You already know the basics of Creative Problem Solving (CPS) because it's coded into your DNA. Just as running is. But, like running, with practice and coaching, the skill can be improved.
CPS is not an "invented" process. Rather, it was observed and described by watching for the repeated patterns followed by good creative individuals and effective problem solving groups. Since that observation over 60 years ago by Alex Osborn and Sid Parnes, researchers and practitioners have developed ways to help individuals, teams and organizations enhance fluency and speed with this process. The partners at New & Improved continue to be significant contributors to the development of this field of practice. Our work on innovation strategy is intended to make CPS live well in organizations.
As currently articulated, the process has 6 stages, each with 2 steps. Each stage begins with a divergent step, following the "Rules for Divergent Thinking" (commonly called brainstorming rules). Upon the completion of an effective divergent thinking session, the stage always then has a convergent step, following the guidelines for convergence.
Below, you'll see two images describing the 6 stages and a diagnostic question to help you determine which stage you are in. Additionally, you'll see the guidelines for divergence and convergence, as well as specific tools and methods that we've found useful for the various stages.
Specifics on the tools is beyond what we want to cover in this post, but many of them are described in our whitepapers which are searchable. Send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we can send you the cheat sheets as a .pdf.
Bottom line: the world needs as many of us as possible to be skilled at leveraging this natural ability to its maximum effect. As a global community, we have a lot of gnarly problems to solve and opportunities to pursue that will make the future better for everyone. Keep learning. We'll do the same, and share what we find useful via this blog, our Facebook Page, our LinkedIn page and Twitter. At least that's it for now.
The first three stages: (Click on the image for a more clear view)
The second three stages: (Click on the image for a more clear view)