creative problem-solving

Creative Problem-Solving Approach: Skills, Framework, 3 Real-life Examples

Tired of hitting roadblocks whenever you try to solve a problem? Do you ever feel stuck in a mental rut, unable to think outside the box and come up with innovative solutions? Don’t worry; you’re not alone. We’ve all been there. But what separates successful problem solvers from the rest of us is their ability to approach challenges with creativity and an open mind. 

In this blog, we’ll explore the art of creative problem-solving, offering tips and tricks to help you break through barriers and find practical solutions to any problem that comes your way. So whether you are a leader, manager, employee, or just someone who wants to be a better problem solver, join us on this journey and explore the potential of creative problem-solving. 

So buckle up, get ready to flex your creativity muscles, and let’s dive in!

What is Creative Problem-solving?

Creative problem-solving is breaking down problems to understand them, generate solutions, and evaluate them to find an effective solution.  Alex Osborn and Sydney Parnes originated the creative problem-solving approach in the 1940s.

The approach involves three main steps: problem identification, ideation, and implementation. Firstly, it is essential to identify the specific problem or issue that needs solving. Then, once you have identified the problem, it’s time for ideation – brainstorming possible solutions to the problem and testing each one out. Finally, the best solution is chosen and implemented after carefully considering all the options.

The importance of creative problem-solving in everyday life cannot be overstated. By learning this skill, individuals can build their confidence and develop a more independent approach to decision-making. Creative problem-solving is used in scenarios such as;

  1. Finding a new solution for a recurring issue at work
  2. Generating new marketing ideas for an upcoming product launch
  3. Coming up with unique ways to engage employees during meetings 
By using creative problem-solving techniques in these situations, individuals can identify innovative solutions they may have yet to consider. This ultimately leads to greater success and achievement, both professionally and personally.

Creative Problem-solving Framework

creative problem-solving framework
The CPS (Creative Problem Solving) process is a common creative problem-solving framework. The CPS process consists of the following steps:

  1. Clarify and Identify the Problem: The first step is clearly defining and understanding the problem you are trying to solve. Ask questions to determine the root cause of the problem and identify any underlying issues that may be contributing to it.
  2. Generate Ideas: In this step, you must generate as many ideas as possible without constraints or judgment. Brainstorming is a valuable technique to use here. Encourage everyone to contribute ideas and build on each other’s ideas.
  3. Evaluate Ideas: Once you have generated a list of ideas, it’s time to evaluate them. Look for the most promising ideas with the most significant potential to solve the problem. Evaluate the ideas against criteria such as feasibility, impact, and cost.
  4. Develop Solutions: Now, it’s time to develop solutions based on the best ideas. Combine, refine, or modify the ideas to create a solution that meets the criteria identified in the previous step. Test the solution with a small group to see how it works.
  5. Implement and Evaluate: The final step is implementing the solution and evaluating its effectiveness. Monitor the solution to ensure it works as intended and make any necessary adjustments.
The CPS process is iterative, meaning you may need to revisit some of the earlier steps as you develop and refine your solutions. This framework can be used for solving a wide range of problems, from personal to professional, and can be adapted to suit different situations and contexts.

3 Real-life Examples of Creative Problem Solving:

  1. Netflix: The company revolutionized how we watch TV shows and movies. However, when the company started, it faced a big challenge – getting people to watch their content when they were not a well-known brand. Instead of relying on traditional advertising, Netflix used creative problem-solving to develop a unique solution. They created an algorithm recommending TV shows and movies based on a user’s viewing history, leading to a highly personalized viewing experience. This recommendation engine became a critical factor in the company’s success, helping them attract and retain customers.
  2. NASA: NASA had to devise an instant solution to save the Apollo 13 mission and their team. Their spacecraft was damaged, and they needed a solution to bring their astronauts safely back to Earth. The team fitted a square CO2 filter into a round hole using available materials on the spacecraft; the team used creative problem-solving to develop this approach. This innovative solution allowed the astronauts to return safely to Earth and set this incident as a classic creative solving example.
  3. IKEA: IKEA makes stylish and affordable furniture and is a well-versed company. However, they faced significant challenges entering the Japanese market. Japanese apartments are comparatively smaller than the rest of the world, so the regular product range was irrelevant to Japanese customers. So, IKEA used creative problem-solving to develop a solution appealing to the Japanese market. They launched a variety of products specially created for smaller spaces that are easy to assemble and disassemble—they also introduced a range of futons designed to look like beds, appealing to Japanese customers who prefer sleeping on the floor. This innovative and creative approach helped IKEA successfully enter the Japanese market.
creative problem-solving

Skills to develop for creative problem-solving

Creative problem-solving skills involve approaching problems in innovative and original ways. These skills can be developed through practice and using various techniques and strategies.

Some essential skills for creative problem-solving include:

  1. Flexibility: Being able to adapt to changing circumstances and consider multiple perspectives.
  2. Open-mindedness: Being open to new ideas and willing to challenge assumptions.
  3. Curiosity: Seek more information by questioning and better understanding the problem.
  4. Persistence: If a solution does not work, apply another solution, but continue until the problem is solved.
  5. Divergent thinking: Generating multiple ideas and exploring different possibilities.
  6. Convergent thinking: Evaluating and selecting the best ideas based on specific criteria.
  7. Visualization: Using mental imagery to explore solutions and ideas.
  8. Collaboration: Working with others to combine different perspectives and knowledge.
  9. Risk-taking: Being willing to take calculated risks and try new approaches.
  10. Innovation: Combining ideas and approaches in novel ways to create new solutions.
You need to develop and refine these skills to become an effective problem solver ready to face complex challenges at both personal and professional levels.


Creative problem-solving in a structured approach to finding effective and innovative solutions to complex problems. It is used in various domains of life, such as business, personal growth, and innovation. By systematically identifying the problem, researching it, generating ideas, evaluating it, and executing an action plan, you can overcome complex issues that seem unsolvable at first glance. To enhance your leadership or manager abilities, sign up to Risely and train yourself.

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What are the five steps in creative problem-solving?

The five steps in creative problem solving are: problem identification, information gathering, idea generation, evaluation and selection, and implementation.

What are the 4 Ps of creative problem solving?

The 4 Ps of creative problem solving are Problem, People, Process, and Product. They refer to the different aspects that must be considered when solving problems creatively.

Is creative problem solving a skill?

Yes, creative problem-solving is a skill that involves using creative and innovative approaches to find solutions to problems. It can be developed and improved through practice and training.

How is creative problem solving a logical process?

Creative problem-solving is a logical process involving using rational and analytical thinking to identify, evaluate, and select the best solution to a problem while incorporating imaginative and innovative approaches.

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