Creative Problem Solving
Creative problem solving is a method used in situations where knowledge and thinking are not enough. Using creativity to solve a problem can be extremely challenging, and will take large amounts of effort on the part of those who are trying to solve the problem.
Often, solutions to the problem will become apparent when the person is not focusing on the problem itself. Solutions which are creative must be reviewed and tested. Creative problem solving strategies are typically not employed by large organizations. It is more often done by small organizations or individuals.
Large organizations which are well established tend to become set in their ways. Many of them have found methods which allowed them to succeed, and feel that there is no need to use creative problem solving in order to overcome barriers. However, there are a number of problems with this assumption. What works for one institution may not work for another, and large institutions which become stuck in a certain way of doing something may halt innovation. In a nutshell, creativity is a mental operation where an individual is able to either create new concepts, or create relationships among concepts that seem unrelated.
One element which is common in many societies today is specialization. Many people are specialized in a certain field. An engineer is specialized in engineering, while a biologist specializes in biology. Many of these fields are totally disconnected from each other, and the experts only understand the field that they’ve been trained in. There is an obvious problem with this. A society in which many people are specialized creates an environment where creativity is weakened. Many of the greatest discoveries in history were made by people who were generalists, not specialists. They had a general knowledge of a wide variety of different subjects.
It is their general knowledge that allowed them to come up with creative solutions to problems, because they were able to make connections between objects that appeared to be unrelated. When people work in specialized fields which are disconnected from other fields, the ability for a society to advance its technology will be slower than it should be. However, when people of different fields begin working together, or become skilled in a diverse range of subjects, they can begin using creative problem solving techniques to overcome problems.
Using creativity to solve problems can lead to what is called synergy. Synergy can be defined as two or more elements which are combined to create something which is more powerful than their individual abilties. To give an example of creative problem solving and synergy, and I will use the robotics industry. For many years, robotics engineers did not deal with biologists, and biologists did not touch robotics. Because of this, both fields were limited. However, many robotics engineers realized that they would need to understand biology to solve certain problems in robotics, and they begin to work with biologists on a number of important issues related to the field. Because of this, robotics has made rapid advances within a short period of time.
To summarize the previous paragraph, the robotics engineers had problems. The problems that they had was trying to figure out how to make robots more advanced, lifelike, and intelligent. The solution to the problem didn’t come from advances in robotics. The solution to the problem would come from combining the field of robotics with biology. This is the perfect example of both synergy and creative problem solving. The merging of the two fields allowed for rapid advances to be made that would have been difficult or impossible otherwise.
Creativity is directly connected to innovation, and it is innovation that creates new industries. Being tied down to one field of knowledge will not allow you to solve problems in a creative fashion. However, being able to gain and apply knowledge from multiple fields simultaneously is what will increase your ability to solve problems in a creative manner. It is not just enough to gain knowledge. You must be able to creatively use that knowledge to solve certain problems. The problem with many schools and colleges is that they place an emphasis on memorizing facts instead of creativity or critical thinking. Being able to memorize something is not an effective tool for helping you learn. It is only useful for passing tests.