Creative Problem Solving


Structured process for generating new ideas or solutions from the perspective of the client's challenges

Creative Problem Solving is a structured process for generating novel solutions. In contrast to Design Thinking, which is user-centered, Creative Problem Solving focuses more on the client and their challenges. It is therefore well suited for topics for which there are no users (yet), or also for process optimizations that have as their goal, for example, a reduction in costs.

The first version of Creative Problem Solving was developed by Alex Osborn and Sidney J. Parnes in the 1950s.

Alex Osborne had previously described the basic rules of brainstorming and wanted to develop a model for the entire process of creative problem solving. Alex Osborne distinguished between two basic modes of thinking that take place in the Creative Problem Solving process:

– divergent thinking (thinking in many options) and
– convergent thinking (evaluative thinking, making decisions)

There are now many different versions of the process, which has evolved over the years. Different authors use different versions:

The Creative Problem Solving Process according to Isaksen and Treffinger from 1992 consists of six sub-steps in three phases. These are:

1. Explore the Challenge
1.1 Mess Finding (Determining the Target)
1.2 Data Finding (Gathering Necessary Information)
1.3 Problem Finding (identifying the problem that needs to be solved in order to achieve the goal)

2. generate ideas (Generate Ideas)
2.1 Idea Finding (generating ideas for solving the identified problem)

Prepare for Action 3.
3.1 Solution Finding (working out ideas into an implementable solution)
3.2 Acceptance Finding (Planning Action Steps)

This version was adapted again in 2000 by Isaksen, Dorval and Treffinger and divided into four phases with eight sub-steps. These are:

1 Understanding the Challenge
– Constructing Opportunities
– Exploring Data
– Framing Problems

2 Generating Ideas

3 Preparing for Action
– Developing Solutions
– Building Acceptance

4 Planning your Approach
– Appraising Tasks
– Designing Process

In turn, Dr. Gerard J. Puccio and Marie Mance’s 2011 CPS Learner Model is a widely used model today and consists of four phases and six sub-steps. These are:

– Explore the Vision
– Gather Data
– Formulate Questions

– Explore Ideas

– Formulate Solutions

– Formulate a Plan

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