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Creative Problem Solving

Finding innovative solutions to challenges.

By the Mind Tools Content Team

creative problem solving model

Imagine that you're vacuuming your house in a hurry because you've got friends coming over. Frustratingly, you're working hard but you're not getting very far. You kneel down, open up the vacuum cleaner, and pull out the bag. In a cloud of dust, you realize that it's full... again. Coughing, you empty it and wonder why vacuum cleaners with bags still exist!

James Dyson, inventor and founder of Dyson® vacuum cleaners, had exactly the same problem, and he used creative problem solving to find the answer. While many companies focused on developing a better vacuum cleaner filter, he realized that he had to think differently and find a more creative solution. So, he devised a revolutionary way to separate the dirt from the air, and invented the world's first bagless vacuum cleaner. [1]

Creative problem solving (CPS) is a way of solving problems or identifying opportunities when conventional thinking has failed. It encourages you to find fresh perspectives and come up with innovative solutions, so that you can formulate a plan to overcome obstacles and reach your goals.

In this article, we'll explore what CPS is, and we'll look at its key principles. We'll also provide a model that you can use to generate creative solutions.

About Creative Problem Solving

Alex Osborn, founder of the Creative Education Foundation, first developed creative problem solving in the 1940s, along with the term "brainstorming." And, together with Sid Parnes, he developed the Osborn-Parnes Creative Problem Solving Process. Despite its age, this model remains a valuable approach to problem solving. [2]

The early Osborn-Parnes model inspired a number of other tools. One of these is the 2011 CPS Learner's Model, also from the Creative Education Foundation, developed by Dr Gerard J. Puccio, Marie Mance, and co-workers. In this article, we'll use this modern four-step model to explore how you can use CPS to generate innovative, effective solutions.

Why Use Creative Problem Solving?

Dealing with obstacles and challenges is a regular part of working life, and overcoming them isn't always easy. To improve your products, services, communications, and interpersonal skills, and for you and your organization to excel, you need to encourage creative thinking and find innovative solutions that work.

CPS asks you to separate your "divergent" and "convergent" thinking as a way to do this. Divergent thinking is the process of generating lots of potential solutions and possibilities, otherwise known as brainstorming. And convergent thinking involves evaluating those options and choosing the most promising one. Often, we use a combination of the two to develop new ideas or solutions. However, using them simultaneously can result in unbalanced or biased decisions, and can stifle idea generation.

For more on divergent and convergent thinking, and for a useful diagram, see the book "Facilitator's Guide to Participatory Decision-Making." [3]

Core Principles of Creative Problem Solving

CPS has four core principles. Let's explore each one in more detail:

  • Divergent and convergent thinking must be balanced. The key to creativity is learning how to identify and balance divergent and convergent thinking (done separately), and knowing when to practice each one.
  • Ask problems as questions. When you rephrase problems and challenges as open-ended questions with multiple possibilities, it's easier to come up with solutions. Asking these types of questions generates lots of rich information, while asking closed questions tends to elicit short answers, such as confirmations or disagreements. Problem statements tend to generate limited responses, or none at all.
  • Defer or suspend judgment. As Alex Osborn learned from his work on brainstorming, judging solutions early on tends to shut down idea generation. Instead, there's an appropriate and necessary time to judge ideas during the convergence stage.
  • Focus on "Yes, and," rather than "No, but." Language matters when you're generating information and ideas. "Yes, and" encourages people to expand their thoughts, which is necessary during certain stages of CPS. Using the word "but" – preceded by "yes" or "no" – ends conversation, and often negates what's come before it.

How to Use the Tool

Let's explore how you can use each of the four steps of the CPS Learner's Model (shown in figure 1, below) to generate innovative ideas and solutions.

Figure 1 – CPS Learner's Model

creative problem solving model

Explore the Vision

Identify your goal, desire or challenge. This is a crucial first step because it's easy to assume, incorrectly, that you know what the problem is. However, you may have missed something or have failed to understand the issue fully, and defining your objective can provide clarity. Read our article, 5 Whys , for more on getting to the root of a problem quickly.

Gather Data

Once you've identified and understood the problem, you can collect information about it and develop a clear understanding of it. Make a note of details such as who and what is involved, all the relevant facts, and everyone's feelings and opinions.

Formulate Questions

When you've increased your awareness of the challenge or problem you've identified, ask questions that will generate solutions. Think about the obstacles you might face and the opportunities they could present.

Explore Ideas

Generate ideas that answer the challenge questions you identified in step 1. It can be tempting to consider solutions that you've tried before, as our minds tend to return to habitual thinking patterns that stop us from producing new ideas. However, this is a chance to use your creativity .

Brainstorming and Mind Maps are great ways to explore ideas during this divergent stage of CPS. And our articles, Encouraging Team Creativity , Problem Solving , Rolestorming , Hurson's Productive Thinking Model , and The Four-Step Innovation Process , can also help boost your creativity.

See our Brainstorming resources within our Creativity section for more on this.

Formulate Solutions

This is the convergent stage of CPS, where you begin to focus on evaluating all of your possible options and come up with solutions. Analyze whether potential solutions meet your needs and criteria, and decide whether you can implement them successfully. Next, consider how you can strengthen them and determine which ones are the best "fit." Our articles, Critical Thinking and ORAPAPA , are useful here.

4. Implement

Formulate a plan.

Once you've chosen the best solution, it's time to develop a plan of action. Start by identifying resources and actions that will allow you to implement your chosen solution. Next, communicate your plan and make sure that everyone involved understands and accepts it.

There have been many adaptations of CPS since its inception, because nobody owns the idea.

For example, Scott Isaksen and Donald Treffinger formed The Creative Problem Solving Group Inc . and the Center for Creative Learning , and their model has evolved over many versions. Blair Miller, Jonathan Vehar and Roger L. Firestien also created their own version, and Dr Gerard J. Puccio, Mary C. Murdock, and Marie Mance developed CPS: The Thinking Skills Model. [4] Tim Hurson created The Productive Thinking Model , and Paul Reali developed CPS: Competencies Model. [5]

Sid Parnes continued to adapt the CPS model by adding concepts such as imagery and visualization , and he founded the Creative Studies Project to teach CPS. For more information on the evolution and development of the CPS process, see Creative Problem Solving Version 6.1 by Donald J. Treffinger, Scott G. Isaksen, and K. Brian Dorval. [6]

Creative Problem Solving (CPS) Infographic

See our infographic on Creative Problem Solving .

creative problem solving model

Creative problem solving (CPS) is a way of using your creativity to develop new ideas and solutions to problems. The process is based on separating divergent and convergent thinking styles, so that you can focus your mind on creating at the first stage, and then evaluating at the second stage.

There have been many adaptations of the original Osborn-Parnes model, but they all involve a clear structure of identifying the problem, generating new ideas, evaluating the options, and then formulating a plan for successful implementation.

[1] Entrepreneur (2012). James Dyson on Using Failure to Drive Success [online]. Available here . [Accessed May 27, 2022.]

[2] Creative Education Foundation (2015). The CPS Process [online]. Available here . [Accessed May 26, 2022.]

[3] Kaner, S. et al. (2014). 'Facilitator′s Guide to Participatory Decision–Making,' San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

[4] Puccio, G., Mance, M., and Murdock, M. (2011). 'Creative Leadership: Skils That Drive Change' (2nd Ed.), Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

[5] OmniSkills (2013). Creative Problem Solving [online]. Available here . [Accessed May 26, 2022].

[6] Treffinger, G., Isaksen, S., and Dorval, B. (2010). Creative Problem Solving (CPS Version 6.1). Center for Creative Learning, Inc. & Creative Problem Solving Group, Inc. Available here .

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What Is Creative Problem-Solving & Why Is It Important?

Business team using creative problem-solving

  • 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.

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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.

Design Thinking and Innovation | Uncover creative solutions to your business problems | Learn More

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:

The four stages of design thinking: clarify, ideate, develop, and implement

  • 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.

Alternate Worlds

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.

Which HBS Online Entrepreneurship and Innovation Course is Right for You? | Download Your Free Flowchart

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.

creative problem solving model

About the Author

  • Board of Directors

Creative Education Foundation

What is CPS?

Cps = c reative p roblem s olving, cps is a proven method for approaching a problem or a challenge in an imaginative and innovative way. it helps you redefine the problems and opportunities you face, come up with new, innovative responses and solutions, and then take action..

creative problem solving model

Why does CPS work?

CPS begins with two assumptions:

  • Everyone is creative in some way.
  • Creative skills can be learned and enhanced.

Osborn noted there are two distinct kinds of thinking that are essential to being creative:

Divergent thinking.

Brainstorming is often misunderstood as the entire Creative Problem Solving process.   Brainstorming is the divergent thinking phase of the CPS process.   It is not simply a group of people in a meeting coming up with ideas in a disorganized fashion. Brainstorming at its core is generating lots of ideas.  Divergence allows us to state and move beyond obvious ideas to breakthrough ideas. (Fun Fact: Alex Osborn, founder of CEF, coined the term “brainstorm.” Osborn was the “O” from the ad agency BBDO.)

Convergent Thinking

Convergent thinking applies criteria to brainstormed ideas so that those ideas can become actionable innovations.  Divergence provides the raw material that pushes beyond every day thinking, and convergence tools help us screen, select, evaluate, and refine ideas, while retaining novelty and newness.

To drive a car, you need both the gas and the brake.

But you cannot use the gas and brake pedals at the same time — you use them alternately to make the car go. Think of the gas pedal as Divergence , and the brake pedal as Convergence . Used together you move forward to a new destination.

Each of us use divergent and convergent thinking daily, intuitively. CPS is a deliberate process that allows you to harness your natural creative ability and apply it purposefully to problems, challenges, and opportunities.

creative problem solving model

The CPS Process

Based on the osborn-parnes process, the cps model uses plain language and recent research., the basic structure is comprised of four stages with a total of six explicit process steps. , each step uses divergent and convergent thinking..

creative problem solving model

Learner’s Model based on work of G.J. Puccio, M. Mance, M.C. Murdock, B. Miller, J. Vehar, R. Firestien, S. Thurber, & D. Nielsen (2011)

Explore the Vision.   Identify the goal, wish, or challenge.

Gather Data.   Describe and generate data to enable a clear understanding of the challenge.

Formulate Challenges. Sharpen awareness of the challenge and create challenge questions that invite solutions.

Explore Ideas. Generate ideas that answer the challenge questions.

Formulate Solutions. To move from ideas to solutions. Evaluate, strengthen, and select solutions for best “fit.”

Formulate a Plan.  Explore acceptance and identify resources and actions that will support implementation of the selected solution(s).

Explore Ideas. Generate ideas that answer the challenge question

Core Principles of Creative Problem Solving

  • Everyone is creative.
  • Divergent and Convergent Thinking Must be Balanced.  Keys to creativity are learning ways to identify and balance expanding and contracting thinking (done separately), and knowing  when  to practice them.
  • Ask Problems as Questions.  Solutions are more readily invited and developed when  challenges and problems are restated as open-ended questions  with multiple possibilities. Such questions generate lots of rich information, while closed-ended questions tend to elicit confirmation or denial. Statements tend to generate limited or no response at all.
  • Defer or Suspend Judgment.  As Osborn learned in his early work on brainstorming, the  instantaneous judgment in response to an idea shuts down idea generation . There is an appropriate and necessary time to apply judgement when converging.
  • Focus on “Yes, and” rather than “No, but.”  When generating information and ideas, language matters.  “Yes, and…” allows continuation and expansion , which is necessary in certain stages of CPS. The use of the word “but” – preceded by “yes” or “no” – closes down conversation, negating everything that has come before it.

