The preference to stay as we are right now is the norm rather than exception. The uncertainty and risk associated with new things and new ideas are the main reason for the avoidance attitude. We need to adapt and change to survive. Remaining status quo is not going to bring you anywhere. Organizations need to accept the truth – either they innovate or die.

Managers who wish to survive and grow need to adopt innovation as one of their basic strategies. Innovation demands that the people in the organization learn to THINK CREATIVELY, so that they are able to bring about new ideas. We are trained to filter and sort information. This makes the decision making easy. Solutions are brought to the surface from the past experience. This limits creative and innovative solutions to our work related problems.

Managers inclination to view creativity and innovation as the concerns of artistic and R&D department is one major reason for not seizing the full power of creativity. If we are serious about enhancing the overall quality of our problem solving then we need to incorporate creative thinking when managing decision making.

Problem solving process is normally seen as a logical and rational process. Most managers failed to recognize the need to incorporate creativity. The problem solving model is generally described as involving the following steps:

  • Identify the problem
  • Gather data/information
  • Clarify/diagnose the problem
  • Develop possible solution
  • Analyze each possible solution
  • Implement and Evaluate

The creativity component becomes a dominant element during developing possible solutions (step 4). At this stage of problem solving, we need encourage divergent thinking and insist on developing a whole range of diverse ideas and solutions to the well defined problem (step 3). Problem solving through creativity in managing step 4, simply means we are able to look at new ways of solving problems. This is particularly critical when you are not satisfied with the standard solutions – the byproducts of traditional linear thinking.

To take full advantage of creative development of ideas during step 4, we must train our employees on creative problem solving techniques. Only then they will be equipped with competencies and skills to develop new ideas, when dealing with problems in the workplace. You can start with simple tools you can access using the Internet as your source. Blogs such as http://lifeskills4success.blogspot.com/ list a number of tools you can use as part of creative problem solving.

Experienced managers who are involved in creative problem solving recommends training the employees in asking the following 2 questions, when developing new ideas:

  • What else can we …….?
  • What if, ………………….?

To supplement the questions, they also recommend that we fill in the words from the SCAMPER model. The SCAMPER model, originally developed by Bob Eberle provides easy to follow prompters when you are keen to develop new responses to your problems. SCAMPER stands for:

  • Substitute
  • Combine
  • Adapt
  • Modify
  • Put to other use
  • Eliminate
  • Reverse

This would mean asking questions such as “What else can we combine or eliminate in managing the work process?”. Another option is to ask question such as, “What if we reverse the process?”. These questions invariably will bring the most new and innovative ideas and solutions to the problem. Just remember this – Creativity and innovation can be learned. After all the uncreative thinking is a learned behavior. We just have to unlearn and relearn to become more creative when managing problems at our workplace.