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Problem Solving

Discuss about the "Creative and Innovation".
 

In the domain of creativity and problem solving,  we get a number of words that are linked with the problem solving. In situations, people consider problem solving is overcoming of any difficulty that was imposed. They concentrate their attention on the word ‘problem’, and consider it to be a negative thing. But, at many instances people associate the job of problem solving with words like logic, analysis. We come to the decision that problem solving is basically the way to close the gap between the present situation and the desired one. We engage in problem solving on a daily basis such as adding up amounts etc. when we try to remember birthdays. Problem solving involves designing solution to face any challenging situation; the search for the solution is generally based on one’s knowledge. Mostly, the challenge is well explained with clear methods for solution, it may at times also have clear boundaries to be considered for the solution.

A creative approach basically means that we are moving towards a solution never before done. Situations like these generally consist of an ill-structured problem and unfamiliar solutions. Although, a creative approach requires your knowledge but its ones imagination that is the actual player in this regard, and also ones intelligence applied during the approach (Bytheway, C. 2007). A creative approach also requires courage, it also means being open to unfamiliar experience, treading into new paths. The creative approach also requires us to use all resources at hand-people, method and also the context. A creative approach requires us to do something that has never been attempted before, which means moving from our comfort zone to deliver something challenging, that is basically unknown, and the results are uncertain.

Instead of keeping creativity away from problem solving, we take the approach that is designed to use both our imagination and our intelligence, to focus as well as generate, to use memory alongside with logic and also our base emotions. The opportunities that are created by merging this two have a diverse collection of plans, approaches enabling us to work around a wide sphere of challenges. The art of linking creative thinking with problem solving is a form of janusian thinking. This is named after Janus, the roman god. The actual reason why janus was given such respect, was because he had to look in two opposite directions simultaneously. Being, the god of doorway, he looked both inside and outside simultaneously. 

Creative Approach

Brainstorming is not exactly creative problem solving, although most of the times that is what people think. It is actually a designed and outlined process that helps us from problem incubation to finding and implementing appropriate solutions. Creative ideas do not appear in one’s mind without any effort, rather they are the result of trying to solve a problem or to accomplish a specified goal. A suitable example would be-Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity, which took the world by storm were not sudden inspirations. But, they were the result of a lot of mental hard working, which paved the path fro such a discovery. The most famous geniuses in the world have worked in the above way, they put the best of their mind to derive an appropriate solution to their problems. They never waited for the creative ideas to occur to them, rather they tried to work out the problems in their own minds, applying the basics of creative thinking. In more simple words, creative thinking is defined as a problem solving process that addresses any problem, and aims to combat it creatively. The solution that we get is considered creative as it is not a familiar one (Ceserani, J. and Greatwood, P. 1995).To meet the basic criteria so that the problem solving process is considered creative, the solution that is obtained should be able to resolve the concerned problem in a new way, given the solution is dealt individually. Specific application of the term, the art of creative problem solving applies to the famously known Osborn-parnes(CPS) process for creatively solving problems. The process was developed by Dr.Sidney J Parnes and Alex Osborn, during the 1950s.The major difference that lies between this process and other CPS process that is available in the markets is the structured use of both the divergent and also convergent thinking during each step of the process. Mostly, each step begins with divergent thinking, which basically means an bigger search for many alternatives, this is followed by convergent thinking which is the tedious process of evaluating each alternative on basis of the pro’s and the con’s and selecting them. While describing the creative problem solving process of Osborne-parnes. There are at least four models that should be taken into consideration. The important three are being discussed here.-

1. a) Linear-The linear model, has its own unique features ,each of the stages of the process is shown by a diamond shape. This shape stands for first, generating or diverging options. Thinking is in straight lines, which moves step by step for maintaining order (Chasser, A. and Wolfe, J. 2010). This model came out during the 1970s.

Linking creativity and problem-solving

2. b) Bubble

During the 1990s ,the diamond shape that was being used changed into bubbles that were connected ,now this represents an attitude shift towards connectedness that was directed and meaningful at the same time. There are three stages unique to the bubble model. The linear model on the other hand has diamond shapes with smooth outlines and there are arrows present which shows direction.

