a training program. We will also be on special diet (more on that in mantra #3). On the eve of the event we review our strategy. Before start, there is a warm-up. Are you setting up this way your “2015 product roadmap meeting”?

3) Feed your brain with “plenty of dots”.
We all know how important it is to connect seemingly unrelated “dots”. What remains under-appreciated is the obvious precondition: to have plenty of dots to connect! The preparation phase of a creativity session needs to provide them to participants. Well-equipped “war rooms” or “Obeya rooms” are full of them. Creative people feed their brains with them. These dots can’t be just out of our own area. What is your “reading diet”? Mostly emails? That’s just not healthy.

4) Appreciate problem solving diversity.
We all know the “diversity” posters on the wall. When it comes to creativity, gender, age or any of the usual demographics don’t matter as much as our preferred problem solving style. T.A. Edison and N. Tesla were clashing over that. Companies need both their styles – and any blending in between – to be successful. However, companies’ very appreciation of how good people are at solving problems often favors one at the expense of the other style. With sometimes disastrous results.

For any of these four mantras psychology, modern business practice and a range of consultants have brought about sound methods. Which of these you use may not matter as much as addressing all four mantras consistently. – All the best for your problem solving!