Creativity and Problem Solving at Work

  • Rickards T
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Abstract

Distinction drawn between “open-ended” and “close-ended” problems. Close-ended problems are problems that have answers that are the logical consequences of the nature of the problem “givens”. Open-ended problems do not have correct answers because they may not be precisely enough defined, or because people see the problem in different ways. There is more scop for creativity in open-ended problems. 1.One right answer problems. The classic problem of school days. People who assume that all problems have a right answer will block off many opportunities for creativity. 2.Insight problems (AHA problems) These turn out to have unexpected answers and can be solved with the “eureka” moment. 3.Wicked problems. In which the potential solution cannot be proved until the problem has been tackled. Complex social engineering problems which cannot be tested in pilot schemes are of this kind. 4.Vicious problems. Like wicked problems, but where the solutions turn out to create even bigger problems. Opportunity for creativity is great here. 5.Fuzzy problems. Have unclear boundaries and do not lend themselves to resolution by logical analytical approaches. Mind Set: Personal differences in perception. ·Helps us become sensitized to important repeated patterns or events. eg, flashing red light sets off our alarm systems. ·Blocks us when we are too ready to accept similarities with the past, so that, if we have made an incorrect assumption, we carry on too long before discovering the error. ·One correct answer thinking: Remedy: There must be a better way: there might be better ways. ·Negative or “yes but” thinking: Remedy: “yes and “ thinking ·Over regard for logical thinking. Remedy: accept the need for intuition as well as logic. ·Over reliance on experience (we’ve always done it this way). Remedy: Then let’s find a better way. When stuck, change assumptions A block or problem can be overcome by disguising it. The disguised problem or metaphor is tackled so that the strange becomes familiar and the familiar becomes strange. The process weakens left brain thinking: Left brain thinking ~ verbal, logical, step-by-step Right brain thinking ~ visual, pattern manipulating, intuitive, superficially like creative thinking. Setting a climate for creativity. Creative climate is one where people trust each other so they can take psychological risks of being open and revealing their deeper needs and fears. Uncreative climate is one ‘which leads people to avoid risks, be over-critical of new ideas, and resist attempts to introduce change’. Page 19 Creative leadership ‘Creativity can be managed and stimulated’ page 20 The obvious way to be a creative manager is through example- sparking off ideas which can be implemented. However this strategy rarely succeeds. Another way is to concentrate on ideas about ideas.. The concern is about how to get the best out of other people’s talents, so that the emphasis is on the management of people. This style has been called facilitating, or process-oriented. To develop this style it is necessary to pay attention to the signals which people give out regarding their needs and beliefs. Sometimes, the best way to help people solve problems is not to supply your own solutions- even if it is obvious to you what need to be done. Creative leaders make things happen- more like a midwife than a surgeon. ‘Creativity in a changing environment is a corporate necessity, not an add-on luxury’ page 40 Creativity is escape from stuckness or self-imposed mental blocks. Some widely used methods are: ·Lateral thinking: oIntermediate impossible, or finding stepping stones from one perception of reality to a new one. oRandom juxtaposition, which forces you to extend the horizons of your creative thinking by the deliberate introduction of evocative and radom extra ideas. oConcept challenge, which focuses attention on the assumptions behind assertions of fact and belief ·Reversing perspective, turn threats into opportunities, weaknesses into strengths. ·Bunches of bananas, a provocative introduction of irrelevant material when searches are only producing unimaginative ideas. ·Wishful thinking, expressing suppressed but deeply held goals as a starting point to achieving them. ·Knight’s move thinking, finding imaginative ways of escaping from either/or thinking. ·Force-fitting ideas, two ideas become merged into a powerful new concept combining the virtues of each of the original ideas. Changing corporate culture It is important to test out the starting point of problems.

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Authors

  • Tudor Rickards

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