Creative Problem Solving: A 21st Century Workplace Skill

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Process Skills: Applied Problem Solving

Developing Solutions: Transforming Good Ideas Into Great Solutions

Document, Video

If you’ve ever experienced the “AHA!” moment of coming up with a particularly great idea, you know how tempting it can be to rush into action. While creative people do love taking risks, too much risk is not necessarily a good thing. Good ideas require nurturing, deliberation, and critical thinking to successfully transform them into great solutions. While this is the third step in the four-part Creative Problem Solving Process, it is also a helpful standalone skill. The skill practiced in this unit will help you to avoid those fateful words “Guess I should have thought that through a bit more before I…”

A picture shows 7 identical bulbs arranged in a single row. The fourth bulb alone is lit, while the other bulbs remain unlit.

Source: View Stock/View Stock/via Getty Images

To develop a solution, first, reframe your idea into a statement that describes what you’re thinking about doing. Use the following statement starter: “What I see myself doing is…”

Now, you can begin a process of critically assessing your idea—viewing it in a positive light, but also realistically examining possible issues that you might need to address. Watch out for self-censorship—that little voice in your head that tries to tell you the idea won’t work. Instead, try to see ways the idea might be improved.

Suggestion: Read the Topic Understanding Convergent Thinking: Developing Effective Critical Thinking from the Executive Skills: Thinking About Thinking section to learn more about a mindset that will be especially helpful in narrowing down your ideas to find the most optimal solution, and then develop that solution.

Here is a tool perfectly designed to take a good initial idea and to craft it into a robust and workable solution. If you already completed the “Convergent Thinking: Developing Effective Critical Thinking” unit, you’ve already given this tool a test-drive. Now, it’s time to put it to use for your own solution! Download this worksheet for a developing solutions exercise called POINt—it stands for Plusses, Opportunities, Issues, and New thinking.

Watch this animation for a story about the power of developing solutions.

Video 1. Developing Solutions: The Invention of the Popsicle


Further Reading

Firestien, R. L. (2020). Leading the creative problem-solving process [online course].
FourSight, Inc. (2016). FourSight tool cards: Catalysts for clarifying, ideating, developing and implementing. FourSight, LLC.
Miller, B., Vehar, J., Firestien, R., Thurber, S., & Nielsen, D. (2011). Creativity unbound: An introduction to creative process. FourSight, LLC.
Puccio, G. J., Mance, M., & Murdock, M. C. (2011). Creative leadership: Skills that drive change. SAGE.