3. c) Systemic

The construction that is used in this model actually agrees with our normally used web-like view that is interrelated. The bubble and the diamond cps model offer well thought out approaches to CPS, this model actually tells us exactly what is happening. It outlines the key phases involved and makes a chart of the thinking process that is being utilized for each. 

Creative problem solving has been around for a long time, and has been the basis of problem solving for centuries. The importance of creative problem solving is immense, its incubation was the day when humans started to think innovatively (Creativity, innovation, and job creation, 1997) .It was first formally outlined by Alex os born who invented the process of formal brainstorming ,to derive a solution. However, many different approaches exist to CPS. The various CPS steps that are widely used are-

1.clarify and identify the problem

2.Research the problem

3.Formulate creative challenges

4.Generate ideas

5.combine and evaluate the ideas

6.Draw up an action plan

7.Do it  

  1. a) Clarify and identify the problem

It can easily be argued as the most important step in the CPS process, which is to clarify and identify the main problem. This though it may sound easy, but is easier said than done. As, most of the time we fail to identify the central problem, To cite an example in this regard, one may think that he needs a new job, but what he actually needs is something to pay for his expenses better, here the solution is considered to be a job, but it can also be to rearrange and manage more efficiently the expenses to be able to save up. So, the fact is there is some difficulty associated with clearly identifying the main problem. The most effective way to deal with such a situation is to ask you a series of questions about our problems in order to clarify them. The most basic question in this regard-why is this a problem? Or Why do I want to achieve this?. As an example consider the situation where you want to deal with your shyness. First ask yourself the question –why you want to do this? And the answer is ‘as I am lonely’. Then you ask yourself again” why else” many more times, and the answer comes out to be” because I do not know many people in this city” and then” because I would like to do things with likeminded individuals”. So, after this analysis we realise that the actual problem is not the shyness, but it is about doing things with likeminded individuals. So, if one would put his energy in finding likeminded individuals, he would not even have to deal with the problem of shyness in the first place. In addition to this, the problem can also be clarified by asking one –“what do I really want to accomplish”,” what prevents me from accomplishing it”. By answering all these types of questions we get a better idea about our problems and also find better versed methods to deal with them creatively (Duggan, 2007).There are also the restraints that are to be considered before dealing with the problem” what is the time frame ”,”Is there any money related issues”. One should make a list of all these constraints before diving into the problem.

  1. b) Research the problem

The basics of creative problem solving

The next vital step of CPS is the research part, it is important to research the problem in to get a more vivid understanding of it. Based on the nature of the problem, it may be required to do extensive research or maybe even little. The most effective place to start for it is from a good start engine. But, neglecting information from old fashioned sources will be folly. Libraries can provide in depth reading on the situation which is very helpful .Family, colleagues and friends can also be helpful in this regard, going for forums providing expert opinion is also a good idea. But, most importantly try to collect and assess suggestions from a wide array of people which helps in effective research.

  1. c) Formulate one or more creative challenges

By the above methods, one should be conversant by now with the basics of identifying and analysing the challenges. The next logical step is to convert these issues into challenges that are creative .A creative challenge consists of a basic question that has been developed to encourage ideas or suggestions. Creative challenges by nature, should be simple, and most importantly should focus on a single issue .As an example-“How am I supposed to improve my English and find a job”. These are two separate challenges and must not be put together , attempt to generate ideas that will solve both these problems simultaneously would cover the prospect of creative thinking. The most logical solution here is to break the problem and then apply different strategies to deal with them differently, that way both these problems can be solved by employing creative thinking .Do not throw evaluation criteria in creative challenges.

