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Creative Problem-Solving 

by Ed Draper
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A Valuable Tool for Creatives & Innovators

Creative problem-solving is a methodology that involves using imagination, lateral thinking, and other innovative techniques to find new and effective solutions to problems. It is especially useful when conventional methods have not worked or when dealing with complex, unconventional or novel problems.

Elements of creative problem-solving include:

  • Open-mindedness and a willingness to explore new ideas and perspectives
  • A focus on finding new and innovative solutions, rather than simply fixing existing problems
  • Collaboration and teamwork, to generate ideas and build on the ideas of others
  • A willingness to experiment and try new approaches, even if they may fail

Openness is a Key

The key construct of creative problem-solving is openness, which totally makes sense. Afterall, a close-minded approach would likely lead down a singular path, fail in its mission, and harm team morale in the process. 

Alternately, open-mindedness explores many options to ensure better outcomes. Additionally, positive collaboration elevates a team’s experience, confidence, and drive for future efforts. 

Flexible Use for Individuals and Teams 

Broad applications are possible. Creative problem-solving is flexible enough for individual use to resolve a single issue as well as the teamwork necessary for collaborative efforts. 

The same methodology applies for individuals and collaborative efforts. With teams, however, good communication skills are helpful and necessary, if not required.

All Ideas are Good Ideas

Teamwork – it is critical for teams to practice positive reinforcement during the process. Encourage friendly demeanors, and remain positive when other people speak. Accept every new idea when practical. Capture them electronically or share in a collaboration tool. Keep everyone engaged. In practice, you will quickly learn why, “All ideas are good ideas,” (even when some are not). 

Obviously, you can’t implement multiple ideas to solve the same problem, but there are many reasons to discuss all proposals. For starters, it’s good to have backup options – you may need a workaround. Also, open minds will benefit from communication practices which include query and response, contrast and compare, problem identification, risk and reward, and many other analysis techniques. 

How to Start with a Wish 

Individual Approach – “All ideas are good ideas,” is a good mantra for individual problem-solving efforts, too. With that refrain internalized, another important aspect is where to start. 

Steps for practicing creative problem-solving are listed below and the first step is critical to a successful outcome. It requires an accurate problem definition. 

Once upon a time, I was employed by E.I. DuPont de Nemours, and studied the subject formally. Maybe the best part of the DuPont class was about how to define a problem with clarity, and how to begin the process. The starter tactic is both effective and simple. 

To start the process, transform a simple form of the problem into a sentence using the DuPont class technique described above and shown below. That is, restate the problem into simple sentence structure and include “how to” or “I wish.” 

Start with one simple instance and expand from there as you reflect and learn more.  

Examples of the DuPont Class Technique for Creative Problem-Solving

  • Problem One: Funding 
    • I wish we had funding.
    • How to find funding.
    • How to find funding for the design phase of the project. 
    • How to monetize art and written works with commerce on web3.
  • Problem Two: Marketing
    • I wish it was easy to start a newsletter.
    • How to find the best social platform for art. 
    • How to build a supportive community for artists, musicians, writers, and innovators.
  • Problem Three: Web3 and NFT Sales
    • I wish NFT art was easy to create and sell.
    • How to create NFTs and develop collectible art series.
    • How to find the best web3 companies for minting and selling NFTs made from my art.

Making problem statements with “I wish” or “how to” might seem odd at first but try it. Negative thoughts quickly turn positive and creative viewpoints come to mind.  

A Guide for Creative Problem-Solving 

The basic steps of the problem-solving methodology are listed below. Expand on them as you find useful. 

Key Steps for Performing Creative Problem-Solving:

  • Define the problem clearly.
    • Include problem sentences developed using the DuPont technique.
  • Generate as many ideas and potential solutions as possible, without judging or censoring them.
    • “All ideas are good ideas.”
  • Evaluate the potential solutions and narrow down the best options.
    • Save all promising candidate solutions for future reference and workaround resolutions if necessary.
  • Refine and develop the most promising solutions.
    • Document any additional problem for supplement resolution. 
  • Implement the solution and continuously evaluate its effectiveness.
    • Record and distribute findings and lessons learned as appropriate. 

The process should be simple and straightforward, but five steps may not solve every problem. On the other hand, some problem solutions emerge quickly after the exercise gets underway. 

Fortunately, creative problem-solving is a flexible practice, born from a foundation of openness and creativity. So, practitioners are encouraged to employ process improvement techniques to aid in the search for successful outcomes. 

A few supporting processes are introduced below. 

Popular Supporting Methods and Techniques

Various auxiliary practices have proven useful for augmenting the search for problem solutions. Some of the most popular include mind-mapping, brainstorming, reverse thinking, and SCAMPER. Each methodology is worthy of a deeper dive, expect more information in future posts. 

  • Mind-mapping: Mind-mapping is a visual tool for organizing and generating ideas. It involves creating a diagram or “map” of connected ideas and concepts, starting with a central problem or challenge and branching out to related ideas. This technique allows individuals to see the relationships between different ideas and can lead to new and innovative solutions.
  • Brainstorming: Brainstorming is a group technique for generating as many ideas as possible in a short period of time. Participants are encouraged to share their ideas, no matter how unconventional or absurd, with the goal of generating as many potential solutions as possible. Brainstorming is often used when conventional approaches have failed or when dealing with complex or novel problems.
  • Reverse thinking: Reverse thinking is a technique for finding creative solutions by reversing the problem. Instead of focusing on fixing the problem, reverse thinking involves imagining what the opposite of the problem would look like and working backwards to find a solution. This can lead to innovative and unexpected solutions that would not have been discovered through conventional problem-solving methods.
  • SCAMPER: SCAMPER is a method for transforming existing products or services into new and innovative solutions. It involves asking a series of questions about the product or service, such as “What if it were made bigger/smaller?” or “What if it were made from a different material?” The goal is to encourage creative thinking and generate new ideas for improving or transforming the existing product or service.

Creative Problem-Solving Supports Web3 Development

In the web3 environment, creative problem-solving can aid creatives and innovative types with the creation and advancement of their artistic works and projects. For example, the decentralized nature of web3 provides an opportunity for artists to connect directly with their audience and monetize their work without intermediaries taking a cut. This can lead to new and innovative business models for artists, allowing them to sell their work in new ways and reach a wider audience. Additionally, the decentralized and open-source nature of web3 can provide a collaborative platform for artists to work together on new projects, leveraging the power of the community to generate new ideas and solutions.

Add Creative Problem-Solving to your Toolkit

In conclusion, creative problem-solving is a powerful methodology for discovering solutions and fixing problems. By embracing open-mindedness, collaboration, and experimentation, we can unlock new and innovative solutions in the web3 environment and beyond.

– E

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