Sep 10, 2013
Matt Kuikman
The Truth About Creative Problem Solving

Are you creative?

Like many other people, you might feel inclined to answer this question with a “yes” or a “no”. But what you might be surprised to learn is that when it comes to creative problem solving, everyone is capable of it.

Creative problem solving isn’t a trait; it’s a process. One of the best ways to define this process has been done by a company called FourSight.  FourSight is the developer of a research based training tool that helps individuals, teams, and organizations innovate and solve problems more effectively. In their research they were able to successfully break the creative problem solving process into four parts: Clarifying, Ideating, Developing, and Implementing.

Clarifying – In order to solve a problem, you first need to define what the problem is. Clarifying is the part of the creative process where you spend time “clarifying” what the problem is and getting all the facts and parameters you need in order to solve that problem.

Four Squares of Creative Problem Solving

Foursight LLC, www.foursightonline.com

Ideating – This is where you begin to brainstorm potential ideas or solutions that will solve the problem. The ideas generated are what you use to design the solution to the problem.

Developing – Developing is the part of the process where you’ll refine and perfect your idea/design and form it into the best workable solution.

Implementing – This is the final stage, and it’s where you deliver or execute on the solution you’ve developed. e.g. launching a new business, delivering a presentation, etc.

Right Hand vs. Left Hand

All things considered, the FourSight model for the creative process is a pretty simple concept, however, the value of the model is further revealed once you’ve taken the assessment. The FourSight Innovative assessment works by measuring individuals peak preferences in the creative process. Notice that I said “preferences”. The reason I say this is because everyone is capable of spending time in all four parts of the process, however, it’s our peak preferences that determine where we like to spend most of our time.

The best analogy for this is writing with your right or left hand. The majority of us are right or left handed. The hand that we write the most with is considered our dominant hand. That’s not to say we can’t write with our non-dominant hand, however, to do so takes additional focus and energy. The same holds true in the creative process. We all have our preferred part(s) of the process that we like to focus our energy and spend our time in, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make a conscious effort to spend time and work at focusing on the others. 

The Four Types

Foursight LLC, www.foursightonline.com

Turning Insight into Action

Once you’ve taken the FourSight assessment you will be provided with your results which will show you where your peak preferences lie in the process. People can have peak preferences in one or multiple parts of the process.  There are also people that don’t have any peak preferences, but instead show moderate energy for all 4 stages. These people are called “integrators”.  Now while it’s a good thing that integrators spend time in all 4 parts of the process, the main watch out is that they don’t carry as much energy in each of those stages. In fact because they spend time in all of the stages, you’ll sometimes also find that they are running low on energy when it comes time to implement.

Therefore knowing which peak preferences you or your team has is valuable in identifying where potential blind spots may be.

i.e. Someone that has peak preferences in ideation and implementation is likely to spend the majority of their time coming up with a lot of ideas, however thry may not address the problem correctly, and then they may go on to implement those ideas without ever having fully developed them.

The same holds true in a team or organizational dynamic. If a team is lacking any person with a particular preference they may find themselves overlooking a critical stage in the process.  Knowing your preferences and being aware of where other’s preferences lie will improve both communication and productivity within the team and ensure that the right amount of time is being spent in each area.

FourSight Training

Understanding the creative process is a great frame work for undertaking any project, and can be applied both inside and outside of the office.  If you’d like to take the FourSight assessment and have your team workshop through the creative problem solving process – I’d highly recommend talking to Bliss Training & Consulting. With over 20 years’ of experience in corporate training, they specialize in designing active learning environments that will allow your team to experience and workshop through the creative problem solving content in a customized and engaging manner.

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