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Creative problem-solving (CPS)[1] 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.[1][2] The creative problem-solving process was originally developed by Alex Osborn and Sid Parnes.

Creative solution types

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.[1][3]

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.[4] 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."[5]

— Richard Fobes

Techniques and tools

Many techniques and tools employed for creating effective solutions to a problem are described in creativity techniques and problem-solving articles.

Creative problem-solving technique categories

Idea generation techniques

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.[6]

  1. The user as the starting point
  2. Interdisciplinary team
  3. Iterative process
  4. Creative environment. In the design thinking process, the 'customer's needs are first determined through an iterative process and a question is defined, then creative solutions and ideas are generated through brainstorming and visualized via prototypes for user feedback.[7]
  1. Not too resource-intensive
  2. Suitable for workshops
  3. High growth potential
  4. Don't require existing structures or certain age of the company

See also

Related articles

Related lists


  1. ^ a b c Definition of creative problem solving on Alex Osborn's (inventor of the term and process of brainstorming) Creative Education Foundation website.
  2. ^ Michigan State University. "Creative problem solving for teachers".[dead link]
  3. ^ Problem definition[permanent dead link] in presentation on creative problem-solving, on the University of Arizona website
  4. ^ Mike Vence about the 9 dots as a corporate promotion of creative thinking at the Walt Disney Company (Creative Thinking Association website)
  5. ^ a b c d Fobes, Richard (1993). The Creative Problem Solver's Toolbox: A Complete Course in the Art of Creating Solutions to Problems of Any Kind. ISBN 0-9632221-0-4.
  6. ^ a b "Idea Generation Techniques, Definition, Approach & Workshop". Digital Leadership. 2022-03-11. Retrieved 2022-03-16.
  7. ^ "What is Design Thinking? Definition, Explanation & Process". Digital Leadership. 2021-08-09. Retrieved 2022-03-16.

Further reading