April 05, 2011

Creative Problem Solving Skills

Many people believe that creative problem solving is a skill we cannot learn, and it is only a privilege of talented few to ever master it.

Since such statement does not sit well in me, I made a decision to study this subject. I have spent the last couple of years gathering information from various blogs, books, articles, interviewing people, as well as personally observing behavior of the people around me.

This is my summary conclusion so far (this is far from perfect, and I am still striving to gain more experience and understanding, and I am not writing all of the details here) on how we can develop our creative problem solving skill:

Believe (truly, truly believe) we are a creative problem solver

The point here is, once we close our minds and lock ourselves in the 'no-hope' box , there is no way we can achieve any improvement in this field. A wise man once said, vision and belief always come before the actual achievement and realization. That's how we should start
  1. Understand that there are always more than one way of solving a problem / creating an idea.
  2. Set our goal based on what is possible, not based on what's already out there / past performance (a.k.a: don't put our intelligence and brain into a box).
  3. Free up our mental, cultural, social boundaries and thinking to the point of letting any thoughts flow and manifest.
  4. Be specific and straightforward in stating our ideas - that way we can build on them and come up with the final, most complete, most sound concept.
Open our minds to things we never know before - things we do not even know possible

diagram 1
If you are sailing from Jakarta to Cape of Good Hope, which you never visit before, you will navigate your way with a map. Like diagram 1.

diagram 2
Because you are not familiar with some of the path, you decide to fold your map and only show areas you know, like diagram 2
Will you arrive at your destination?

"Thinking logically" and solving problems / creating plans based historical past is like doing this to the map.

Be aware of 'terminology trap' - Free our minds from terms, words, semantics that describes a situation or an object

 Have you ever realized that everything around us does not actually come with any name / terms? Cars, mugs, ants, elephants - they are all named by human. This is OK for convenience of calling these things, but as a result, we sometimes get 'stuck' in past characteristics usually associated with the name.

diagram 3
For example, diagram 3 is a picture of a swan. Many many many years ago, when people heard the term 'swan', they can only associated it to a beautiful animal with wings, covered with white, soft feathers.

No one can accept the fact that there is a possibility of a swan with black feathers, until 1697 in West Australia.

Even now, if we do a quick survey with people around us and ask, "Quick, don't think too long. Answer this: What color is a swan?", we will get more than 60% of the people who answer, "white".

This is what I called 'terminology trap'. If we are aware of this and good at catching it before it traps us, we are well on our way to becoming a good creative problem solver.

4 komentar:

  1. Good stuff. Not too detailed though.

  2. The Swan is white though - how is that a terminology trap, more than 80% of the Swan is White.

  3. It is true that black swans are only the minority, so it is normal if people automatically think a swan is white. But we are not asking 'what color is a swan *usually*?', we simply ask, 'what color is a swan?', in which they should ask first, 'where?'. In Western Australia, there are some black swans.

    Some word games perhaps, but that is the point. Words and names are not the object.

    So let's say someone told us,'I hit a swan last night because I did not see it in the middle of the road.' If we cannot process the fact that the swan might not be white (i.e. easy to spot), we will immediately blame the guy instead of actually finding out what happened.

  4. One way of triger your creativity is by start complaining about simple things. Be a winger and take your complaint further.