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Creative Problem Solving: Six Key Principles to Better Solutions

posted 17 Nov 2010, 19:38 by Sam Mbale

How can you be more effective at creative problem solving?
Use these six key principles of creative problem solving.
Avoid the common mistakes that are made when attempting to
solve problems. Instead understand these six principles and
you can find more productive and innovative solutions to the
problems that challenge you.

You Know Nothing
You might find this hard to believe. But this is where you
need to start. The reality is that we don't "know" anything.
We only "believe" that we know things. Remember when
everybody "knew" that the world was flat? Things changed and
what we though we knew changed. If you think you already know
the answer, you will not be creative. To be more creative in
your approach to problem solving you need to start with the
words of Sergeant Schultz from the old TV show, Hogan's
Heroes, "I know nothing."

Problems Are Treasures
Problems are the source of new products, markets and
opportunities. Naturally that is not the first reaction that
most of us have when we face a new problem. We are usually
annoyed and troubled by the problem because it presents
difficulty and uncertainty for us. However, almost every new
product (and service) was the answer to a problem. Every
product is an aspirin to a headache. If you are experiencing
a headache, there is a product for that - that might be
waiting to be created. Want more treasure? Search for

Deferred Judgment
The principle of deferred judgment states that while
exploring the possible solutions to a problem, first you
diverge with your thinking and then you converge. Two
separate stages. You can only do one at a time. To diverge
ask "Why?" and "What if?" After you have finished diverging
- then you converge. To converge you ask "How?" and "What is
needed?" Zoom out then zoom in.

Fools and Experts
Creative problem solving demands both fools and experts on
your team. Fools are the ones who ask the divergent
questions. They look at the big picture. They often ask
foolish questions that spawn new ideas. Many of those ideas
might be silly or impractical - but be patient. Listen to
the questions and explore the ideas. Fools will help you be

Experts are the convergent thinkers. You need them to
examine the wild ideas and focus on the best ideas. Experts
will tell you how to implement. Experts will help you be

Creative problem solving is a process of asking advancing
questions. It's a matter of asking the right questions at
the right time to move the process forward. If you want to
be more creative in your problem solving, learn the
questions to ask and the proper sequence. When you ask
questions - listen without judgment.

Rules are Tools
Rules are tools. They should not become barriers. All rules
were created to make life easier for someone at some point
in time All rules should be questioned because conditions
change and the rule might no longer apply. Ask "Why?" to
discover the root of the rule. Maybe it's time to change,
amend or remove that outdated rule.

Transform your problems into opportunities, new products and
treasure. Follow these six key principles of creative problem

About the Author:

© George Torok is a Creativity Catalyst. He facilitates
workshops and seminars on Creative Problem Solving and
Creative Thinking. For more creative ideas visit  To arrange for
George to work with your team visit or
call 905-335-1997