The need for Creative Problem Solving. Competitive demands require quicker, more effective and innovative problem-solving. Problem solvers are expected to quickly provide solutions to increasingly complex problems, develop and design new innovative products and processes – all while reducing research and development time and costs.
To solve creative problems that require creative “out-of-the-box” thinking, we have historically relied on the creativity of “talented thinkers.” The solo-creator is a random process that is not systemically replicable and relies solely on individual talent – an approach limited by personal knowledge, expertise, inspiration, and luck.
Can creative problem solving & innovation be patterned?
In our roadmap to innovation all problems start at the same place – at the beginning of step 1, the user is not challenged with where to begin. The roadmap directs the problem solver to the appropriate tools to use as the problem-solving process progresses.
Problem-solving is systematic; It is organized into six stages:
- Identify the problem
- Select the type of problem
- Apply the analytical tools
- Define a specific problem
- Apply solutions tools
- Compile ideas and implement solutions
Step 1: Define Problem
The objective is to provide a clear problem statement. The current impact of the problem is described and quantified, the goal and expected outcome for the problem solver are described, and limitations of what can and cannot be done or used to achieve the solution are defined.
1.1 Problem Statement
- State the problem or inventive goal. Communicate the essence of the problem in a concise form. What’s wrong? Why is it a problem? What is the purpose of solving the problem? Quantify specific details if possible.
Draw the Problem
- When drawing a problem, include a side and top view if possible. Include any pictures, photographs, engineering drawings, etc. The drawing does not have to be a work of art but should contain the key components for releasing psychological inertia to aid thinking.
1.2 What is the name of the system or process that is the target of the problem in which the problem resides?
1.3 Describe the main useful function of the system or process (this can be a subprocess or process step of interest).
1.4 What is the impact or cost of not solving the problem?
- Capture and quantify the gain of solving the problem as explicitly as possible. Why are you solving this problem? Often, problems are pursued without validating whether there is a return on investment.
1.5 What are the success criteria, the definition of “problem solved”?
- Define what “solved” means. It is essential to communicate with all stakeholders the definition of success to avoid confusion.
- Clarify whether the goal is a quantifiable measure of improvement or complete elimination of the problem. All stakeholders should be clear on what the “problem solved” means.
1.6 What is the timeline for getting a solution?
- Define when a solution is needed or when specific milestones should be complete.
1.7 What are the limitations and requirements?
- Identify any restrictions or limits on resources involved in trying to find a solution. For example, the project should take no more than 10 hours per week, can’t include the use of unsafe chemicals, can’t use the color blue, simple low tech solutions are preferred and so on.
When an innovative team or individual completes the first step Defining the Problem, the current state can be known and then we can move onto the type of problem (the environment or context).