What is creative problem-solving?

Creative problem-solving in action

Table of Contents

An introduction to creative problem-solving.

Creative problem-solving is an essential skill that goes beyond basic brainstorming . It entails a holistic approach to challenges, melding logical processes with imaginative techniques to conceive innovative solutions. As our world becomes increasingly complex and interconnected, the ability to think creatively and solve problems with fresh perspectives becomes invaluable for individuals, businesses, and communities alike.

Importance of divergent and convergent thinking

At the heart of creative problem-solving lies the balance between divergent and convergent thinking. Divergent thinking encourages free-flowing, unrestricted ideation, leading to a plethora of potential solutions. Convergent thinking, on the other hand, is about narrowing down those options to find the most viable solution. This dual approach ensures both breadth and depth in the problem-solving process.

Emphasis on collaboration and diverse perspectives

No single perspective has a monopoly on insight. Collaborating with individuals from different backgrounds, experiences, and areas of expertise offers a richer tapestry of ideas. Embracing diverse perspectives not only broadens the pool of solutions but also ensures more holistic and well-rounded outcomes.

Nurturing a risk-taking and experimental mindset

The fear of failure can be the most significant barrier to any undertaking. It's essential to foster an environment where risk-taking and experimentation are celebrated. This involves viewing failures not as setbacks but as invaluable learning experiences that pave the way for eventual success.

The role of intuition and lateral thinking

Sometimes, the path to a solution is not linear. Lateral thinking and intuition allow for making connections between seemingly unrelated elements. These 'eureka' moments often lead to breakthrough solutions that conventional methods might overlook.

Stages of the creative problem-solving process

The creative problem-solving process is typically broken down into several stages. Each stage plays a crucial role in understanding, addressing, and resolving challenges in innovative ways.

Clarifying: Understanding the real problem or challenge

Before diving into solutions, one must first understand the problem at its core. This involves asking probing questions, gathering data, and viewing the challenge from various angles. A clear comprehension of the problem ensures that effort and resources are channeled correctly.

Ideating: Generating diverse and multiple solutions

Once the problem is clarified, the focus shifts to generating as many solutions as possible. This stage champions quantity over quality, as the aim is to explore the breadth of possibilities without immediately passing judgment.

Developing: Refining and honing promising solutions

With a list of potential solutions in hand, it's time to refine and develop the most promising ones. This involves evaluating each idea's feasibility, potential impact, and any associated risks, then enhancing or combining solutions to maximize effectiveness.

Implementing: Acting on the best solutions

Once a solution has been honed, it's time to put it into action. This involves planning, allocating resources, and monitoring the results to ensure the solution is effectively addressing the problem.

Techniques for creative problem-solving

Solving complex problems in a fresh way can be a daunting task to start on. Here are a few techniques that can help kickstart the process:


Brainstorming is a widely-used technique that involves generating as many ideas as possible within a set timeframe. Variants like brainwriting (where ideas are written down rather than spoken) and reverse brainstorming (thinking of ways to cause the problem) can offer fresh perspectives and ensure broader participation.

Mind mapping

Mind mapping is a visual tool that helps structure information, making connections between disparate pieces of data. It is particularly useful in organizing thoughts, visualizing relationships, and ensuring a comprehensive approach to a problem.

SCAMPER technique

SCAMPER stands for Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Put to another use, Eliminate, and Reverse. This technique prompts individuals to look at existing products, services, or processes in new ways, leading to innovative solutions.

Benefits of creative problem-solving

Creative problem-solving offers numerous benefits, both at the individual and organizational levels. Some of the most prominent advantages include:

Finding novel solutions to old problems

Traditional problems that have resisted conventional solutions often succumb to creative approaches. By looking at challenges from fresh angles and blending different techniques, we can unlock novel solutions previously deemed impossible.

Enhanced adaptability in changing environments

In our rapidly evolving world, the ability to adapt is critical. Creative problem-solving equips individuals and organizations with the agility to pivot and adapt to changing circumstances, ensuring resilience and longevity.

Building collaborative and innovative teams

Teams that embrace creative problem-solving tend to be more collaborative and innovative. They value diversity of thought, are open to experimentation, and are more likely to challenge the status quo, leading to groundbreaking results.

Fostering a culture of continuous learning and improvement

Creative problem-solving is not just about finding solutions; it's also about continuous learning and improvement. By encouraging an environment of curiosity and exploration, organizations can ensure that they are always at the cutting edge, ready to tackle future challenges head-on.

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6.2 Creative Problem-Solving Process

Portions of the material in this section are based on original work by Geoffrey Graybeal and produced with support from the Rebus Community. The original is freely available under the terms of the CC BY 4.0 license at https://press.rebus.community/media-innovation-and-entrepreneurship/.

Learning Objectives

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Describe the five steps in the creative problem-solving process
  • Identify and describe common creative problem-solving tools

Creativity can be an important trait of an entrepreneur, as the chapter on Creativity, Innovation, and Invention discussed. In that discussion, we learned about creativity’s role in innovation . Here, we will look in more depth at creativity’s role in problem solving . Let’s first formally define creativity as the development of original ideas to solve an issue. The intent of being an entrepreneur is to break away from practical norms and use imagination to embrace quick and effective solutions to an existing problem, usually outside the corporate environment.

The Steps of the Creative Problem-Solving Process

Training oneself to think like an entrepreneur means learning the steps to evaluating a challenge: clarify, ideate, develop, implement, and evaluate ( Figure 6.9 ).

Step 1: Clarify

To clarify is the critical step of recognizing the existence of a gap between the current state and a desired state. This can also be thought of as having need awareness , which occurs when the entrepreneur notes a gap between societal or customer needs and actual circumstances. Clarifying the problem by speaking with clients and developing a detailed description of the problem brings the specifics of a problem to light. Failure to identify the specifics of a problem leaves the entrepreneur with the impossible task of solving a ghost problem, a problem that is fully unknown or unseen. To establish and maintain credibility, an entrepreneur must clarify the problem by focusing on solving the problem itself, rather than solving a symptom of the problem.

For example, a farm could have polluted water, but it would not be enough to solve the problem only on that farm. Clarifying would involve identifying the source of the pollution to adequately tackle the problem. After gaining an understanding of a problem, the entrepreneur should begin to formulate plans for eliminating the gap. A fishbone diagram , as shown in Figure 6.10 , is a tool that can be used to identify the causes of such a problem.

In the case of our water pollution example, a fishbone diagram exploring the issue might reveal the items shown in Figure 6.11 .

Step 2: Ideate

To ideate is the step of the creative problem-solving process that involves generating and detailing ideas by the entrepreneur. After collecting all information relevant to the problem, the entrepreneur lists as many causes of the problem as possible. This is the step in which the largest variety of ideas are put forth. Each idea must be evaluated for feasibility and cost as a solution to the problem. If a farm does not have clean water, for example, the entrepreneur must list causes of toxic water and eliminate as many of those causes as possible. The entrepreneur must then move forward investigating solutions to bring the water back to a safe state. If, say, nearby livestock are polluting the water, the livestock should be isolated from the water source.

Step 3: Develop

To develop is the step in which the entrepreneur takes the list of ideas generated and tests each solution for feasibility. The entrepreneur must consider the cost of each idea and the obstacles to implementation. In the preceding example, adding a chemical to the water may not be a feasible solution to the farmer. Not every farmer wants additional chloride or fluoride added to the water due to the effect on both humans and livestock. These tradeoffs should be addressed in the feasibility assessment. The farmer might prefer a filtration system, but the cost of that solution might not be practicable. The entrepreneur should identify and assess alternative solutions to find one that is most cost-effective and feasible to the customer.

Step 4: Implement

To implement is the step in which the solution to the problem is tested and evaluated. The entrepreneur walks through the planned implementation with the client and tests each part of the solution, if a service, or thoroughly tests a developed good. The entrepreneur implements the solution and goes through a structured system of follow-up to ensure the solution remains effective and viable. In the water example, the solution would be reducing runoff from toxic insecticides by adding prairie strips, buffers of grass, and vegetation along banks of streams.

Step 5: Evaluate

To evaluate is the step in which the final solution is assessed. This is a very important step that entrepreneurs often overlook. Any fallacy in the implementation of the product or service is reassessed, and new solutions are implemented. A continual testing process may be needed to find the final solution. The prairie strips, buffers of grass, and vegetation along banks of streams chosen in the farming water example should then be analyzed and tested to ensure the chosen solution changed the content of the water.

Are You Ready?

Implementing creative problem solving.

Removing waste is a problem, and it can also present an entrepreneurial opportunity. Try to examine ways in which waste products that you usually pay to have hauled away can now generate revenue. Whether it’s recycling aluminum cans or cardboard, or garbage that could be used to feed animals, your task is to come up with solutions to this entrepreneurial-oriented problem.

  • Try following the first step of the creative problem-solving process and clearly identify the problem.
  • Next, gather data and formulate the challenge.
  • Then, explore ideas and come up with solutions.
  • Develop a plan of action.
  • Finally, note how you would evaluate the effectiveness of your solution.

Using Creativity to Solve Problems

Entrepreneurs are faced with solving many problems as they develop their ideas for filling gaps, whether those opportunities involve establishing a new company or starting a new enterprise within an existing company. Some of these problems include staffing, hiring and managing employees, handling legal compliance, funding, marketing, and paying taxes. Beyond the mundane activities listed, the entrepreneur, or the team that the entrepreneur puts in place, is indispensable in maintaining the ongoing creativity behind the product line or service offered. Innovation and creativity in the business are necessary to expand the product line or develop a groundbreaking service.

It is not necessary for the entrepreneur to feel isolated when it comes to finding creative solutions to a problem. There are societies, tools, and new methods available to spur the creativity of the entrepreneur that will further support the success and expansion of a new enterprise. 14 Learning and using entrepreneurial methods to solve problems alleviates the stress many startup owners feel. The entrepreneur’s creativity will increase using collaborative methodologies . Some entrepreneurial collaborative methodologies include crowdsourcing, brainstorming, storyboarding, conducting quick online surveys to test ideas and concepts, and team creativity activities.


Professor Daren Brabham at the University of Southern California has written books on crowdsourcing and touts its potential in for-profit and not-for-profit business sectors. He defines it simply as “an online, distributed problem-solving and production model.” 15 Crowdsourcing involves teams of amateurs and nonexperts working together to form a solution to a problem. 16 The idea, as cbsnews.com’s Jennifer Alsever has put it, is to “tap into the collective intelligence of the public at large to complete business-related tasks that a company would normally either perform itself or outsource to a third-party provider. Yet free labor is only a narrow part of crowdsourcing's appeal. More importantly, it enables managers to expand the size of their talent pool while also gaining deeper insight into what customers really want. The challenge is to take a cautionary approach to the ‘wisdom of the crowd,’ which can lead to a ‘herd’ mentality.” 17

Link to Learning

Read this article that discusses what crowdsourcing is, how to use it, and its benefits for more information.

This new business prototype, similar to outsourcing, features an enterprise posting a problem online and asking for volunteers to consider the problem and propose solutions. Volunteers earn a reward, such as prize money, promotional materials like a T-shirt, royalties on creative outlets like photos or designs, and in some cases, compensation for their labor. Before proposing the solution, volunteers learn that the solutions become the intellectual property of the startup posting the problem. The solution is then mass produced for profit by the startup that posted the problem. 18 The process evolves into the crowdsourcing process after the enterprise mass produces and profits from the labor of the volunteers and the team. Entrepreneurs should consider that untapped masses have solutions for many issues for which agendas do not yet exist. Crowdsourcing can exploit those agendas and add to the tools used to stimulate personal creativity. This type of innovation is planned and strategically implemented for profit.

