Creativity can be a powerful and practical business tool but when you’re faced with a creativity challenge like writers block how do you overcome quickly and continue moving forward? You’ve probably heard the term “creative problem solving” before, but what is it exactly? Creative problem solving is the process of identifying an old problem, imagining new solutions to that problem and implementing those new solutions.
At the 1904 World’s Fair, a Syrian pastry chef named Ernest Hamwi sold his wafer-like desserts in a booth next to an ice cream stand. When the ice cream vendor ran out of cups, Hamwi rolled his wafers into cone-like shapes and created the first ice cream cones. Hamwi used his creative problem solving skills to identify a problem, reframe that problem as an opportunity and combine the resources he had at his disposal to create something new.
That is the essence of creative problem solving!
And, when you utilize this method of thinking in business, it can help you find unique solutions to problems that arise, open your mind to new possibilities and maximize your potential!
Here are some tips on how to use the creative problem solving process when you encounter business challenges.
Define the problem you are hoping to solve and let your imagination run wild. No idea is too big or too bad in a brainstorming session so it’s important not to judge your ideas or censor yourself. The goal is to open your mind to all possibilities! And, sometimes, that requires going through some pretty bad ideas first.
Say, for example, you are starting a new business and you need a catchy name for your brand. Start with a brainstorm! Look at some of your competitors and identify what makes your brand or product unique. Write those things down. Pick out words that come up frequently. If the common words are too generic, try a thesaurus as a tool to find a more specific way of expressing the same idea. You will come up with a long list of prospective names in no time.
Reframe problems as opportunities.
A large part of creative problem solving revolves around shifting your thought process, and the language that you use can be a huge part of that! So, instead seeing “problems,” try seeing “opportunities.” When you use positive language, you open yourself up to more positive results.
So next time a challenge arises, don’t look at the “problem.” The problem is the effect. Instead focus on the cause, and consider how you can change your business practices so that the same series of events does not occur again.
By taking a step back and giving yourself the opportunity to look at the bigger picture, you can discover new ways to alter the cause and avoid an undesired effect.
Use the resources at your disposal to create something new.
You could also call this being resourceful!
Whether you are an online blogger or a marketing guru or a clothing manufacturer, you have lots of resources at your disposal that you use every day to run your business.
Take an inventory of your business. Are you using your resources effectively and to the best of their ability? Where else are these resources needed in the marketplace? If there is an opportunity for your resources to serve more than one purpose, brainstorm ways to take something you already have and use it in a new way – – just like our ice cream cone example!
So, next time you encounter a business challenge, try flexing your creative problem solving muscles to find a solution. The results might just surprise you!