Real leaders, who inspire and become a role model, are rare in today’s hyper competitive, global and financially-driven markets. The road to transformation and success is paved with difficulties and obstacles. All successful entrepreneurs experienced just as many obstacles as successes. Many of them stated to spend more time addressing workarounds and correcting damages than growing the business.

Even as businesses grow, the leaders are rewarded for their ability to solve big problems smartly and maintain grace under troublesome situations and pressure. This is because the problems don’t end, even if a business has the product that earns millions of dollars a month.  If you are leading a business, in either owner or managerial capacity, it is imperative to solve big problems creatively and efficiently.

Problem solving is important whether you are a one-person department or have a big team.  Scott Gatz, the CEO at LGBTQ Publisher[1], states that problem solving can become daunting as many leaders, especially entrepreneurs, often don’t possess experience to be creative during big problem resolution process. This article shares the top 5 creative ways to solve big problems.

The Creative Problem Solving

The creative problem solving goes beyond brainstorming. It is a well-define process that helps leaders all through the problem-solving process, from defining the problem to implementing the solutions.

Alex Osborn, the founder of the Creative Education Foundation[2], developed the creative problem solving (CPS) model in the 1940s. Though it’s an old concept, it is still considered a valuable method for problem solving. Creative problem solving is the process based on resolving big problems when traditional thinking and problem-solving methods fail. It motivates the leaders to explore fresh perspectives about the problem and come up with creative or innovative solutions. This way, the leader can create a plan to overcome challenges and reach their goals. The core principles of CPS Model include:

  • Balancing convergent and divergent thinking
  • Ask problems like questions
  • Suspend or defer judgement
  • Emphasize on “Yes, and”, not “No, but”.

Using the CPS model as the creative problem-solving approach, following are the top 5 creative ways to solve big problems:

  1. Assume that the Problem is NOT BIG

You may find it unrealistic, but it is one of the most creative ways many successful leaders have been using to solve big problems. Distance yourself from the problem mentally, assuming that you are solving it not for yourself but someone else or the deadline to solve the problem is far ahead.

How does it work?

It motivates your mind to dig a bigger picture and open your wisdom to discover approaches and ways you might have missed if you were taking the problem too narrowly and under pressure. Art Markman, a psychology professor from the University of Texas, also supports this notion. Moreover, this approach has been referred by experts as creating “psychological distance” and the study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology also revealed that this approach helps leaders come up with more creative solutions[3].

  1. Visualize Dilemma

If you see it, you can better analyze it. Take a piece of paper and write down your timelines, sketch out pictures or anything that can help you determine solutions. Draw out diverse routes to see which one is the shortest, most scenic and includes your preference. For instance, if you need to reduce your department’s budget, sketch your department’s chart that shows each job and its functions, to clearly see redundant positions that could be merged or eliminated.

How does it work?

We often make some assumptions in our unconscious. Drawing or sketching those assumptions helps you see your hidden assumptions. While thinking through a big problem, it is very common to skip the details that appear when you actually sketch them.

  1. Turn the Brain Off

Sticking to your desktop or laptop for hours will not help you solving a big problem. Rather, take a break and go, for instance, for a run. If you are home, take a bath. Experts relate it with the fact that Archimedes invented the term Eureka after he found out the Principe of Buoyancy during a shower.

How does it work?

Psychology says that insights and ideas often come in the mind when people are on a break from extensively thinking about the problem. The creativity researcher, Tim Hurson, who is the author of Think Better: An Innovator’s Guide to Productive Thinking, reveals that this approach lets mind work in the unconscious mode, pulling together small chunks of information about the issue that were already there but not being clicked[4].

  1. Start when you are not at your best

It implies working on a problem when your brain is not in its most active state.  For instance, if you often feel foggy in the morning, get started on the problem right after you get up. Or if your favorite thing to do at night is to hand out with friends, at that time, take some time to think about possible solutions.

How does it work?

Having lesser than required focus actually helps leaders come up with a unique solution to a big problem. For instance, in a test like SATs, having a set of answers for every question, you do your best when you feel freshest, but when it is about thinking innovatively, significant amount of brainpower can really obstruct your ability, as per the study published in the Journal Thinking & Reasoning[5].

  1. Move from your unusual space

While thinking about a big problem, try to sit somewhere that is not your usual place. For instance, go to nearby coffee shop that you never tried before or just sit in an empty conference room.

How does it work?

Take it like a field trip of a school, to understand. The idea was to provide you with new stimuli and expand your mind while working towards the same problem. A change in your environment just often becomes what you need to open your mind. Psychologists support this notion through studies that reveal that people subconsciously relate places with their experiences, which can be positive in some situations but can adversely affect the ability to think in a creative way. Also, an introduction to a new stimulus often triggers innovative ideas and thoughts[6].

Try these creative problem-solving ways that you have never tried before and start solving your big problems in a creative way.



[3] ] K. H. Kim, “Can Only Intelligent People Be Creative? A MetaAnalysis,” Journal of Secondary Gifted Education, vol. 16, no. 2-3, pp. 57–66, 2005.




Originally published by Author on June 4 2019


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Bryant Nielson is heavily involved in the Corporate Training and Leadership and Talent space. He currently is the Managing Director for CapitalWave Inc and the training division, Financial Training Solutions. He brings a diverse corporate experience of organizational development, learning and talent development, and corporate training, that also includes personal coaching of top sales individuals and companies of all sizes. For the prior 4 years, Bryant was the Managing Director and Leadership and Talent Manager for Lengthen Your Stride! LLC. In this position, Nielson was the developer of all of the courses for MortgageMae University (MMU), the Realtor Development Center (RDC), and of Lengthen Your Stride! (LYS). In that position, he developed material, refined over many years of use and active training, and condensed the coursework and training to be high impact, natural learning, and comprehensive. Bryant has over 27 years of Senior Management experience encompasses running his own Training and mortgage firm, in New York City. He strongly believes that the corporate training is not to be static but should 'engage and inspire' students to greater productivity and performance.