For example, Bombardier held a crowdsourced innovation contest to solicit input on the future of train interiors, including seat design and coach class interior. A corporate jury judged the submissions, with the top ten receiving computers or cash prizes. Companies are often constrained, however, by internal rules limiting open source or external idea sourcing, as they could be accused of “stealing” an idea. While crowdsourcing outside of software can be problematic, some products such as MakerBot ’s 3D printers, 3DR’ s drones, and Jibo ’s Social Robot have used developer kits and “makers” to help build a community and stimulate innovation from the outside.

Work It Out

A crowdsourced potato chip.

In an effort to increase sales among millennials, PepsiCo turned to crowdsourcing to get new flavor ideas for their Lay’s potato chips (called Walker’s in the UK). Their 2012 campaign, “Do Us a Flavor,” was so successful that they received over 14 million submissions. The winner was Cheesy Garlic Bread, which increased their potato chip sales by 8 percent during the first three months after the launch.

  • What are some other products that would work well for a crowdsourced campaign contest?
  • What items wouldn’t work well?

Amazon ’s Mechanical Turk is an online crowdsourcing platform that allows individuals to post tasks for workers to complete. In many instances, these tasks are compensated, but the payment can be less than one dollar per item completed. Mechanical Turk is one of the largest and most well-known crowdsourcing platforms, but there are a number of other more niche ones as well that would apply to smaller markets. In the case of innovation contests and outsourced tasks from corporations, those tasks may be hosted internally by the corporation.


Brainstorming is the generation of ideas in an environment free of judgment or dissension with the goal of creating solutions. See Creativity, Innovation, and Invention to refresh yourself on this technique. Brainstorming is meant to stimulate participants into thinking about problem solving in a new way. Using a multifunctional group, meaning participants come from different departments and with different skill sets, gives entrepreneurs and support teams a genuine chance to suggest and actualize ideas. The group works together to refine and prototype potential solutions to a problem.

Brainstorming is a highly researched and often practiced technique for the development of innovative solutions. One of the more successful proponents of brainstorming is the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) . UNICEF faces unique problems of solving resource problems for mothers and children in underdeveloped nations. See how UNICEF practices brainstorming to solve problems including child survival, gender inclusion, refugee crises, education, and others.

The setting for a brainstorming session should remain as informal and relaxed as possible. The group needs to avoid standard solutions. All ideas are welcome and listed and considered with no censorship and with no regard to administrative restrictions. All team members have an equal voice. The focus of brainstorming is on quantity of ideas rather than on the ideal solution provided in every suggestion. A classic entrepreneurial brainstorming activity, as popularized by business software developer Strategyzer , is known as the “silly cow” exercise. Teams come up with ideas for new business models pertaining to a cow, with the results often outrageous, ranging from sponsored cows to stroking cows for therapeutic release. Participants are asked to identify some aspect of a cow and develop three business models around that concept in a short time period, typically two minutes or fewer. The activity is designed to get creative juices flowing.

Watch this video from ABC’s Nightline that shows how IDEO designed a new shopping cart for an example of a design process that involves brainstorming.


Storyboarding is the process of presenting an idea in a step-by-step graphic format, as Figure 6.12 shows. This tool is useful when the entrepreneur is attempting to visualize a solution to a problem. The steps to the solution of a problem are sketched and hung in graphic format. Once the original graphic is placed, images of steps working toward a solution are added, subtracted, and rearranged on a continual basis, until the ultimate solution emerges in the ultimate graphic format. For many years, entrepreneurs have used this process to create a pre-visual for various media sequences.

Team Creativity

Team creativity is the process whereby an entrepreneur works with a team to create an unexpected solution for an issue or challenge. Teams progress through the same creative problem-solving process described already: clarify, ideate, develop, implement, and evaluate. The main advantage of team creativity is the collaboration and support members receive from one another. Great teams trust in other team members, have diverse members with diverse points of view, are cohesive, and have chemistry.

Team members should work in a stress-free and relaxing environment. Reinforcement and expansion of ideas in the team environment motivates the team to continually expand horizons toward problem solution. A small idea in a team may spark the imagination of a team member to an original idea. Mark Zuckerberg , cofounder of Facebook , once said, “The most important thing for you as an entrepreneur trying to build something is, you need to build a really good team. And that’s what I spend all my time on.” 19

Entrepreneur In Action

Taaluma totes 20.

Young entrepreneurs Jack DuFour and Alley Heffern began to notice the beautiful fabrics that came from the different countries they visited. The entrepreneurs thought about what could be done with the fabrics to create employment opportunities both in the country from which the fabric originated and in their home base of Virginia. They decided to test producing totes from the fabrics they found and formed Taaluma Totes ( Figure 6.13 ). DuFour and Heffern also wanted to promote the production of these fabrics and help underserved populations in countries where the fabric originated maintain a living or follow a dream.

The team continued to test the process and gathered original fabrics, which they sent to Virginia to create totes. They trained individuals with disabilities in Virginia to manufacture the totes, thus serving populations in the United States. The entrepreneurs then decided to take 20 percent of their profits and make microloans to farmers and small business owners in the countries where the fabric originated to create jobs there. Microloans are small loans, below $50,000, which certain lenders offer to enterprising startups. These startups, for various reasons (they are in poor nations, at poverty level), can’t afford a traditional loan from a major bank. The lenders offer business support to the borrower, which in turn helps the borrower repay the microloan. The microloans from Taaluma are repaid when the borrower is able. Repayments are used to buy more fabric, completing Taaluma’s desire to serve dual populations. If the process proved unsuccessful, the co-owners would revise the process to meet the plan’s requirements.

DuFour and Heffern now have fabrics from dozens of countries from Thailand to Ecuador. The totes are specialized with features to meet individual needs. The product line is innovated regularly and Taaluma Totes serves a dual purpose of employing persons with disabilities in Virginia and creating employment for underserved populations in other countries.

  • 14 “Creating a World of Opportunities.” The Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization . n.d. https://www.c-e-o.org/
  • 15 Daren C. Brabham. “Crowdsourcing as a Model for Problem Solving: An Introduction and Cases.” Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies 14, no. 1 (2008): 75–90.
  • 16 Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey. “How Crowdsourcing Is Shaping the Future of Everything.” Entrepreneur. January 13, 2018. https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/307438
  • 17 Jennifer Alsever. “What Is Crowdsourcing?” CBS News . May 1, 2008. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/what-is-crowdsourcing
  • 18 Daren C. Brabham. “Crowdsourcing as a Model for Problem Solving: An Introduction and Cases.” Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies 14, no. 1 (2008): 75–90.
  • 19 “Three Tips for Entrepreneurs Creating the Perfect Team.” Virgin . n.d. https://www.virgin.com/entrepreneur/three-tips-entrepreneurs-creating-perfect-team
  • 20 “Backpacks That Carry a Country.” Taaluma Totes. n.d. https://www.carryacountry.com/pages/about

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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.


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.


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 divergent and convergent thinking 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.


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.

Discover it. Right here, you can uncover the basics of Creative Problem Solving and CPS facilitation. Click the model above, or click here to get started .

Experience it. OmniSkills 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 , the host of this site; the Creative Problem Solving Institute ; the International Center for Studies in Creativity ; and others.

Download it. We have free quick reference guides and worksheets, which you can download right here .

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

Talk to us. OmniSkills is available to answer your questions and help you in whatever way you need. Email us here .

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Unleash Your Greatest Leadership Potential

Creative Problem Solving

Creative Problem Solving

“Every problem is an opportunity in disguise.” — John Adams

Imagine if you come up with new ideas and solve problems better, faster, easier?

Imagine if you could easily leverage the thinking from multiple experts and different points of view?

That’s the promise and the premise of Creative Problem Solving.

As Einstein put it, “Creativity is intelligence having fun.”

Creative problem solving is a systematic approach that empowers individuals and teams to unleash their imagination , explore diverse perspectives, and generate innovative solutions to complex challenges.

Throughout my years at Microsoft, I’ve used variations of Creative Problem Solving to tackle big, audacious challenges and create new opportunities for innovation.

I this article, I walkthrough the original Creative Problem Solving process and variations so that you can more fully appreciate the power of the process and how it’s evolved over the years.

On This Page

Innovation is a Team Sport What is Creative Problem Solving? Variations of Creative Problem Solving Osborn-Parnes Creative Problem Solving Criticisms of Creative Problem Solving Creative Problem Solving 21st Century FourSight Thinking Profiles Basadur’s Innovative Process Synetics SCAMPER Design Thinking

Innovation is a Team Sport

Recognizing that innovation is a team sport , I understood the importance of equipping myself and my teams with the right tools for the job.

By leveraging different problem-solving approaches, I have been able to navigate complex landscapes , think outside the box, and find unique solutions.

Creative Problem Solving has served as a valuable compass , guiding me to explore uncharted territories and unlock the potential for groundbreaking ideas.

With a diverse set of tools in my toolbox, I’ve been better prepared to navigate the dynamic world of innovation and contribute to the success and amplify impact for many teams and many orgs for many years.

By learning and teaching Creative Problem Solving we empower diverse teams to appreciate and embrace cognitive diversity to solve problems and create new opportunities with skill.

What is the Creative Problem Solving Process?

The Creative Problem Solving (CPS) framework is a systematic approach for generating innovative solutions to complex problems.

It’s effectively a process framework.

It provides a structured process that helps individuals and teams think creatively, explore possibilities, and develop practical solutions.

The Creative Problem Solving process framework typically consists of the following stages:

  • Clarify : In this stage, the problem or challenge is clearly defined, ensuring a shared understanding among participants. The key objectives, constraints, and desired outcomes are identified.
  • Generate Ideas : During this stage, participants engage in divergent thinking to generate a wide range of ideas and potential solutions. The focus is on quantity and deferring judgment, encouraging free-flowing creativity.
  • Develop Solutions : In this stage, the generated ideas are evaluated, refined, and developed into viable solutions. Participants explore the feasibility, practicality, and potential impact of each idea, considering the resources and constraints at hand.
  • Implement : Once a solution or set of solutions is selected, an action plan is developed to guide the implementation process. This includes defining specific steps, assigning responsibilities, setting timelines, and identifying the necessary resources.
  • Evaluate : After implementing the solution, the outcomes and results are evaluated to assess the effectiveness and impact. Lessons learned are captured to inform future problem-solving efforts and improve the process.

Throughout the Creative Problem Solving framework, various creativity techniques and tools can be employed to stimulate idea generation, such as brainstorming, mind mapping, SCAMPER (Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Put to another use, Eliminate, Reverse), and others.

These techniques help break through traditional thinking patterns and encourage novel approaches to problem-solving.

What are Variations of the Creative Problem Solving Process?

There are several variations of the Creative Problem Solving process, each emphasizing different steps or stages.

