The Creative Problem Solving Process
James Higgins - 101 Creative Problem Solving Techniques
The Handbook of New Ideas for Business
Higgins describes eight basic stages in the creative problem solving process:
- Analysing the environment
- Recognising a probelm
- Identifying the problem
- Making assumptions
- Generating alternatives
- Choosing among alternatives
- Implementing the Chosen Solution
1 - Analysing the environment
You need to be constantly searching for problems including opportunities.
Being able to recognise problems and opportunities as they arise are
essental for success. This phase involves gathering information on the
organisation, market, competition, economy, customers, personnel,
processes, assumptions, weak signals, internal and external organisation
environments. What is happening that might lead to problems or
2 - Recognising a problem
Using the information gathered in the first step an awareness of problems
or opportunities is formed.
3 - Identifying the problem
This stage involves ensuring that efforts are directed to solving the real
problem rather than merely eliminating symptoms, and establishing the
objectives of the problem-solving process. What will constitute evidence
that the problem has been solved? The outcome of this stage is a set of
decision criteria for evaluating various options. Rational and Intuitive
thinking will be used at this stage.
4 - Making assumptions
It is necessary to make assumptions about the condition of future factors
in the problem situation, eg state of the economy. Assumptions can be a
major constraint on the potential success of a solution, or overestimating
the potential of an alternative.
5 - Generating alternatives
Generating alternatives involves cataloging the known options (a rational
act) and generating additional options (a rational and intuitive act. It is at
this stage where most of the creativity processes are found. It is important
to generate many alternatives for the next stage of choosing among
alternatives. Techniques can be grouped into
individual techniques and
6 - Choosing among alternatives
This stage should be based on a systematic evaluation of the alternatives
against the criteria established in the third stage. A rational part of this
exercise is determining the possible outcomes of the various alternatives.
7 - Implementing the Chosen Solution
Once you have a clear idea of what you want to do and a plan for
accomplishing it, you can take action. Set goals, target dates, gain support
from others and map out the detailed steps. Implementation is a series of
problems and opportunities.
8 - Control
Evaluating results is the final, and often over-looked state in the creative-
processing process. The purpose of this stage is to determine how well the
actions you took have solved the problem, and can feed directly back into
the environmental analysis stage, beginning a new cycle of creative
problem solving. It is important to recognise deficiencies in your own
solutions if necessary. There are no specific techniques. Refer back to
the first technique of Analysing the Environment.
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