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  • Carol Wong

Creative Problem-Solving


How do you typically solve a problem? Are you satisfied with your problem-solving skills? Do you have a structured process for solving a problem?


Given our busy daily work routines, we will tend to jump straight into finding the solution to the problem. We will review the facts and figures presented to understand the problem, and we will then quickly identify the solution. Such a problem-solving method is what we always use based on known facts and figures.


We often use our left brain of rational and structured business thinking to deal with well-defined problems that must be solved. Our decision making would tend to be made based on an analysis of available theoretical data. Our bosses have a very low tolerance for failures or mistakes, and hence we have a very low tolerance of risk and ambiguity.


Today's world is unlike the world of the past. We all are living in a world of high volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (VUCA). There are a lot more unknown risks and challenges. From this other extreme perspective, we could very well exercise our creative thinking by using our right brain. Without specific data or insights, we could deal with undefined problems based on our emotions and intuition. We decide on solutions based on our perception. Of course, we do not know for sure whether the solutions would work or not. We have a higher tolerance for failures or mistakes.


What if I tell you that we can combine both left and right brains in creative problem-solving. How can we do this? We can use both the left and right brains in design thinking. The human-centered approach allows us to use our emotions and intuition while maintaining rationale and structure. We can combine data with deep insights into human emotions and experience. Human emotions tend to be more complex and difficult to be made known. Furthermore, quantifiable data and metrics about human emotions are not made easily accessible.


Therefore, the design thinking process involves iterating between analysis and synthesis for us to reframe and question defined problems. A defined problem is only the start of the process of creative problem-solving. The design thinking process allows for divergent and convergent providing us with the opportunity to spark our creativity. The iterative ideation and rapid experimentation allow for failures or mistakes. Failures or mistakes are learnings for decision making.


By adopting a design thinking approach to problem-solving, we will be more focused on the human emotional needs of the people we are solving the problem. We will not have the preconceived idea that we have the right solution for the people based on known facts and figures.


Start your creative problem-solving by having a beginner's mindset.

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