Here are five variations that are commonly referenced:

  • Osborn-Parnes Creative Problem Solving : This is one of the earliest and most widely used versions of Creative Problem Solving. It consists of six stages: Objective Finding, Fact Finding, Problem Finding, Idea Finding, Solution Finding, and Acceptance Finding. It follows a systematic approach to identify and solve problems creatively.
  • Creative Problem Solving 21st Century : Creative Problem Solving 21st Century, developed by Roger Firestien, is an innovative approach that empowers individuals to identify and take action towards achieving their goals, wishes, or challenges by providing a structured process to generate ideas, develop solutions, and create a plan of action.
  • FourSight Thinking Profiles : This model introduces four stages in the Creative Problem Solving process: Clarify, Ideate, Develop, and Implement. It emphasizes the importance of understanding the problem, generating a range of ideas, developing and evaluating those ideas, and finally implementing the best solution.
  • Basadur’s Innovative Process : Basadur’s Innovative Process, developed by Min Basadur, is a systematic and iterative process that guides teams through eight steps to effectively identify, define, generate ideas, evaluate, and implement solutions, resulting in creative and innovative outcomes.
  • Synectics : Synectics is a Creative Problem Solving variation that focuses on creating new connections and insights. It involves stages such as Problem Clarification, Idea Generation, Evaluation, and Action Planning. Synectics encourages thinking from diverse perspectives and applying analogical reasoning.
  • SCAMPER : SCAMPER is an acronym representing different creative thinking techniques to stimulate idea generation. Each letter stands for a strategy: Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Put to another use, Eliminate, and Rearrange. SCAMPER is used as a tool within the Creative Problem Solving process to generate innovative ideas by applying these strategies.
  • Design Thinking : While not strictly a variation of Creative Problem Solving, Design Thinking is a problem-solving approach that shares similarities with Creative Problem Solving. It typically includes stages such as Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, and Test. Design Thinking focuses on understanding users’ needs, ideating and prototyping solutions, and iterating based on feedback.

These are just a few examples of variations within the Creative Problem Solving framework. Each variation provides a unique perspective on the problem-solving process, allowing individuals and teams to approach challenges in different ways.

Osborn-Parnes Creative Problem Solving (CPS)

The original Creative Problem Solving (CPS) process, developed by Alex Osborn and Sidney Parnes, consists of the following steps:

  • Objective Finding : In this step, the problem or challenge is clearly defined, and the objectives and goals are established. It involves understanding the problem from different perspectives, gathering relevant information, and identifying the desired outcomes.
  • Fact Finding : The objective of this step is to gather information, data, and facts related to the problem. It involves conducting research, analyzing the current situation, and seeking a comprehensive understanding of the factors influencing the problem.
  • Problem Finding : In this step, the focus is on identifying the root causes and underlying issues contributing to the problem. It involves reframing the problem, exploring it from different angles, and asking probing questions to uncover insights and uncover potential areas for improvement.
  • Idea Finding : This step involves generating a wide range of ideas and potential solutions. Participants engage in divergent thinking techniques, such as brainstorming, to produce as many ideas as possible without judgment or evaluation. The aim is to encourage creativity and explore novel possibilities.
  • Solution Finding : After generating a pool of ideas, the next step is to evaluate and select the most promising solutions. This involves convergent thinking, where participants assess the feasibility, desirability, and viability of each idea. Criteria are established to assess and rank the solutions based on their potential effectiveness.
  • Acceptance Finding : In this step, the selected solution is refined, developed, and adapted to fit the specific context and constraints. Strategies are identified to overcome potential obstacles and challenges. Participants work to gain acceptance and support for the chosen solution from stakeholders.
  • Solution Implementation : Once the solution is finalized, an action plan is developed to guide its implementation. This includes defining specific steps, assigning responsibilities, setting timelines, and securing the necessary resources. The solution is put into action, and progress is monitored to ensure successful execution.
  • Monitoring and Evaluation : The final step involves tracking the progress and evaluating the outcomes of the implemented solution. Lessons learned are captured, and feedback is gathered to inform future problem-solving efforts. This step helps refine the process and improve future problem-solving endeavors.

The CPS process is designed to be iterative and flexible, allowing for feedback loops and refinement at each stage. It encourages collaboration, open-mindedness, and the exploration of diverse perspectives to foster creative problem-solving and innovation.

Criticisms of the Original Creative Problem Solving Approach

While Osborn-Parnes Creative Problem Solving is a widely used and effective problem-solving framework, it does have some criticisms, challenges, and limitations.

These include:

  • Linear Process : CPS follows a structured and linear process, which may not fully capture the dynamic and non-linear nature of complex problems.
  • Overemphasis on Rationality : CPS primarily focuses on logical and rational thinking, potentially overlooking the value of intuitive or emotional insights in the problem-solving process.
  • Limited Cultural Diversity : The CPS framework may not adequately address the cultural and contextual differences that influence problem-solving approaches across diverse groups and regions.
  • Time and Resource Intensive : Implementing the CPS process can be time-consuming and resource-intensive, requiring significant commitment and investment from participants and organizations.
  • Lack of Flexibility : The structured nature of CPS may restrict the exploration of alternative problem-solving methods, limiting adaptability to different situations or contexts.
  • Limited Emphasis on Collaboration : Although CPS encourages group participation, it may not fully leverage the collective intelligence and diverse perspectives of teams, potentially limiting the effectiveness of collaborative problem-solving.
  • Potential Resistance to Change : Organizations or individuals accustomed to traditional problem-solving approaches may encounter resistance or difficulty in embracing the CPS methodology and its associated mindset shift.

Despite these criticisms and challenges, the CPS framework remains a valuable tool for systematic problem-solving.

Adapting and supplementing it with other methodologies and approaches can help overcome some of its limitations and enhance overall effectiveness.

Creative Problem Solving 21st Century

Roger Firestien is a master facilitator of the Creative Problem Solving process. He has been using it, studying it, researching it, and teaching it for 40 years.

According to him, the 21st century requires a new approach to problem-solving that is more creative and innovative.

He has developed a program that focuses on assisting facilitators of the Creative Problem Solving Process to smoothly and confidently transition from one stage to the next in the Creative Problem Solving process as well as learn how to talk less and accomplish more while facilitating Creative Problem Solving.

Creative Problem Solving empowers individuals to identify and take action towards achieving their goals, manifesting their aspirations, or addressing challenges they wish to overcome.

Unlike approaches that solely focus on problem-solving, CPS recognizes that the user’s objective may not necessarily be framed as a problem. Instead, CPS supports users in realizing their goals and desires, providing a versatile framework to guide them towards success.

Why Creative Problem Solving 21st Century?

Creative Problem Solving 21st Century addresses challenges with the original Creative Problem Solving method by adapting it to the demands of the modern era. Roger Firestien recognized that the 21st century requires a new approach to problem-solving that is more creative and innovative.

The Creative Problem Solving 21st Century program focuses on helping facilitators smoothly transition between different stages of the problem-solving process. It also teaches them how to be more efficient and productive in their facilitation by talking less and achieving more results.

Unlike approaches that solely focus on problem-solving, Creative Problem Solving 21st Century acknowledges that users may not always frame their objectives as problems. It recognizes that individuals have goals, wishes, and challenges they want to address or achieve. Creative Problem Solving provides a flexible framework to guide users towards success in realizing their aspirations.

Creative Problem Solving 21st Century builds upon the foundational work of pioneers such as Osborn, Parnes, Miller, and Firestien. It incorporates practical techniques like PPC (Pluses, Potentials, Concerns) and emphasizes the importance of creative leadership skills in driving change.

Stages of the Creative Problem Solving 21st Century

  • Clarify the Problem
  • Generate Ideas
  • Develop Solutions
  • Plan for Action

Steps of the Creative Problem Solving 21st Century

Here are stages and steps of the Creative Problem Solving 21st Century per Roger Firestien:


Start here when you are looking to improve, create, or solve something. You want to explore the facts,  feelings and data around it. You want to find the best problem to solve.

IDENTIFY GOAL, WISH OR CHALLENGE Start with a goal, wish or challenge that begins with the phrase: “I wish…” or “It would be great if…”

Diverge : If you are not quite clear on a goal then create, invent, solve or improve.

Converge : Select the goal, wish or challenge on which you have Ownership, Motivation and a need for Imagination.


Diverge : What is a brief history of your goal, wish or challenge? What have you already thought of or tried? What might be your ideal goal?

Converge : Select the key data that reveals a new insight into the situation or that is important to consider throughout the remainder of the process.

Diverge : Generate many questions about your goal, wish or challenge. Phrase your questions beginning with: “How to…?” “How might…?” “What might be all the ways to…?” Try turning your key data into questions that redefine the goal, wish or challenge.

  • Mark the “HITS” : New insight. Promising direction. Nails it! Feels good in your gut.
  • Group the related “HITS” together.
  • Restate the cluster . “How to…” “What might be all the…”


Start here when you have a clearly defined problem and you need ideas to solve it. The best way to create great ideas is to generate LOTS of ideas. Defer judgment. Strive for quantity. Seek wild & unusual ideas. Build on other ideas.

Diverge : Come up with at least 40 ideas for solving your problem. Come up with 40 more. Keep going. Even as you see good ideas emerge, keep pushing for novelty. Stretch!

  • Mark the “HITS”: Interesting, Intriguing, Useful, Solves the problem. Sparkles at you.
  • Restate the cluster with a verb phrase.


Start here when you want to turn promising ideas into workable solutions.

DEVELOP YOUR SOLUTION Review your clusters of ideas and blend them into a “story.” Imagine in detail what your solution would look like when it is implemented.

Begin your solution story with the phrase, “What I see myself doing is…”


PPCo stands for Pluses, Potentials, Concerns and Overcome concerns

Review your solution story .

  • List the PLUSES or specific strengths of your solution.
  • List the POTENTIALS of your solution. What might be the result if you were to implement your idea?
  • Finally, list your CONCERNS about the solution. Phrase your concerns beginning with “How to…”
  • Diverge and generate ideas to OVERCOME your concerns one at a time until they have all been overcome
  • Converge and select the best ideas to overcome your concerns. Use these ideas to improve your solution.


Start here when you have a solution and need buy-in from others. You want to create a detailed plan of action to follow.

Diverge : List all of the actions you might take to implement your solution.

  • What might you do to make your solution easy to understand?
  • What might you do to demonstrate the advantages of your solution?
  • How might you gain acceptance of your solution?
  • What steps might you take to put your solution into action?

Converge : Select the key actions to implement your solution. Create a plan, detailing who does what by when.

Credits for the Creative Problem Solving 21st Century

Creative Problem Solving – 21st Century is based on the work of: Osborn, A.F..(1953). Applied Imagination: Principles and procedures of Creative Problem Solving. New York: Scribner’s. Parnes, S.J, Noller, R.B & Biondi, A. (1977). Guide to Creative Action. New York: Scribner’s. Miller, B., Firestien, R., Vehar, J. Plain language Creative Problem-Solving Model, 1997. Puccio, G.J., Mance, M., Murdock, M.C. (2010) Creative Leadership: Skills that drive change. (Second Edition), Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA. Miller, B., Vehar J., Firestien, R., Thurber, S. Nielsen, D. (2011) Creativity Unbound: An introduction to creative process. (Fifth Edition), Foursight, LLC., Evanston, IL. PPC (Pluses, Potentials & Concerns) was invented by Diane Foucar-Szocki, Bill Shepard & Roger Firestien in 1982

Where to Go for More on Creative Problem Solving 21st Century

Here are incredible free resources to ramp up on Creative Problem Solving 21st Century:

  • PDF of Creative Problem Solving 21st Edition (RogerFirestien.com)
  • PDF Worksheets for Creative Problem Solving (RogerFirestien.com)
  • Video: Roger Firestien on 40 Years of Creative Problem Solving

Video Walkthroughs

  • Video 1: Introduction to Creative Problem Solving
  • Video 2: Identify your Goal/Wish/Challenge
  • Video 3: Gather Data
  • Video 4: Clarify the Problem: Creative Questions
  • Video 5: Clarify the Problem: Why? What’s Stopping Me?
  • Video 6: Selecting the Best Problem
  • Video 7: How to do a Warm-up
  • Video 8: Generate Ideas: Sticky Notes + Forced Connections
  • Video 9: Generate Ideas: Brainwriting
  • Video 10: Selecting the Best Ideas
  • Video 11: Develop Solutions: PPCO
  • Video 12: Generating Action Steps
  • Video 13: Create Your Action Plan
  • Video 14: CPS: The Whole Process

FourSight Thinking Profiles

The FourSight Thinking Skills Profile is an assessment tool designed to measure an individual’s thinking preferences and skills.

