Stuck in a Rut or Out of the Box Thinking?

Learn to sculpt your work with CPS: Top 5 Employability Skills of the future workforce

CPS stands for Creative Problem Solving. Where the term ‘Creativity’ can be fun and stimulating for a few, it can be truly intimidating for others. In fact, the question also arises that on the highly populated planet of ours, what are the chances of anyone having a truly original thought? While it might look like the answer is ‘hardly any’, the truth remains that creative thinking isn’t about as much of a ‘never thought of or discovered before’ idea as it is about ‘the way of interpretation of those innumerable thoughts’ to come out of a situation with a positive outcome. Why do you think writers often read so much? It stimulates their thinking by the ideas discussed, images built, and the problems posed. None of the best writers known to the world copy these. They reflect upon them, analyse them, and seek different solutions to them. Hence, the argument is clear that if you are a creative problem solver, you seek practical fact-driven answers, but with a twist that situation desires by reflecting on every solution, especially the unconventional ones. If that sounds like a great skill to possess both for personal and professional growth, then it is the time to hone it!

The good news is that whether or not you are a creative person, you can hone the skill by mastering the conceptualisation of the whole process. Some of the traits of a creative problem-solver might already be there in you. To analyse your process of decision making or arriving at a solution that fits into the above category or not, answer the following questions:

  1. Do you reflect on a given situation by keeping an open mind?
  2. Do you analyse the situation from all possible angles?
  3. Do you collaborate with concerned parties involved in the problem-situation, and ask questions that stimulate logic-driven answers?
  4. In the face of an issue, does your mind seek and jump to new methods of resolution rather than remaining conventional?
  5. Is the solution you are arriving at turning the problem into a positive outcome? There are always two faces on a coin for people who see black and white. Can you look beyond, and draw your own?
  6. Does brainstorming, analytical thinking, planning and communication help you manage your time and issues better at work?
  7. After arriving at the right solution, can you create a detailed execution plan, and delegate tasks to your team?

If you do all of this, then you are a creative problem solver, and a great asset to your organisation already. It would be pertinent to foreground at this point that according to the latest World Economic Forums Future of Jobs Report, 50% of us employed today will need some level of reskilling by 2025, and that soft skills such as critical thinking and problem-solving are the most sought-after traits in employees followed by active learning, flexibility, resilience, and stress tolerance. It answers the question, why do we need to work on them today? CPS is a skill that is highly valued by employers and organizations in the 21st century. It can help you stand out from the crowd and achieve your career aspirations.

For adults working already, it is important to pay attention to drifting thoughts as well. Paying close attention to where your mind wanders during the day, and investigating these thoughts a little deeper may lead to an entirely new solution to the problem lurking for a long time. The most innovative entrepreneurs tell us that some of our creative ideas will always result in failure. So, one thing along the way one needs to learn is to accept mistakes and put them to good use by learning from them. If Einstein said that creativity is intelligence having fun, then why not sometimes try ideas just for fun. Learn a new language, cook a recipe you have never made before, write a short story, read a book from a genre you haven't tried yet – all this boosts your creative side! A multi-dimensional thinker would be working around buzz words such as analytics, meditation, cooperation, cohesion, and the likes.

The standard creative problem-solving is a framework within itself that can be broken down into the following steps:

  • Obtain information: The primary stage where one clarifies a goal or problem and gathers as much information and unbiased input as possible. Customer surveys, employee comments and research data are few of the sources.

  • Identify relationships: Research and identification leads to looking for relationships between each point. Sometimes, you might find that your problem or goal has changed. This is the point of putting creative brainstorming or mind mapping to challenge the parameters of the problems and current solutions. Ask yourself "why a certain activity 'X' led to a  'Y' result?"

  • Create a Solution: Create several hypotheses to solve your problem and try the one you think can be fully implemented. Experiment with different scenarios using A/B testing.

  • Consider Abstraction: Think about the solution from an abstraction point of view. When a creative director in an advertising agency has to design a campaign for a product, he thinks about the emotions of people associated with that product like romance, taste, health, joy etc.

  • Implement: After abstract and logical thinking, it is time to put it into action. Evaluate your results, and depending on the outcome, repeat the steps. You will realize with repeated practice that there are multiple solutions to a problem.

For the students who are preparing for an interview, if the interviewer asks you, "Give an example of a time you used logic to solve a problem?", then use the STAR method to answer. STAR stands for: Situation, Task, Action and Result. Avoid the mistake of boasting about the result directly, and instead walk them through the situation that needed problem solving, your task at hand, the course of action you took which was logical and creative, finally leading them to see the result as astute and creative evaluation of inputs you had in the situation.

Hence, creative problem solving is a skill that everyone can benefit from, whether they are dreamers, realists, or critics. The first step is to overcome the mental barriers that limit your imagination. Then, you can use your creativity to find solutions that are innovative and effective.

About the Author

Dr Suman Siwach is an author, Director (ELT) Training & Development at Youniversity Prep, Cambridge Learning Partner, Hyderabad. Suman is a Ph.D. & university Gold Medallist in English Literature. She is a Quora Top writer (2018), a certified IELTS & Soft Skills trainer with vast experience. Her book "Gazala: A Hopeful Tale from a War-Torn World" has been featured on international book recommendation websites such as bookskibo travel fiction and has won "Bharat Vibhushan" award from Editorial board of "National Book of Records".

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  • A very well written and informative article about Creative Problem Solving.. A must read for people of all age groups.. Heartiest Congratulations and looking forward to more of such work from Dr Suman..
  • Informative and absolutely engaging article about Creative Problem Solving skills (CPS).. A must read for people from all age groups.. looking forward to more such articles from the Author..
  • A must read article for those who want to develop Creative problem solving skills....
  • Mrs. (Dr). Suman, a contemporary writer, who just not only writes but has an insight in the originality of contents,how to voice up the thoughts into powerful writing. Making writing a powerful tool to address the unsaid facts and emotions involved in the best possible and powerful ways. Mind stimulating, powerful writing and originality are her great skills. This article is again very very informative and insightful when one wants to really want to pen down some original and creative writing. I m sure the readers will benefit with this article.. read and check out urself readers!!!!
  • CPS is important skill to correctely examine & tackle the problem. This has been well explained by the writer. Everyone uses limited CPS elements in day to day problem solving. CPS contribution has been well examined & suggested ways to apply in problem solving by the writer. It was useful article to recollect the CPS aspects in problem solving.
  • Very eloquently put. As one grows in his/her role in any organisation CPS plays a big role and this article helps one to understand how to consciously think about and develop that skill. Looking forward to more such articles from Dr Suman.
  • Sumanji, A thought provocative article enriched with apt content. Dr. Ravi kumar
  • Very captivating article written by Author. Must read for all age groups who actually want to grow in any profession with creative thinking.