How to Uncover Creative Solutions

Quick Insight

You may be stopping short of finding creative solutions. 

When I was in elementary school, I went to the state problem-solving bowl (yeah, they have those, and I was one of those kids who did that instead of soccer tournaments). Here were the steps we had to do:
1. Identify 20 of the best descriptions of the problem
2. Identify the main problem
3. Identify 20 solutions
4. Pick the best solution
Note: We also received bonus points for creativity.

This second methodology forces more time in the problem identification stage than most companies likely spend. It may promote more solution generation, but I’ve been in some meetings where there was no lack of ideas on how to solve a problem.

You may think, “20 problems and solutions may be fine for a game, but it’s overkill and inefficient in my business.”

I attended an all-staff meeting at the last company I worked at where we had to stand back-to-back with another person, change one thing about our appearance, and then have the person guess what changed. After a few rounds, I thought there was nothing left to change. Yet, round after round, I could find something to change. It wasn’t always easy, but I was pushed to be more creative every time.

Here's the point: When we start to fatigue in developing options, we are forced to forge past the obvious to the creative and new.

Are 20 problems and 20 solutions too many? Maybe. But if you want creative thinking about problems and solutions, the number of ideas you need before making a decision may be higher than you think.

I wish you stamina for creative solutions. I wish you well.

- Rob Stephens

Further Insight

CFO Perspective Resources

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