Creativity and the four mantras of problem solving
“Creativity and problem solving are only two sides of the same coin” (Prof. Dr. Kirton). We all want to be creative and we also want our teams to be creative. Ignoring or not taking the following “four mantras” seriously makes us less effective in our problem-solving skills.
1) Recognize problems as such.
Some companies pride themselves on saying, “We have no problems, just a couple of challenges.” Thinking in this way blinds us to problems. The most creative people see problems where the rest of us are simply content with the status quo. Who had a problem before the wheel was invented? To sharpen our vision of valuable opportunities and solutions, we must spot the problems first. That means we should call them that way.
2) Treat your brain like a “muscle”.
When you ask for a major “creativity”, prepare people as if you wanted to take them to a marathon. Our daily life has our muscles ill-prepared for such efforts. We need a training program. We will also be on a special diet (more on that in mantra # 3). The eve of the event we reviewed our strategy. Before we begin, there is a warm-up. Are you setting up your “2015 Product Roadmap Meeting” this way?
3) Feed your brain “many points”.
We all know how important it is to connect seemingly unrelated “dots”. What remains under-appreciated is the obvious precondition: having a lot of dots to connect! The preparation phase of a creativity session should provide them to the participants. Well-equipped “war rooms” or “Obeya rooms” are full of them. Creative people feed their brains with them. These points cannot be outside our own area. What is your “reading diet”? Mostly emails? That is simply not healthy.
4) Appreciate diversity in problem solving.
We all know the “diversity” posters on the wall. When it comes to creativity, gender, age, or any of the usual demographics, it doesn’t matter as much as our preferred problem-solving style. TA Edison and N. Tesla were clashing over it. Companies need both their styles, and any combination of them, to be successful. However, companies’ appreciation of how good people are at solving problems often favors one style at the expense of the other. With sometimes disastrous results.
For any of these four mantras, psychology, modern business practice, and a variety of consultants have come up with solid methods. Which of these you use may not matter as much as addressing all four mantras consistently. – All the best to solve your problems!