It focuses on four key thinking styles or stages that contribute to the creative problem-solving process.

The assessment helps individuals and teams understand their strengths and areas for development in each of these stages.

Why FourSight Thinking Profiles?

The FourSight method was necessary to address certain limitations or challenges that were identified in the original CPS method.

  • Thinking Preferences : The FourSight model recognizes that individuals have different thinking preferences or cognitive styles. By understanding and leveraging these preferences, the FourSight method aims to optimize idea generation and problem-solving processes within teams and organizations.
  • Overemphasis on Ideation : While ideation is a critical aspect of CPS, the original method sometimes focused too heavily on generating ideas without adequate attention to other stages, such as problem clarification, solution development, and implementation. FourSight offers a more balanced approach across all stages of the CPS process.
  • Enhanced Problem Definition : FourSight places a particular emphasis on the Clarify stage, which involves defining the problem or challenge. This is an important step to ensure that the problem is well-understood and properly framed before proceeding to ideation and solution development.
  • Research-Based Approach : The development of FourSight was influenced by extensive research on thinking styles and creativity. By incorporating these research insights into the CPS process, FourSight provides a more evidence-based and comprehensive approach to creative problem-solving.

Stages of FourSight Creative Problem Solving

FourSight Creative Problem Solving consists of four thinking stages, each associated with a specific thinking preference:

  • Clarify : In this stage, the focus is on gaining a clear understanding of the problem or challenge. Participants define the problem statement, gather relevant information, and identify the key objectives and desired outcomes. This stage involves analytical thinking and careful examination of the problem’s context and scope.
  • Ideate : The ideation stage involves generating a broad range of ideas and potential solutions. Participants engage in divergent thinking, allowing for a free flow of creativity and encouraging the exploration of unconventional possibilities. Various brainstorming techniques and creativity tools can be utilized to stimulate idea generation.
  • Develop : Once a pool of ideas has been generated, the next stage is to develop and refine the selected ideas. Participants shift into a convergent thinking mode, evaluating and analyzing the feasibility, practicality, and potential impact of each idea. The emphasis is on refining and shaping the ideas into viable solutions.
  • Implement : The final stage is focused on implementing the chosen solution. Participants develop an action plan, define specific steps and timelines, assign responsibilities, and identify the necessary resources. This stage requires practical thinking and attention to detail to ensure the successful execution of the solution.

Throughout the FourSight framework, it is recognized that individuals have different thinking preferences. Some individuals naturally excel in the Clarify stage, while others thrive in Ideate, Develop, or Implement.

By understanding these preferences, the FourSight framework encourages collaboration and diversity of thinking styles, ensuring a well-rounded approach to problem-solving and innovation.

The FourSight process can be iterative, allowing for feedback loops and revisiting previous stages as needed. It emphasizes the importance of open communication, respect for different perspectives, and leveraging the collective intelligence of a team to achieve optimal results.

4 Thinking Profiles in FourSight

In the FourSight model, there are four preferences that individuals can exhibit. These preferences reflect where individuals tend to focus their energy and time within the creative problem-solving process.

The four preferences in FourSight are:

  • Clarifier : Individuals with a Clarifier preference excel in the first stage of the creative problem-solving process, which is about gaining clarity and understanding the problem. They are skilled at asking questions, gathering information, and analyzing data to define the problem accurately.
  • Ideator : Individuals with an Ideator preference thrive in the second stage, which involves generating a wide range of ideas. They are imaginative thinkers who excel at brainstorming, thinking outside the box, and generating creative solutions. Ideators are known for their ability to explore multiple perspectives and come up with diverse ideas.
  • Developer : Individuals with a Developer preference excel in the third stage of the process, which focuses on refining and developing ideas. They are skilled at evaluating ideas, analyzing their feasibility, and transforming them into actionable plans or solutions. Developers excel in taking promising ideas and shaping them into practical and effective strategies.
  • Implementer : Individuals with an Implementer preference shine in the final stage of the process, which is about planning for action and executing the chosen solution. Implementers are skilled at organizing tasks, creating action plans, and ensuring successful implementation. They focus on turning ideas into tangible outcomes and are known for their ability to execute projects efficiently.

It’s important to note that while individuals may have a primary preference, everyone is capable of participating in all stages of the creative problem-solving process.

However, the FourSight model suggests that individuals tend to have a natural inclination or preference towards one or more of these stages. Understanding one’s preferences can help individuals leverage their strengths and work effectively in a team by appreciating the diversity of thinking preferences.

Right Hand vs. Left Hand

The FourSight model is a way to understand how people approach the creative process. It measures our preferences for different stages of creativity.

A good analogy for this is writing with your right or left hand. Think about writing with your right or left hand. Most of us have a dominant hand that we use for writing. It’s the hand we’re most comfortable with and it comes naturally to us. But it doesn’t mean we can’t write with our non-dominant hand. We can still do it, but it requires more effort and focus.

Similarly, in the creative process, we have preferred stages or parts that we enjoy and feel comfortable in. These are our peak preferences. However, it doesn’t mean we can’t work on the other stages. We can make a conscious effort to spend time and work on those stages, even if they don’t come as naturally to us.

Combinations of FourSight Profiles

Your FourSight profile is determined by four scores that represent your preferences in the creative process. Your profile reveals where you feel most energized and where you may struggle.

If you have a single peak in your profile, refer back to the description of that preference. If you have two or more peaks, continue reading to understand your tendencies when engaging in any kind of innovation.

Here are how the combinations show up, along with their labels:

2-Way Combinations

  • High Clarifier & High Ideator = “Early Bird
  • High Clarifier & High Developer = “Analyst”
  • High Clarifier & High Implementer = “Accelerator”
  • High Ideator & High Developer = “Theorist”
  • High Ideator & High Implementer = “Driver”
  • High Developer & High Implementer = “Finisher”

3-Way Combinations

  • High Clarifier, Ideator & Developer = “Hare”
  • High Clarifier, Ideator & Implementer = “Idea Broker”
  • High Clarifier, Developer & Implementer = “Realist”
  • High Ideator, Developer & Implementer = “Optimist”

4-Way Combination Nearly Equal for All Four Preferences = “Integrator”

Where to Go for More On FourSight

  • FourSight Home
  • FourSight Thinking Profile Interpretive Guide PDF
  • FourSight Technical Manual PDF

Basadur’s Innovative Process

The Simplex Process, developed by management and creativity expert Min Basadur, gained recognition through his influential book “The Power of Innovation” published in 1995.

It consists of a sequence of eight steps organized into three distinct stages:

  • Problem Formulation
  • Solution Formulation
  • Solution Implementation

You might hear Bsadur’s Innovative Process referred to by a few variations:

  • Simplex Creative Problem Solving
  • Basadur SIMPLEX Problem Solving Process
  • Basadur System of innovation and creative problem solving
  • Simplexity Thinking Process

What is Basadur’s Innovative Process

Here is how Basadur.com explains Basadur’s Innovation Process :

“The Basadur Innovation Process is an innovative thinking & creative problem solving process that separates innovation into clearly-defined steps, to take you from initial problem-finding right through to implementing the solutions you’ve created.

Its beauty is that it enables everyone to participate in an unbiased, open-minded way.

In the absence of negativity, people can think clearly and logically, building innovation confidence. A wide range of ideas can be proposed and the best ones selected, refined and executed in a spirit of openness and collaboration.

“That’s a great idea, but…”

How often have you heard this phrase? In most group decision-making processes, ideas are killed off before they’ve even got off the ground. With The Basadur Process on the other hand, judgment is deferred. Put simply, opinions on ideas don’t get in the way of ideas.”

3 Phases and 8 Steps of Basadur’s Innovative Process

The Basadur’s Innovative Process consists of three phases, subdivided into eight steps:

Phase 1: Problem Formulation

Problem Formulation : This phase focuses on understanding and defining the problem accurately. It involves the following steps:

  • Step 1 : Problem Finding . Actively anticipate and seek out problems, opportunities, and possibilities. Maintain an open mind and view problems as opportunities for proactive resolution. Identify fuzzy situations and recognize that they can open new doors.
  • Step 2 : Fact Finding . Gather relevant information and facts related to the fuzzy situation. Seek multiple viewpoints, challenge assumptions, listen to others, and focus on finding the truth rather than personal opinions. Utilize different lines of questioning to clarify the situation.
  • Step 3 : Problem Definition . Define the problem accurately and objectively. View the problem from different angles and consider new perspectives. Uncover fresh challenges and recognize that the perceived problem might not be the real issue.

Phase 2: Solution Formulation

Solution Formulation . Once the problem is well-defined, this phase revolves around generating and evaluating potential solutions.  The steps involved are:

  • Step 4 : Idea Finding . Generate ideas to solve the defined problem. Continuously seek more and better ideas, build upon half-formed ideas, and consider ideas from others. Fine-tune seemingly radical or impossible ideas to make them workable solutions.
  • Step 5 : Evaluate & Select . Evaluate and select the most promising ideas to convert them into practical solutions. Consider multiple criteria in an unbiased manner, creatively improve imperfect solutions, and re-evaluate them.

Phase 3: Solution Implementation

Solution Implementation . In the final phase, the focus shifts to implementing and executing the selected solution effectively. The steps in this phase include:

  • Step 6 : Plan Devise specific measures and create a concrete plan for implementing the chosen solution. Visualize the end result and motivate others to participate and support the plan.
  • Step 7 : Acceptance Gain acceptance for the solutions and plans. Communicate the benefits of the solution to others, address potential concerns, and continuously revise and improve the solution to minimize resistance to change.
  • Step 8 : Action Implement the solutions and put the plan into action. Avoid getting stuck in unimportant details, adapt the solutions to specific circumstances, and garner support for the change. Emphasize the need for follow-up to ensure lasting and permanent changes.

The SIMPLEX process recognizes that implementing a solution can reveal new problems, opportunities, and possibilities, leading back to Step 1 and initiating the iterative problem-solving and innovation cycle again.

Where to Go for More on Basadur’s Innovation Process

  • Basadur’s Innovative Process Home
  • Simplexity Thinking Explained
  • Ambasadur Affiliate Program

Synectics is a problem-solving and creative thinking approach that emphasizes the power of collaboration, analogy, and metaphorical thinking. It was developed in the 1960s by George M. Prince and William J.J. Gordon.

Synectics is based on the belief that the most innovative ideas and solutions arise from the integration of diverse perspectives and the ability to make connections between seemingly unrelated concepts.

The Story of Synetics

Here is the story of Syentics according to SyneticsWorld.com:

“Back in the 1950s, our founders Bill Gordon, George Prince and their team studied thousands of hours of tape recorded innovation sessions to find the answer to

‘What is really going on between the people in the group to help them create and implement successfully?’

