What are the 8 Steps To Actually Solving Problems?
You might find it odd to think about creativity and process in the same breathe. Fear not. It is true. Creativity & Innovation can be a process.
Below we quickly discuss the 8 steps in creatively solving problems. This is a high level exerpt from our book, Simplex: A Flight To Creativity.
The 8 steps below can help you formulate the idea that a process can lead to creativity and action better than taking a shot in the dark of what might work.
When you consider your organization, think of the countless times you acted on a whim or as a result of a single meeting only to find that maybe there was a greater need to think through a solution.
That's what an innovation process can help you with, it can prevent you from experiencing the unwanted.
Here are the 8 steps to Creative Problem Solving
Step 1 - Problem Finding
Problem finding means sensing, anticipating and seeking out problems, changes, trends, needs and opportunities for improvement, inside and outside the organization. A skilled problem finder takes the initiative and welcomes change and imperfection as a chance to improve and compete. With an attitude of "constructive discontent" and with little direction, this individual seeks out problems rather than simply reacting to them. He or she is comfortable with "fuzzy" situations.
Step 2 - Fact Finding
Fact finding involves gathering information about a fuzzy situation without prematurely judging its relevance. A skilled fact finder avoids unwarranted assumptions, examines a situation from a wide variety of viewpoints, listens to and accepts others' versions of the facts, extends effort to dig out hidden information, and shows no reluctance to ask simple questions. Establishing what is not known is as vital as determining what is known or thought to be known. Only later does he or she worry about choosing the most relevant facts.
Step 3 - Problem Defining
We can't stress the importance of problem definition enough.
Problem defining means composing clear, insightful challenges from a few key facts. These challenges reveal directions for solutions. An individual skilled in defining problems can create unusual ways to view them. He or she can broaden the problem's scope by asking why it needs to be solved (the intent) and narrow its scope by asking what stands in the way of solving it (the stumbling block). This individual creates optional ways of formulating the problem until a superior angle has been developed.
Step 4 - Idea Finding
Idea finding means creating a variety of ways to solve a defined problem. A skilled idea finder is never content with a single good idea but continues to hunt for more. He is able to build on and complete fragments of other ideas. Seemingly radical, even "impossible," ideas can be turned into more unusual but workable solutions. A few of the more promising ideas are selected for evaluation and further development into possible solutions.
Step 5 - Evaluation Ideas
Evaluating and selecting involves converting selected ideas into practical solutions. An individual skilled in evaluation and selection considers plenty of criteria in order to take an unbiased look at the ideas. He or she avoids leaping to conclusions based on a single criterion or on unrelated hidden motives. Interesting but flawed solutions are creatively improved, then re-evaluated.
Step 6 - Action Planning
Action planning means creating specific action steps that will lead to successful implementation of a solution. An individual skilled in action planning can see the end result in a specific, concrete way that motivates people to act on the plan.
Step 7 - Acceptance
Gaining acceptance means understanding that even the best ideas and
plans can be scuttled by resistance to change. Someone skilled in gaining acceptance creates ways to show people how a particular solution benefits them, and how possible problems with the solution can be minimized.
Step 8 - Taking Action
Taking action means "doing" the steps in the action plan, and continually revising and adapting the plan as things change in order to ensure that the solution is successfully implemented. An individual skilled in taking action avoids getting mired in unimportant details and minor roadblocks on the way to implementing the solution. He or she does not fear imperfect solutions, knowing that even perfect solutions can be revised and continuously improved (think of the microwave oven).
Bonus Step - Back To Step 1
Because this change-making process is like a wheel, it actually has a ninth step: the first step of the next rotation. Each solution that you implement automatically changes things. It results in a new array of problems, trendsand opportunities for improvement. Thus, we're back to Step 1.
When you work with your organization, and follow the steps above, you can drastically improve the innovation in your organization.
As we have worked with countless businesses over 40 years, not only have we discovered that innovation can be improved by adhering to a process, but innovation can also be improved by understanding how the individual members of your TEAM fit into the innovation process.
Believe it or not, the people in your organization also have a prefered style when they do solve problems. Some like action, some like to analyze and some have a propensity to come up with wild and wonderful ideas.
Below is a quick map of the preferred styles of innovation. We get into this in more detail when we work with our clients of course.
Do you know the style of your team?
By understanding the process of creativity and innovation and where your TEAM Members fit into this process, your organization can be quicker to market, and develop far more exciting opportunities for your organization.