  1. d) Generate ideas

Finally, the part which most people associate with brainstorming and creative thinking. First, we take only one creative problem and try to generate as many ideas as possible. One can take the help of family members and friends if required .The ideas can be written down, or applications such as MS-Word can also be used, this is not the important agenda what matters are these rules. Which are-write down every idea that crosses your mind, no matter if the idea may seem stupid still write it down without any exceptions. If this is being done in a group make sure that no one is criticizing others ideas cause this discourages the person involved and also disrupts the atmosphere of creative thinking. But, if you are doing it alone do not stop until you have reached your target number of ideas. If many people are involved, allot a time span of fifteen to twenty minutes and then discuss ever y idea that comes in one’s  mind, this way people will improve upon their ideas by adding from others ideas. If one is facing problems in coming up with ideas open a dictionary choosing a random word, make ideas that can somehow be associated. Another thing worth noting, is that brainstorming does not necessarily have to be done at one home or office even ,if one feels that he cannot develop creative ideas he may go someplace he feels comfortable enough to start being innovative it may even be a park or a coffee shop (Gold, 2007). The internet is also available option in this regard. Another notable point, is if one is feeling devoid of original ideas, it is advisable to sleep on it, cause research has shown that our brains generate creative ideas while we sleep, so it is a good idea to give a try on the next day as it gives better chances of succeeding .

  1. e) Combine and evaluate ideas

Seven-step CPS framework

After one has noted down all his ideas concerning the problem. Take a small break, then come back and go through the ideas, ideas may come together to form bigger ones. Choose your favourite ideas from the list but be careful not to cut out the creative ones, then give the chosen criteria a rating ranging from 0 to 5.After the score has been allotted to each idea, analyse each and see if the score of these ideas can be improved or not, then choose the idea with the highest score, it might not solve your problem exactly in the way you want it to be, but it will be the most suitable solution to your current challenge. Now, based on the type of challenge that one is dealing with he might be provoked to go on and implement these ideas, or in many case they may require more stricter evaluation .A SWOT analysis might be in order, to smoothen out the evaluation. SWOT  stands for (Strengths, weakness, opportunities and threat).What this does is it weighs down all of the options being considered to solve the challenge and move further, it rates each of the options based on the above four criteria of strength, weakness, opportunities ,threats. So, it makes the job of choosing a viable option more easy and balanced as it incorporates all the aspects (Goldenberg, J. and Mazursky, 2002). If the concerned ideas are business related, a market research might be in order. It is not important to limit one to an exact favourite idea, one can also experiment to derive the perfect solution.

  1. f) Do it

This is the most basic step .But, also the one that decides the course of the challenges faced. Take the decided plan and execute it, with close proximity to what had been planned out. And ,if things go awry, u may even rewrite your plan.

Application on real life business problems

Creative thinking is very important for real life problem solving in the business domain. Mostly, because the market is ever changing and to be above the competition means that one has to be able to devise strategies that can combat the ever changing scenario. This is where the art or rather the technique of applying creative thinking to real life problem solving comes into the picture. By, creatively solving challenges we preserve our originality and boost our self-esteem by embarking and successfully completing challenges that are not familiar and that has never been done by anyone before us. So, we realise that applying the creative approach to real life business problems is very important .Ther are many examples  of applying creative thinking to problem solving. Some of which are given below-

Linear model

1. Logic Tree based problem solving

A very effective way to allow staff to use creative thinking to meet business challenges in real life is by the use of logic trees .A logic tree problem solving is a method which visualizes a very detailed exploration of any decision making scene. As one completes each step on the logic tree, the solver then branches out to more finer aspects of the problem until they arrive at some satisfactory responses which are based on the variables which are specific to the individual situation being dealt with. The logic tree based problem solving is beneficial immensely, cause it not only is it a teaching tool but a problem solving tree that is committed to documentation in the form of a flowchart that is quite simple to follow helps the staff to deal with problems in the way that the management expects them to, an it also does not involve any direct consulting with a supervisor (Hesselbein, F. and Johnston, 2002). This is hence a very powerful tool which if used effectively especially in a small business scene is very valuable, where most staff members are required to be as effective independently as possible.

2. Strategic Problem solving as a cost preventive measure

A manufacturing background requires problem solving quite often that mostly relates to troubleshooting devices or machines failure. Management then consults the particular equipment provider, then comes up with a plan taking the time into consideration for the present staff to deal with the failed equipment. An appropriate example to depict this scenario is as below-an office printer stops working normally, the staff then resort to the process of solving the problem strategically. They first start by looking for the most basic reasons for failure-if paper is present in the printer, then he moves on to problems which are not so common, like checking if the paper got jammed, if all this fails the staff as in accordance with the problem solving chart replace the cartridge of ink, and restart his computer and printer .If all of this is done to no avail, then the staff calls a technician specific to such issues to take care of the printer.

