Creative problem-solving (CPS) is the mental process of searching for an original and previously unknown solution to a problem. To qualify, the solution must be novel and reached independently. The creative problem-solving process was originally developed by Alex Osborn and Sid Parnes.
The process of creative problem-solving usually begins with defining the problem. This may lead to finding a simple non-creative solution, a textbook solution, or discovering prior solutions developed by other individuals. If the discovered solution is sufficient, the process may then be abandoned.
A creative solution will often have distinct characteristics that include using only existing components, or the problematic factor, as the basis for the solution. However, a change of perspective may in many cases be helpful. A solution may also be considered creative if readily available components can be used to solve the problem within a short time limit (factors typical to the solutions employed by the title character in the television series MacGyver).
If a creative solution has a broad application – that is, uses that go beyond the original intent –, it may be referred to as an innovative solution, or an innovation (some innovations may also be considered an invention).
"All innovations [begin] as creative solutions, but not all creative solutions become innovations."— Richard Fobes
Many techniques and tools employed for creating effective solutions to a problem are described in creativity techniques and problem-solving articles.
Creativity processes use these influencing factors as they support the search for ideas, problem solving and evaluation, and selection of ideas via rules, a group of people, and a creative process. The workshops are therefore based on creative idea generation techniques that follow individual steps.