Creative Approaches to Business Problem Solving

Everything really comes down to solving problems. To be successful and a leader in your field, you not only have to come up with good solutions; you need to be innovative. And that can feel like waiting for lightning to strike.

Creativity is applying imagination to address a challenge. Innovation is applying creativity to generate unique solutions. And entrepreneurship is applying innovations, scaling the ideas, by inspiring others’ imagination.

Once you understand this framework, you can put it into action, she says, and the way to innovate is to look at situations from a fresh perspective.

Creativity is applying imagination to address a challenge. Innovation is applying creativity to generate unique solutions.

Reframing a problem helps you see it as an opportunity, and Seelig offers three techniques for finding innovative solutions:
1. Rethink The Question
Start by questioning the question you’re asking in the first place. Your answer is baked into your question.

Before you start brainstorming, Seelig suggests you start “frame-storming”: brainstorming around the question you will pose to find solutions. Refocusing the question changes our len. Memorable is different than special–memorable might involve a prank, for example. Once you reframe the questions, you might decide to select the best or address them all. Each new question opens up your ability to generate new ideas.

2. Brainstorm Bad Ideas
When an individual or group is tasked with being creative, often there’s pressure to only come up with good ideas. Seelig likes to challenge teams to only think of bad ideas.

Ridiculous ideas open up the frame by allowing you to push past obvious solutions. There is no pressure to come up with ‘good’ ideas. Then, those terrible ideas can be re-evaluated, often turning them into something unique and brilliant. Once you have a list of bad ideas, brainstorm how they can become good ideas.

3. Unpack your Assumptions
Another way to reframe a problem is to challenge its perceived limitations or rules. Ask, “What are all of the assumptions of the industry?” Make a list and turn them upside down by thinking about what would happen if you did the opposite. This is a hard exercise, because a lot of our assumptions are deeply ingrained.

4. Shake up your brainstorming session
Problem solving can’t be all fun and games, and live circus performances. Eventually, your team has to sit down and hammer out solutions to the problem at hand using tried-and-true strategies. But traditional brainstorming sessions—everyone gets in a room together and tosses out a bunch of ideas—might not be the right solution. Research has shown this method can encourage groupthink and cause the most creative ideas to get lost in the shuffle.