3.Strategic problem  solving in customer service applications

The domain of customer service requires varied application of strategic and creative problem solving. Problem solving in this context often means dealing with complaints from customers and a well thought out plan to handle a complaint is easier than avoiding it. A common technique that has widespread use is providing a small special discount to affected customers in attempt to deal with the grievances.

Bubble Model

4.Intuitiive problem solving and small businesses

Small business stands an advantage in that they can improve hugely from applying the procedures that are adopted by big businesses to their daily operations. The staffs though definitely faces problems which are first of its kind but a journal which details the various problems that are expected to be faced and providing detailed and practical solutions to specific problems is a great tool to have (Johnston, R. and Bate, 2003). Even if a new solution has not been fruitful it can also be recorded so that in future the company can try out more varied and more innovative solutions when a problem similar to it arises. To store larger records though a digital database is a boon.

5.Marketing

Creative marketing does not mean, developing with newer and revolutionary ideas, it also requires a good understanding of the markets involved, the preferences of the target consumers of the product being developed and slowly but steadily building the brand  value of the product. Applying creative ideas to marketing let’s one understand and combat the market better, and create a unique product image and also to develop innovative campaigns. To succeed here, it requires not only applying creative thinking to problem solving but also good judgement and awareness about the market .It helps to develop a strong marketing strategy for businesses ,to deliver the perfect message to the consumers in terms of the proiduct. It helps in effective connections with the customers.

6.Training Techniques

Irrespective of whether one is a trainer or a designer or a project manager. He or she will have to at some point or the other impart training to subordinates on new emerging technologies or practices. The training sessions have to designed so that the concerned audience may find it interesting and also at the same time learn the concepts effectively (Paulus, P. and Nijstad, 2003). So, here the process of applying creative thinking comes to play , in designing training courseware that can enrich the experience of the audience, which will ultimately affect the concerned company’s performance. The main motive should be to design sessions that are interactive and more importantly one of a kind to keep the interest of the audience preserved for a longer time, and this requires applying creative thinking. The sessions should include practical examples as a way of engaging the audience.   

For an entrepreneur looking to develop a business or develop network with potentially important clients. Creative strategies and a well-structured plan is very important for success  and applying creative thinking helps you to do so. Many, take only the customary approach that hurts their business development. Fresh ideas and new approaches are key to business development and retaining clients (Plsek, 1997). So, building a creative approach to problem solving which can be extended to business solutions are very important to succeed. Not only it helps to understand the market better but also reflects on one’s own strengths and weaknesses. A good entrepreneur looks at the picture from above and sans conventional approach of business this is where creative thinking shows its colour.

Conclusion 

The business world is a very competitive arena, which takes the best out of one. To excel here would require utmost patience with the power of creative thinking and applying those notions strategically to problem solving on a real life scenario (Stokes, 2006). his above script depicts closely how creative thinking is applied to a real life business scenario.   

References 

Bytheway, C. (2007). FAST creativity & innovation. Fort Lauderdale, Fla.: J. Ross Pub.

Ceserani, J. and Greatwood, P. (1995). Innovation & creativity. London: Kogan Page.

Chasser, A. and Wolfe, J. (2010). Brand rewired. Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley.

Creativity, innovation, and job creation. (1997). Paris: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Duggan, W. (2007). Strategic intuition. New York: Columbia University Press.

Duggan, W. (2007). Strategic intuition. New York: Columbia University Press.

Gold, R. (2007). The plenitude. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

Goldenberg, J. and Mazursky, D. (2002). Creativity in product innovation. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press.

Hesselbein, F. and Johnston, R. (2002). On creativity, innovation, and renewal. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Hesselbein, F. and Johnston, R. (2002). On creativity, innovation, and renewal. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Johnston, R. and Bate, J. (2003). The power of strategy innovation. New York: AMACOM.

Paulus, P. and Nijstad, B. (2003). Group creativity. New York: Oxford University Press.

Plsek, P. (1997). Creativity, innovation, and quality. Milwaukee, Wis.: ASQ Quality Press.

Stokes, P. (2006). Creativity from constraints. New York: Springer Pub. Co.

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