New Solutions to Old Problems – Part 2

In New Solutions to Old Problems – Part 1, we looked at a creative problem solving learner’s model and its benefits. In this section, we look at how to apply this four-step model to generate ideas and solutions that are innovative and intelligent.

Step 1: Simplify

Examine your visions

Identify the goals, wants, needs and challenges you have or will encounter. This step is crucial, as it’s not always immediately apparent what the problem is. Defining an objective allows you to explore all the possibilities and gain clarity, so that you can fully understand the issue and not miss something.

Collect data

After you’ve identified and explored the problem, you can begin to gather information to further elucidate the next steps you’ll need to take. Listing details, such as what is needed to take the next step, who will be involved and how they feel about it, as well as listing all relevant facts will lay a foundation for you to proceed.

Propose the right questions

After the previous two steps, you should have a good idea of what problems and challenges you’ll face, so now it’s time to ask yourself relevant questions that will help you generate some solutions. Don’t just ask questions about the end goal; instead, think about all the obstacles you’ll face and try to ask about what opportunities these obstacles might present!

Step 2: Conceive an idea

Generate ideas

Explore some ideas that address the questions you’ve created in step 1, above. This step is about innovative thinking that stays away from the most obvious, habitual solutions and delves into the area of thinking outside the box. Perhaps attempt to brainstorm or use a mind map in order to challenge your creativity. It’s always worth bouncing your most creative ideas off others, as their input might foster another line of thought that may never have occurred to you alone. This step of the process should be performed when you have plenty of time to spare and there’s no reason you can’t spend days – or even longer – generating ideas.

Step 3: Hone and develop

Generate solutions

This stage is when all of your ideas and options converge to generate solutions. Again, you should leave yourself with plenty of time for this step and think carefully and with focus. Consider your potential solutions and analyse whether they are sufficient to meet your needs, meet your criteria and are able to be successfully implemented. Once you have determined which of your solutions fit your problem the best, consider ways in which you can strengthen them. Be critical but keep an open mind and don’t rush your decisions.

Step 4: Put your effort into practice

Develop a plan

Now that you’ve settled on the best solution, it’s time to develop a plan and set it into motion! The first step to doing this is to identify the steps needed to implement your solution and resources that will help you along the way. Write these down and systematically go through your list, adding steps and resources if and where needed.

Organize others
If you have other people involved in your process, ensure that each person knows what their role is and is happy to complete it. Don’t forget to ensure each person is rewarded for their efforts too!

For the win!
Once you have simplified your problem, conceived some ideas, honed and developed them and put them into practice, you’ll have achieved your initial goals; however, there’s no such thing as limits to creative problem solving, so there’s always room to expand and adapt your ideas into newer and better things!

The CFS Team
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