Creative Problem Solving: 10 Tips

The creative solution to a problem often presents itself spontaneously, as if it happened without us.  It feels like a little epiphany, what Oprah magazine calls the “aha moment”,

Because that’s how it feels, we can think we had nothing to do with its arrival.  This is one of the reasons why so many people approach problems with set patterns and ways of thinking.  Or, alternatively, sit waiting for a creative solution to arrive, to fall out of the sky.

In fact, there is a great deal you can do to encourage a seemingly spontaneous, exciting and oh-so-perfect solution to your problems – every time.

1. Identify yourself as a creative person.

2. Commit yourself to the creative way. Say goodbye to the tried and tested (tired and tested) and open up to new possibilities.

3. Give yourself time. Walk away from the desk or wherever the locus of the problem is.  Switch off.  Stop thinking.

4. Give yourself space. Go for a walk, go to a park, or go sit somewhere quietly by yourself in a cafe.

5. With a pen and paper, brainstorm (write down really quickly) all possible solutions.  Don’t reject anything that comes. Hold yourself open to the seemingly absurd — some of the best creative ideas are derivatives of really bad ones.

6. Do a mind map and/or F-R-E-E-Write around the problem

7. Don’t be afraid of making a mistake.  If you can’t make mistkaes (!) you can’t make anything.

8. Make a list of the pros and cons of the obvious, not-quite-right solution.

9. Changing your tools can change your thinking.  If you always use a black pen, go for green.  Or a pencil.  Or charcoal or coloured markers.

10. Surround yourself with people who appreciate creativity. If your friends tend to laugh off or put down your ideas, seek out a supportive community elsewhere.


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