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Sunday, September 13

Creative Problem Solving

How many times have you found yourself saying that there is "no solution" to the problem before you - it's a dead end and leads nowhere? You feel that there is no light at the end of the tunnel and that the problem just cannot be solved? There are no solutions that you are aware of.

Are there times that you feel you have exhausted all possible options and feel the mountain before you is still as large, unconquerable and impregnable as before? When you find yourself faced with such problems, it may feel as though you are hammering against a steel mountain. The stress and anxiety of having to solve such a problem can be overwhelming.

But be of "good cheer" for there maybe some hope yet!

Learning some "creative problem solving" techniques you will be able to view your problem from a different perspective. And that perspective may just be the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel that leads to possible solutions.

To begin with, in the respect of "creative problem solving" you MUST be open minded to the fact that there may be more than one solution to the problem, you must also be open to the fact that there may be solutions to problems that you thought were unsolvable.

Now, with this optimistic mindset, we can try to be a little bit more creative in solving our problems.

1) One of the reasons that we may not able to solve the problem is that we don't really understand the problem.. Here, it is very important and an imperative to have a solid understanding of the problem and its workings in order for solving it. If you know what the problem is and how its workings, then you have a better foundation for solving the problem.

Try to make a simple statement of what the problem is. Try to understand its core components, participating entities and their relationship toward each other. Make a note of possible losses and gains from the problem.

2) Make a note of the constraints and assumptions you have possible created in your mind. Sometimes these assumptions obstruct our view of possible solutions. You will need to identify assumptions that are valid and those which need to be addressed.

3) Try to solve the problem in parts. Solve it by going from a general rule to more detailed parts of the problem. This is sometimes called the "top-down" approach. Write down questions and then come up with a one sentence solution for each of them. The solution should be a general statement of what will solve the problem. From this point you can develop the solution little by little as well as increase its complexity.

4) Critical thinking is important in these situations, but it is important that you also keep a creative and analytical voice at the back of your mind. When someone comes up with a possible solution, try to think of how you could make it work, be creative. And at the same time look for possible flaws in the solutions.

5) Remember that there may be more than one solution being developed at one time. Try to keep track of all possible solutions and their developments. Keep in mind, that there may be more than one solution to the problem.

6) The old adage "two heads are better than one" Always keep an open mind for new ideas, you can always benefit from ideas that others give, especially if that person has experience solving problems similar to yours.

Don't try and be a "lone-wolf" or a solo hero to solve the problem. If at all possible collective thought on the subject, will always be the better route.

7) Be patient, because as long as you persevere, there is always a chance that a solution will present itself.

Creative thinking in all facets of life whether it be in designing a new product or in this case, problem solving will always give you clarity and direction in bringing about the desired action.

Creative thinking exercises can also help you be a more creative problem solver.

There are may exercise available on the Internet just Google Creative thinking exercises.

One example is to write down on a piece of paper any word that comes to your mind. Now look at the word for a few moments and then write down the first two words that come to your mind. This can go on until you can build a tree of related words. This exercise helps you build analogical skills, as well as strengthen your creative processes.

So, next time you come across a problem you think you cannot solve, think again. The solution may even be staring you in the face. All it takes is a little creative thinking, some planning and a lot of hard work. -MarkCsabai

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