They called the answer the Synectics Creative-Problem-Solving Methodology, which has expanded into the Synecticsworld’s expertise on how people work creatively and collaboratively to create innovative solutions to some of the world’s most difficult challenges.

The unique Synecticsworld innovation process to the art of problem solving has taken us to many different destinations. We have worked on assignments in both the public and private sectors, in product and service innovation, business process improvement, cost reduction and the reinvention of business models and strategies.

It is our on-going goal to guide and inspire our clients to engage the Synectics innovation process to create innovative ideas, innovative solutions, and activate new, powerful, and innovative solutions.”

Why Synetics?

Synectics addresses challenges of the original Creative Problem Solving process by introducing a unique set of tools and techniques that foster creative thinking and overcome mental barriers.

Here’s how Synectics addresses some common challenges of the original Creative Problem Solving process:

  • Breaking Mental Barriers : Synectics recognizes that individuals often have mental blocks and preconceived notions that limit their thinking. It tackles this challenge by encouraging the use of analogies, metaphors, and connections to break through these barriers. By exploring unrelated concepts and drawing parallels, participants can generate fresh perspectives and innovative solutions.
  • Promoting Divergent Thinking : The original CPS process may sometimes struggle to foster a truly divergent thinking environment where participants feel comfortable expressing unconventional ideas. Synectics creates a safe and non-judgmental space for participants to freely explore and share their thoughts, regardless of how unusual or unconventional they may seem. This encourages a wider range of ideas and increases the potential for breakthrough solutions.
  • Enhancing Collaboration : Synectics emphasizes the power of collaboration and the integration of diverse perspectives. It recognizes that innovation often emerges through the interaction of different viewpoints and experiences. By actively engaging participants in collaborative brainstorming sessions and encouraging them to build upon each other’s ideas, Synectics enhances teamwork and collective problem-solving.
  • Stimulating Creative Connections : While the original CPS process focuses on logical problem-solving techniques, Synectics introduces the use of analogy and metaphorical thinking. By encouraging participants to find connections between seemingly unrelated concepts, Synectics stimulates creative thinking and opens up new possibilities. This approach helps overcome fixed thinking patterns and encourages participants to explore alternative perspectives and solutions.
  • Encouraging Unconventional Solutions : Synectics acknowledges that unconventional ideas can lead to breakthrough solutions. It provides a framework that supports the exploration of unorthodox approaches and encourages participants to think beyond traditional boundaries. By challenging the status quo and embracing innovative thinking, Synectics enables the generation of unique and impactful solutions.

Synectics complements and expands upon the original CPS process by offering additional tools and techniques that specifically address challenges related to mental barriers, divergent thinking, collaboration, creative connections, and unconventional solutions.

It provides a structured approach to enhance creativity and problem-solving in a collaborative setting.

Synetic Sessions

In the Synectics process, individuals or teams engage in structured brainstorming sessions, often referred to as “synectic sessions.”

These sessions encourage participants to think beyond conventional boundaries and explore novel ways of approaching a problem or challenge.

The approach involves creating an open and non-judgmental environment where participants feel free to express their ideas and build upon each other’s contributions.

Synectics incorporates the use of analogies and metaphors to stimulate creative thinking. Participants are encouraged to make connections between unrelated concepts, draw parallels from different domains, and explore alternative perspectives.

This approach helps to break mental barriers, unlock new insights, and generate innovative ideas.

Steps of the Synetics Process

The Synectics process typically involves the following steps:

  • Problem Identification : Clearly defining the problem or challenge that needs to be addressed.
  • Idea Generation: Engaging in brainstorming sessions to generate a wide range of ideas, including both conventional and unconventional ones.
  • Analogy and Metaphor Exploration : Encouraging participants to explore analogies, metaphors, and connections to stimulate new ways of thinking about the problem.
  • Idea Development: Refining and developing the most promising ideas generated during the brainstorming process.
  • Solution Evaluation : Assessing and evaluating the potential feasibility, effectiveness, and practicality of the developed ideas.
  • Implementation Planning : Creating a detailed action plan to implement the chosen solution or ideas.

Synectics has been used in various fields, including business, design, education, and innovation. It is particularly effective when addressing complex problems that require a fresh perspective and the integration of diverse viewpoints.

Example of How Synetics Explores Analogies and Metaphors

Here’s an example of how Synectics utilizes analogy and metaphor exploration to stimulate new ways of thinking about a problem:

Let’s say a team is tasked with improving customer service in a retail store. During a Synectics session, participants may be encouraged to explore analogies and metaphors related to customer service. For example:

  • Analogy : The participants might be asked to think of customer service in terms of a restaurant experience. They can draw parallels between the interactions between waitstaff and customers in a restaurant and the interactions between retail associates and shoppers. By exploring this analogy, participants may uncover insights and ideas for enhancing the customer experience in the retail store, such as personalized attention, prompt service, or creating a welcoming ambiance.
  • Metaphor : Participants could be prompted to imagine customer service as a journey or a road trip. They can explore how different stages of the journey, such as initial contact, assistance during the shopping process, and follow-up after purchase, can be improved to create a seamless and satisfying experience. This metaphorical exploration may lead to ideas like providing clear signage, offering assistance at every step, or implementing effective post-purchase support.

Through analogy and metaphor exploration, Synectics encourages participants to think beyond the immediate context and draw inspiration from different domains .

By connecting disparate ideas and concepts , new perspectives and innovative solutions can emerge.

These analogies and metaphors serve as creative triggers that unlock fresh insights and generate ideas that may not have been considered within the confines of the original problem statement.

SCAMPER is a creative thinking technique that provides a set of prompts or questions to stimulate idea generation and innovation. It was developed by Bob Eberle and is widely used in problem-solving, product development, and brainstorming sessions.

SCAMPER provides a structured framework for creatively examining and challenging existing ideas, products, or processes.

Recognizing the value of Alex Osterman’s original checklist, Bob Eberle skillfully organized it into meaningful and repeatable categories. This thoughtful refinement by Eberle has made SCAMPER a practical and highly effective tool for expanding possibilities, breaking through creative blocks, and sparking new insights.

By systematically applying each prompt, individuals or teams can generate a wide range of possibilities and discover innovative solutions to problems or opportunities.

What Does SCAMPER Stand For?

Each letter in the word “SCAMPER” represents a different prompt to encourage creative thinking and exploration of ideas.

Here’s what each letter stands for:

  • S – Substitute : Consider substituting a component, material, process, or element with something different to generate new ideas.
  • C – Combine : Explore possibilities by combining or merging different elements, ideas, or features to create something unique.
  • A – Adapt : Identify ways to adapt or modify existing ideas, products, or processes to fit new contexts or purposes.
  • M – Modify : Examine how you can modify or change various attributes, characteristics, or aspects of an idea or solution to enhance its functionality or performance.
  • P – Put to another use : Explore alternative uses or applications for an existing idea, object, or resource to uncover new possibilities.
  • E – Eliminate : Consider what elements, features, or processes can be eliminated or removed to simplify or streamline an idea or solution.
  • R – Reverse or Rearrange : Think about reversing or rearranging the order, sequence, or arrangement of components or processes to generate fresh perspectives and uncover innovative solutions.

Example of SCAMPER

Let’s take a simple and relatable challenge of improving the process of making breakfast sandwiches. We can use SCAMPER to generate ideas for enhancing this routine:

  • S – Substitute : What can we substitute in the breakfast sandwich-making process? For example, we could substitute the traditional bread with a croissant or a tortilla wrap to add variety.
  • C – Combine : How can we combine different ingredients or flavors to create unique breakfast sandwiches? We could combine eggs, bacon, and avocado to create a delicious and satisfying combination.
  • A – Adapt: How can we adapt the breakfast sandwich-making process to fit different dietary preferences? We could offer options for gluten-free bread or create a vegan breakfast sandwich using plant-based ingredients.
  • M – Modify : How can we modify the cooking method or preparation techniques for the breakfast sandwich? We could experiment with different cooking techniques like grilling or toasting the bread to add a crispy texture.
  • P – Put to another use : How can we repurpose breakfast sandwich ingredients for other meals or snacks? We could use the same ingredients to create a breakfast burrito or use the bread to make croutons for a salad.
  • E – Eliminate : What unnecessary steps or ingredients can we eliminate to simplify the breakfast sandwich-making process? We could eliminate the need for butter by using a non-stick pan or omit certain condiments to streamline the assembly process.
  • R – Reverse or Rearrange : How can we reverse or rearrange the order of ingredients for a unique twist? We could reverse the order of ingredients by placing the cheese on the outside of the sandwich to create a crispy cheese crust.

These are just a few examples of how SCAMPER prompts can spark ideas for improving the breakfast sandwich-making process.

The key is to think creatively and explore possibilities within each prompt to generate innovative solutions to the challenge at hand.

Design Thinking

Design thinking provides a structured framework for creative problem-solving, with an emphasis on human needs and aspirations .

It’s an iterative process that allows for continuous learning , adaptation , and improvement based on user feedback and insights.

Here are some key ways to think about Design Thinking:

  • Design thinking is an iterative and human-centered approach to problem-solving and innovation. It’s a methodology that draws inspiration from the design process to address complex challenges and create innovative solutions.
  • Design thinking places a strong emphasis on understanding the needs and perspectives of the end-users or customers throughout the problem-solving journey.
  • Design thinking is a collaborative and interdisciplinary process . It encourages diverse perspectives and cross-functional collaboration to foster innovation. It can be applied to a wide range of challenges, from product design and service delivery to organizational processes and social issues.

What is the Origin of Design Thinking

The origin of Design Thinking can be traced back to the work of various scholars and practitioners over several decades.

While it has evolved and been influenced by multiple sources, the following key influences are often associated with the development of Design Thinking:

  • Herbert A. Simon : In the 1960s, Nobel laureate Herbert A. Simon emphasized the importance of “satisficing” in decision-making and problem-solving. His work focused on the iterative nature of problem-solving and the need for designers to explore various alternatives before arriving at the optimal solution.
  • Horst Rittel and Melvin Webber : In the 1970s, Rittel and Webber introduced the concept of “wicked problems,” which are complex and ill-defined challenges that do not have clear solutions. They highlighted the need for a collaborative and iterative approach to tackling these wicked problems, which aligns with the principles of Design Thinking.
  • David Kelley and IDEO : Design firm IDEO, co-founded by David Kelley, played a significant role in popularizing Design Thinking. IDEO embraced an interdisciplinary and human-centered approach to design, focusing on empathy, rapid prototyping, and iteration. IDEO’s successful design projects and methodologies have influenced the development and adoption of Design Thinking across various industries.
  • Stanford University : Stanford University’s d.school (Hasso Plattner Institute of Design) has been instrumental in advancing Design Thinking. The d.school has developed educational programs and frameworks that emphasize hands-on experiential learning, collaboration, and empathy in problem-solving. It has played a significant role in spreading the principles of Design Thinking globally.

While these influences have contributed to the emergence and development of Design Thinking, it’s important to note that Design Thinking is an evolving and multidisciplinary approach.

It continues to be shaped by practitioners, scholars, and organizations who contribute new ideas and insights to its principles and methodologies.

