Creative Thinking

by Jayne Cormie

Creative problem solving

Alex Osborne, the creator of brainstorming, identified a six-stage creative problem-solving process:

  1. Objective setting – what is the goal, wish or challenge upon which you want to work?
  2. Fact finding – this stage involves finding out as much information as possible about the problem. It is worth checking your assumptions about the problem at this stage in order to challenge the mind-sets involved. What’s the situation or background? What are all the facts, questions, data and feelings that are involved?
  3. Problem definition – this involves clarifying the problem to be worked on; in other words, what is the problem or issue that really needs to be focused on? The problems may be obvious; if not, they can be identified using trigger questions such as the ones below:
  • What would our customers want us to improve?
  • What small problems do we have which could grow into bigger ones?
  • How can we improve quality?
  • What are our competitors doing that we could do?
  • What is frustrating and irritating?
  1. Idea generation – this involves generating as many ideas and solutions as possible; in other words, what are all the possible solutions to the problem? You can use the creative thinking tools described in the page on The tools to think creatively.
  2. Solution finding (idea evaluation) – this stage involves selecting and strengthening the solution. You can use the idea evaluation tools described in the page on Processing ideas.
  3. Action – this stage involves planning for action and implementing the solution.

By working through the six stages of the creative problem-solving process, you will ensure that you tackle the most significant problems with the best solutions available to you.

You can also look at the topic on Problem Solving.

Every problem contains the seeds of its own solution.