In this video, JoyPowered® author/podcast host JoDee Curtis shares her advice for becoming a creative problem solver.
Hi, I’m JoDee Curtis, co host of the JoyPowered® podcast. Today, I’d like to talk about creative problem solving.
In the book “Flight to Creativity,” Dr. Min Basadur says that most adults use less than 10% of their creativity on a daily basis. Less than 10%! Is that true of you?
Creativity is a skill. That means we can develop it and that we can grow it. It’s not a talent. It’s not a strength. It’s not something we were born with. It’s not a requirement for hire, even though I see that on lots of job ads. I’m fascinated by this topic, because I myself was trained as an accountant and worked as an accountant for nine years. Not exactly a profession you think of as being creative. As a matter of fact, creative accountants go to prison. Right?
So what stops us from being creative? I think it’s a multitude of different things. We focus on the short term versus visualizing on the future. We worry about expressing ignorance, or sometimes we simply know too much that blindsides us from thinking differently about it. We have a fear of making mistakes, or we assume, make too many assumptions. Or we have a fear of being different or we get stuck on the rules or what has been done in the past. I like to think of it as a four step process: Clarify, Ideate, Develop, and Implement.
So let’s start with clarify. We identify the goal or the challenge in front of us, describe it, and generate data around it to get a clear understanding of the challenge. We can sharpen our awareness and create challenge questions. And I like to start always with the question how might we. As opposed to asking how can we solve this, how might we solve this is a more inviting question to ask. So many times when we’re in a group or working on a team, we jump to thinking directly about how can we solve this problem right away without clarifying the problem itself. I’ll give you a quick example of that. There was a Harvard Business Review case study about a hotel that was getting a lot of complaints about slow elevators. So they put together a team that came up with some very expensive ideas on how to fix or implement or build a brand new elevator, when someone said, how…how might we put up some mirrors or artwork where the customers are standing to wait on the elevator. And voila, no more comments about slow elevators. So the perception of the wait times suddenly became shorter.
Step number two, ideate or brainstorm. Think about suspending all judgment, accepting all ideas, going for some wild ideas to begin with, then combining and building on those ideas, going for quantity. So many times we stop too early, and the best ideas might come later. And shift your view. Think about the problem from a different perspective. If you’re the owner, think about it from the customer’s perspective or from the salesperson’s perspective or from the person on the floor doing it. And stop those killer phrases like, “that’s a good idea, but it’s against policy,” “it works in theory, but not in reality,” “it costs too much,” “it’s not in the budget,” “we don’t have enough time,” “it’s not our job,” “that’s not our problem,” “we’ve never done it that way.” Right? You might need to incorporate some of those thoughts as you get down the line, because maybe it’s not in the budget, but think big at the very beginning.
Step number three is to develop or evaluate those ideas. Come up, then, once you’ve listed all the ideas, with what are the best ideas, and then put your evaluation criteria in. Like…could be lots of different things, but maybe it is budget, it’s resources, it’s time. Do you have a year to solve this problem or do you have two hours to solve this problem?
And then step number four is to implement. Don’t create a great creative problem solving process and not implement the solution. So we have to put that in action. And guess what? We might create some new challenges or some new problems because of that.
Some key things I do every day to increase my creativity. Number one, I live my strengths. The more we live our strengths, the more likely we are to be more creative. The more creative we are, the more often we are able to find uses to use our strengths. So it’s a cycle. Number two, I get eight hours of sleep per night. Numerous studies and research out there talking about the importance of getting a good night’s sleep. Number three, I read a lot and I create new experiences for myself by traveling or simply seeing new…new scenery.
So check out the JoyPowered® podcast wherever you listen to your podcasts, and we have a podcast on creative problem solving where you can hear lots more information, or go directly to getjoypowered.com to find out more. Thanks and make it a great day.