Key Principles of Design Thinking

Here are key principles of Design Thinking:

  • Empathy : Design thinking begins with developing a deep understanding of the needs, emotions, and experiences of the people for whom you are designing solutions. Empathy involves active listening, observation, and engaging with users to gain insights and uncover unmet needs.
  • Define the Problem : In this phase, the problem is defined and reframed based on the insights gained through empathy. The focus is on creating a clear problem statement that addresses the users’ needs and aspirations.
  • Ideation : The ideation phase involves generating a wide range of ideas without judgment or criticism. It encourages divergent thinking, creativity, and the exploration of various possibilities to solve the defined problem.
  • Prototyping : In this phase, ideas are translated into tangible prototypes or representations that can be tested and evaluated. Prototypes can be physical objects, mock-ups, or even digital simulations. The goal is to quickly and cost-effectively bring ideas to life for feedback and iteration.
  • Testing and Iteration : Prototypes are tested with end-users to gather feedback, insights, and validation. The feedback received is used to refine and iterate the design, making improvements based on real-world observations and user input.
  • Implementation : Once the design has been refined and validated through testing, it is implemented and brought to life. This phase involves planning for execution, scaling up, and integrating the solution into the intended context.

Where to Go for More on Design Thinking

There are numerous resources available to learn more about design thinking. Here are three highly regarded resources that can provide a solid foundation and deeper understanding of the subject:

  • “Design Thinking: Understanding How Designers Think and Work” (Book) – Nigel Cross: This book offers a comprehensive overview of design thinking, exploring its history, principles, and methodologies. Nigel Cross, a renowned design researcher, delves into the mindset and processes of designers, providing insights into their approaches to problem-solving and creativity.
  • IDEO U : IDEO U is an online learning platform created by IDEO, a leading design and innovation firm. IDEO U offers a range of courses and resources focused on design thinking and innovation. Their courses provide practical guidance, case studies, and interactive exercises to deepen your understanding and application of design thinking principles.
  • Stanford d.school Virtual Crash Course : The Stanford d.school offers a free Virtual Crash Course in design thinking. This online resource provides an introduction to the principles and process of design thinking through a series of videos and activities. It covers topics such as empathy, ideation, prototyping, and testing. The Virtual Crash Course is a great starting point for beginners and offers hands-on learning experiences.

These resources offer diverse perspectives and practical insights into design thinking, equipping learners with the knowledge and tools to apply design thinking principles to their own projects and challenges.

Additionally, exploring case studies and real-life examples of design thinking applications in various industries can further enhance your understanding of its effectiveness and potential impact.

Dr. John Martin on “Psychological” vs. “Procedural” Approach

Dr. John Martin of the Open University in the UK offers an insightful perspective on how various Creative Problem Solving and Brainstorming techniques differ.

In his notes for the Creative Management module of their MBA Course in 1997, he states:

“In practice, different schools of creativity training borrow from one another. The more elaborate forms of creative problem-solving, such as the Buffalo CPS method (basically brainstorming), incorporate quite a number of features found in Synectics.

However there is still a discernible split between the ‘psychological’ approaches such as Synectics that emphasize metaphor, imagery, emotion, energy etc. and ‘procedural’ approaches that concentrate on private listings, round robins etc.. Of course practitioners can combine these techniques, but there is often a discernible bias towards one or other end of the spectrum”

Brainstorming was the original Creative Problem-solving Technique, developed in the 1930s by Alex Osborn (the O of the advertising agency BBDO) and further developed by Professor Sidney Parnes of the Buffalo Institute.

The Osborn-Parnes model is the most widely practised form of brainstorming, though the word has become a generic term for any attempt to generate new ideas in an environment of suspending judgement. It may include elements of other techniques, such as de Bono’s Lateral Thinking.”

Creative Problem Solving vs. Brainstorming vs. Lateral Thinking

Creative Problem Solving, brainstorming, and lateral thinking are distinct approaches to generating ideas and solving problems. Here’s a summary of their differences:

Creative Problem Solving:

  • Involves a systematic approach to problem-solving, typically following stages such as problem identification, idea generation, solution development, and implementation planning.
  • Focuses on understanding the problem deeply, analyzing data, and generating a wide range of potential solutions.
  • Encourages both convergent thinking (evaluating and selecting the best ideas) and divergent thinking (generating multiple ideas).
  • Incorporates structured techniques and frameworks to guide the problem-solving process, such as the Osborn-Parnes model.


  • A specific technique within Creative Problem Solving, developed by Alex Osborn, which aims to generate a large quantity of ideas in a short amount of time.
  • Involves a group of individuals openly sharing ideas without judgment or criticism.
  • Emphasizes quantity over quality, encouraging participants to build upon each other’s ideas and think creatively.
  • Typically involves following guidelines, such as deferring judgment, encouraging wild ideas, and combining and improving upon suggestions.

Lateral Thinking (Edward de Bono’s Lateral Thinking):

  • Introduced by Edward de Bono, lateral thinking is a deliberate and structured approach to thinking differently and generating innovative ideas.
  • Involves deliberately challenging traditional thinking patterns and assumptions to arrive at unconventional solutions.
  • Encourages the use of techniques like random stimulation, provocative statements, and deliberate provocation to shift perspectives and break fixed thought patterns.
  • Focuses on generating out-of-the-box ideas that may not arise through traditional problem-solving methods.

While there can be overlaps and combinations of these approaches in practice, each approach has its distinct emphasis and techniques.

Creative Problem Solving provides a structured framework for problem-solving, brainstorming emphasizes idea generation within a group setting, and lateral thinking promotes thinking outside the box to arrive at unconventional solutions.

Creative Problem Solving Empowers You to Change Your World

The Creative Problem Solving process is a valuable framework that enables individuals and teams to approach complex problems with a structured and creative mindset.

By following the stages of clarifying the problem, generating ideas, developing solutions, implementing the chosen solution, and evaluating the outcomes, the process guides participants through a systematic and iterative journey of problem-solving.

Throughout this deep dive, we’ve explored the essence of Creative Problem Solving, its key stages, and variations. We’ve seen how different methodologies, such as Osborn-Parnes Creative Problem Solving, FourSight Thinking Profiles, Basadur’s Innovative Process, Synectics, SCAMPER, and Design Thinking, offer unique perspectives and techniques to enhance the creative problem-solving experience.

By embracing these frameworks and techniques, individuals and teams can tap into their creative potential , break free from conventional thinking patterns, and unlock innovative solutions.

Creative Problem Solving empowers us to approach challenges with curiosity, open-mindedness, and a collaborative spirit , fostering a culture of innovation and continuous improvement.

Remember, creative problem solving is a skill that can be developed and honed over time. By adopting a flexible and adaptable mindset , embracing diverse perspectives, and applying various creativity tools, we can navigate the complexities of problem-solving and uncover solutions that drive positive change.

Let’s enjoy our creative problem-solving journey by embracing the unknown and transforming challenges into opportunities for growth and innovation.

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Creative Problem-Solving

  • First Online: 29 January 2023

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  • Terence Lee 4 ,
  • Lauren O’Mahony 5 &
  • Pia Lebeck 6  

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This chapter presents Alex Osborn’s 1953 creative problem-solving (CPS) model as a three-procedure approach that can be deployed to problems that emerge in our everyday lives. The three procedures are fact-finding, idea-finding and solution-finding, with each step carefully informed by both divergent and convergent thinking. Using case studies to elaborate on the efficacy of CPS, the chapter also identifies a few common flaws that can impact on creativity and innovation. This chapter explores the challenges posed by ‘wicked problems’ that are particularly challenging in that they are ill-defined, unique, contradictory, multi-causal and recurring; it considers the practical importance of building team environments, of embracing diversity and difference, and other characteristics of effective teams. The chapter builds conceptually and practically on the earlier chapters, especially Chapter 4 , and provides case studies to help make sense of the key principles of creative problem-solving.

  • Creative problem-solving
  • Fact-finding
  • Idea-finding
  • Solution-finding
  • Divergent thinking
  • Convergent thinking
  • Wicked problems

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The creative problem-solving process explored in this chapter is not to be confused with the broader ‘creative process’ that is presented in Chapter 2 of this book. See Chapter 2 to understand what creative process entails.

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Humanities and Social Sciences, Sheridan Institute of Higher Education, Perth, WA, Australia

Terence Lee

Media and Communication, Murdoch University, Perth, WA, Australia

Lauren O’Mahony

Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, Murdoch University, Perth, WA, Australia

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Lee, T., O’Mahony, L., Lebeck, P. (2023). Creative Problem-Solving. In: Creativity and Innovation. Palgrave Macmillan, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-19-8880-6_5

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Project Bliss

The osborn parnes creative problem-solving process.

creative problem solving model

The Osborn Parnes creative problem-solving process is a structured way to generate creative and innovative ways to address problems.

If you want to grow in your career, you need to show you can provide value. This is true no matter where you sit in an organization.

You likely do this in your day-to-day activities.

But if you want to stand out, or do better than the minimum required for your job, you need to find ways to be more valuable to your company.

Problem-solving skills are a great way to do this.

And there are many problem-solving approaches you can use.

By bringing creativity into the approach, you can get an even better variety of potential solutions and ideas.

Benefits of Using Creative Problem Solving  

Osborn Parnes Creative Problem Solving Process - Photo by Shukhrat Umarov from Pexels

Using a creative problem-solving approach has multiple benefits:

  • It provides a structured approach to problem-solving.
  • It results in more possible solution options using both divergent and convergent approaches.
  • You create innovative approaches to change.
  • It’s a collaborative approach that allows multiple participants.
  • By engaging multiple participants in finding solutions, you create a positive environment and buy-in from participants.
  • This approach can be learned.
  • You can use these skills in various areas of life.

Origin of the Osborn Parnes Creative Problem-solving Process

Osborn Parnes Creative Problem Solving Process ProjectBliss

Alex Osborne and Sidney Parnes both focused much of their work on creativity. Osborn is credited with creating brainstorming techniques in the 1940s. He founded the Creative Education Foundation, which Parnes led.

The two collaborated to formalize the process., which is still taught today.  

“Creativity can solve almost any problem. The creative act, the defeat of habit by originality, overcomes everything.” – George Lois

What is the Osborn Parnes Creative Problem-solving Process

The Osborn Parnes model is a structured approach to help individuals and groups apply creativity to problem-solving. 

There are 6 steps to the Osborn Parnes Creative Problem-Solving Process.

1.    Mess-Finding / Objective Finding

During the Objective-Finding phase, you determine what the goal of your problem-solving process will be.

What’s the intent of carrying out your problem-solving process? Get clear on why you’re doing it. This helps ensure you focus your efforts in the right area.

Knowing your goals and objectives will help you focus your efforts where they have the most value.  

2.    Fact-Finding

The Fact-F inding phase ensures you gather enough data to fully understand the problem.

Once you’ve identified the area you want to focus on, gather as much information as you can. This helps you get a full picture of the situation.

Collect data, gather information, make observations, and employ other methods of learning more about the situation.

You may wish to identify success criteria for the situation at this step, also.

3.    Problem-Finding

The Problem Finding phase allows you to dig deeper into the problem and find the root or real problem you want to focus on. Reframe the problem in order to generate creative and valuable solutions.

Look at the problem and information you’ve gathered in order to better clarify the problem you’ll be solving.

Make sure you’re focusing on the right problem before moving forward to develop a solution.

Personal example: you may think you want to get a second job so you can have more money to take your family on vacations. Upon deeper exploration, you realize your real desire and goal is to find ways to spend more time with your family . That’s the real problem you wish to solve.

Work example: your team has too much work to do and doesn’t have the time to create new software features that customers want. By digging in and reframing the problem you realize the team is more focused on handling support calls. You need to find a solution to handling the support calls, which would free up time for the team to focus on new development. You dig even deeper and learn the support calls are primarily focused on one problem that could be fixed to solve the problem.

“If you define the problem correctly, you almost have the solution.” – Steve Jobs

4.    Idea-Finding

The Idea-F inding phase allows your team to generate many options for addressing the problem.

Come up with many different potential ideas to address the problem.

Don’t judge the suggestions. Instead, welcome even crazy ideas. Unexpected or odd ideas may help others generate great ideas.

Use brainstorming techniques, affinity mapping and grouping, and other tools to organize the input.

Use “yes, and…” statements rather than “No, but…” statements to keep ideas flowing and avoid discouraging participants from contributing.

5.    Solution-Finding

The Solution Finding phase allows you to choose the best options from the ideas generated in the Idea Finding phase. 

Set selection criteria for evaluating the best choices in order to select the best option. You can weight your criteria if needed to place more emphasis on criteria that may be more important than others. 

Create a prioritization matix with your criteria to help you choose what to focus on.

6.    Action-Finding

In the Action-Finding phase, develop a plan of action to implement the solution you’ve settled on as the best choice. 

Depending on how complex the solution is, you may need to create a more complex plan of action. Your work breakdown structure of activities may be complex or simple.

When creating your action plan, identify who’s responsible for each of the activities, dependencies, and due dates.

If your chosen solution will impact many people or teams, you may need to do an impact analysis, create a communication plan , and get buy-in or participation from more groups. If your solution is simple, you will most likely have a much simpler plan. 

“Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way.” – Edward de Bono

Creative Problem-Solving Categories

Osborn Parnes Creative Problem Solving Process ProjectBliss.net

Osborn and Parnes started working on creative problem-solving approaches in the 1950s. Since then, the process has evolved, but the focus on using creativity still remains important.

More recent modifications group the activities into four categories: 

Each of these categories contain the steps listed above to carry out the problem-solving process.

creative problem solving model

As you can see, the steps are still there, but the grouping helps provide a bit more structure to the way teams can think about it.

Divergent and Convergent Thinking

creative problem solving model

The creative problem-solving process uses two thinking styles: divergent thinking and convergent thinking. 

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, the just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while” – Steve Jobs

Divergent Thinking

Divergent  thinking is the creative process of generating multiple possible solutions and ideas. It’s usually done in a spontaneous approach where participants share multiple ideas, such as in a brainstorming session.

This approach allows more “out of the box” thinking for creative ideas. 

Once ideas are generated via creative, free-flowing divergent approach, you then move onto convergent thinking. 

Use questions to stimulate creative thinking.

When conducting divergent thinking sessions, don’t criticize suggestions. Instead, welcome ideas. Build on ideas that have been presented and even improve them if possible. 

Instead of saying “No, but…” welcome ideas with responses such as “Yes, and…”

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein

Convergent Thinking

creative problem solving model

Convergent thinking is the process of evaluating the ideas, analyzing them, and selecting the best solution.

It’s the process of taking all the information gathered in divergent thinking, analyzing it, and finding the single best solution to the problem. 

Determine screening criteria for evaluating ideas. Spend time evaluating the options, and even improve suggestions if possible or needed. 

If an idea seems too crazy, don’t immediately dismiss it. A friend told me once he thought the Bird or Lime scooter business models would never work. If it had been pitched to him, his response would have been “People won’t use them. They’ll destroy them. People won’t be allowed to use them without helmets and won’t be permitted to leave them on the sidewalk.” But it’s turned out in many cities to be a great mode of short-distance transportation. 

Someone taking a strictly convergent approach to problem-solving might skip a creative brainstorming session and instead try to think of a straightforward answer to the problem. 

However, it’s useful to employ both approaches to come up with more options and creative solutions to problems. 

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” – Maya Angelou

Running Your Problem-Solving Sessions

creative problem solving model

When using these techniques, use your great facilitation and leadership skills to keep the group focused and moving forward.

For the best meetings possible, follow the guidance in my book Bad Meetings Happen to Good People: How to Run Meetings That Are Effective, Focused, and Produce Results .

Problem-solving skills and tools are useful both at work and other areas of life.

It’s liberating to know you don’t have to have all the answers to make improvements.

Instead, knowing how to lead and collaborate with others to find solutions will help you stand out as a strong leader and valuable team member to your employer.

Don’t shy away from leading an improvement effort when faced with challenges. Doing so will give you greater confidence to search for solutions in other situations.

And you’ll be known as someone who can tackle challenges and make improvements in the organization. Creating this reputation will be great for your career.

“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try” – Dr. Seuss

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common cognitive biases

Leigh Espy is a project manager and coach with experience working in startups, government, and the corporate world. She works with project managers who want to improve their skills and grow in their career, and entrepreneurs and small businesses to help them get more done. She also remembers her early career days and loves working with new project managers and those who want to make a career move into project management.

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I’m glad ‘problem finding’ is the basis for this. However, I think this is still reductive and presumes a ‘problem’ to be ‘solved’. I see ‘problem solving’ as a long way down the path in creativity. Creativity starts with an objective, a challenge, an opportunity. Not a ‘problem’. A problem gets an answer. A challenge gets possibilities.

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am a university student from kenya and my lecturer gave us a question on how to use osbons model to systemtically analyze how to find solutions about corruption in our country and i think the info i got here will help me tackle that question alot

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Great reading – it helped me with my Creativity Tools homework

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Creative Problem-Solving Model

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The Creative Problem-Solving Model

The Creative Problem-Solving Model is a scientifically proven method to enhance creative thinking and use it to approach and solve complex challenges. 

First developed by Dr. Alex F. Osborn in the 1940s, the Creative Problem-Solving Model was further elaborated with his colleague, Dr. Sidney J. Parnes, in the ‘50s and ‘60s. The Osborn-Parnes CPS Model is the precursor of many creative problem-solving methods that are still in use in the business world today, including Design Thinking. 

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21st Century learners need 21st Century teachers, curriculum, and instruction. Our work is contemporary - but we also build on more than five decades of research, development, and field experience worldwide.

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As an individual, a parent, an educator, or a community leader, one of the most exciting challenges for anyone is to become aware of personal strengths and talents— their own or in others.

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Problem Solving Styles

Unique personal and team strengths.

Problem-solving styles are consistent individual differences in the ways people prefer to deal with new ideas, manage change, and respond effectively to complex, open-ended opportunities and challenges.

Discover more of our educational resources for teachers now!

Creative problem solving.

Tomorrow’s thinking skills can be taught today! Our Creative Problem Solving (CPS) model will help you prepare creative and critical thinkers.  CPS enables individuals and groups to manage change and deal successfully with complex, open-ended challenges. CPS deals with 21st Century skills while building on more than five decades of theory, research, and our worldwide experience. CPS tools will also help educators deal more effectively with state and national curriculum standards in any subject area and grade level.

Learn More about CPS .


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Every person has unique personal style preferences for dealing with change and solving complex, open-ended problems. VIEW: An Assessment of Problem Solving Style is a practical approach to understanding and assessing styles among adolescents and adults. It has been developed through years of research and application worldwide. VIEW can help individuals, teams, groups, and entire organizations to work, collaborate, and lead more effectively.

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creative problem solving

How You Can Use Creative Problem Solving at Work

Lucid Content

Reading time: about 4 min

How many times have you tried to solve a problem only to get stuck in the process? In a business setting, this is a common occurrence. You’re faced with issues that traditional problem solving methods can’t solve. But you still need to find a way to fix the issue to move a project forward or resolve a conflict. This is when you may need to get creative to solve the problem at hand.

What is creative problem solving?

The definition of creative problem solving (CPS) will vary between organizations. At its core, CPS involves approaching a problem in an imaginative, innovative, and unconventional way. The process encourages you to find new, creative ways of thinking that can help you overcome the issue at hand more quickly.

7 steps of the creative problem solving process

The CPS process can be broken down into seven steps.

creative problem solving process overview

1. Identify the goal

Before solving the problem, you need to fully understand the problem you’re trying to solve. You may have overlooked or misunderstood some details. Take some time to analyze the conflict and clear up any confusion.

2. Gather data

Once you know what the problem is, you need to learn all you can about it. Who does the problem affect? Who is involved in solving the issue? Gather all the knowledge you can to gain a better understanding of the issue and to solve it.

3. Formulate challenge questions

After you’ve gathered the details, turn the problem into a question. Word the question in a way that encourages suggestions or ideas. It should be short, concise, and only focus on a single issue. Once you’ve created one or two questions, start trying to answer them.

4. Explore ideas

This step is where the brainstorming begins. You’ll be creating possible ideas or solutions to the problem you’re facing. This is usually when the creativity really starts to flow. With so many ideas flowing, it’s crucial that you write each of them down—even the stupid ones. Even if the idea you come up with has little to no chance of working, write it down. Trying to sort out bad ideas from the good ones during this step can squash creativity.

5. Come up with solutions.  

Weed out the average ideas from the winners by testing each one. See if the possible solution actually solves the problem and if you can implement it successfully. If the potential solution doesn’t resolve the issue, move on to the next idea. Evaluating each idea will help you zero in on the perfect solution.

6. Create an action plan 

Now that you have the perfect solution, you’ll need to create an action plan outlining implementation steps. Consider what resources you’ll need and how long it will take. Then write it all down. Once you create the plan, communicate the approach to the rest of the team so they’re aware of what’s happening.

To help you create an organized and detailed plan, you can use swimlanes in Lucidchart.

7. Take action

With your plan created and your team on board, it’s time to implement your solution and resolve the problem.

CPS techniques

Just knowing the process behind CPS isn’t enough. You’ll want to know about the common creative problem solving ideas or techniques that you can use to be more successful during each phase. Below are a few of the techniques you can use to help you through the CPS process:

Synectics:  This technique helps to inspire thoughts that you might not be aware of. It is a way to approach creativity in a logical, rational manner.

TRIZ methodology (Theory of Inventive Problem Solving):  This problem solving methodology is based on logic, data, and research—not intuition. It involves adapting existing solutions to your particular problem.

Brainstorming:  Using this technique allows you to collect a number of ideas that can be a potential solution to a problem and can be used in either a group or individual setting.

Mind mapping:  Mind mapping helps keeps your ideas organized by representing them in a graphical manner.

mind map

Reversal of problem:  Trying to solve a problem using traditional problem solving methods can sometimes end in roadblocks.This technique forces you to think about a problem from a new perspective.

Looking beyond something’s function:  Thinking about how you can use something beyond its typical function is a common CPS technique.

SCAMPER:  This acronym can help you come up with new ideas. Each letter stands for a way you can manipulate an original idea to come up with something new:

  • S ubstitute
  • P ut to other uses

Why use CPS

No matter what profession you’re in, you will face challenges. There will be times when traditional problem solving techniques just don’t do the trick. That’s when you can take advantage of CPS to help uncover the best solution to your problem.

Lucidchart, a cloud-based intelligent diagramming application, is a core component of Lucid Software's Visual Collaboration Suite. This intuitive, cloud-based solution empowers teams to collaborate in real-time to build flowcharts, mockups, UML diagrams, customer journey maps, and more. Lucidchart propels teams forward to build the future faster. Lucid is proud to serve top businesses around the world, including customers such as Google, GE, and NBC Universal, and 99% of the Fortune 500. Lucid partners with industry leaders, including Google, Atlassian, and Microsoft. Since its founding, Lucid has received numerous awards for its products, business, and workplace culture. For more information, visit lucidchart.com.

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