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Creative Problem-Solving Is More Fun Than You’d Expect

Creative problem-solving is fun! It can also provide unique and effective solutions. Students encountering difficulties at school can feel like they simply do not have what it takes to overcome the problems they face, whether in Math, English, or Physical Education classes. However, imaginative analysis skills are much more accessible, effective, and downright enjoyable than you might think. Educate.Radiate.Elevate. believes that all students can unlock their hidden potential through dedicated practice and the application of problem-solving tools. 

creative problem-solving

What Is Creative Problem-Solving?

Creative problem-solving (CPS) is a method of identifying, defining, and solving difficult situations by locating potential opportunities and using them to your advantage. The process invites you to discover innovative angles on the issue so that you can strategize effectively to gain the results you are looking for.  For example, a student struggling to master a new process in math class could use CPS to come up with songs or acronyms to assist with memorization of the steps or a student trying to remember a sequence of historical events could act them out or create a visual timeline.

Finding unexpected solutions to difficult problems can sometimes be regarded as the purview of “geniuses.” However, nothing could be further from the truth. Everyone has the intelligence necessary for innovative thinking. It is a part of all the activities people naturally enjoy. You actually creatively problem-solve all the time in your daily life! In fact, creative problem-solving is crucial to many everyday activities like art, sports, relationships, and video games. 

Problem-solving can be found in any act of human cognition. Fundamentally, the brain has evolved to make sense of its surroundings and calculate the most effective and energy-efficient response for the body. That’s where creativity comes in: individuals who only pay attention to the most obvious answer lose out significantly in comparison to those who make the most of their capacities and environment. Who is more likely to succeed, even in a low-stakes situation such as playing a game of chess? Will it be the player who only looks at the initial threat that his opponent makes in his first move? Or will it be the player who considers all the elements present, including the mindset of his opponent and the multitude of capacities of the chess pieces on the board? Life is more difficult than a game of chess, but the essential principle remains the same. Addressing problems in a creative way pays off!

Plus, employers are always looking for creative problem-solvers. In their 2016 report, Payscale noted, “60 percent of managers feel critical thinking/problem solving is the soft skill lacking the most among recent college graduates.” It is not hard to see why managers would seek this vital skill.  The workplace offers many challenges, such as managing a combative teammate, fixing design flaws, or determining why a particular strategy fell through. Leadership that prioritizes innovative thinking is more equipped to handle challenges as they come, streamline processes, cultivate an environment of trust, and balance appropriate risk. It is no wonder that creative problem-solving is such a boon to professionals!

creative problem-solving

How To Creatively Problem-Solve

It can be easy to give up on problems, especially when they are confusing or stressful. But you can take charge and do what others are often unwilling to do: think creatively! Approaching obstacles with a sense of openness, observation, and ingenuity means that you are much less likely to self-sabotage and give up before it is appropriate. When you let your creativity flow, you are placed into a position of self-perpetuating achievement, as one victory of insight begins to lead to another. This can be seen in any academic endeavor, whether you’re exploring different methods to solve a math problem or generating a topic for an essay. The “aha!” moment is the key to unlocking your task and seeing which method or topic is best. Wondering how to make the most of this transformative life skill? Here are four problem-solving techniques to revolutionize your approach to decision-making. 

Divergent and Convergent Styles 

Divergence and Convergence are two methods of seeking solutions. The first, Divergence, is a scatter-shot approach to idea generation. It aims to generate as many ideas as possible to achieve results. Convergence, on the other hand, is the process of narrowing down the ideas to a pragmatic and workable list. Combining these two styles allows for the power of unexpected connections combined with actionable steps.  

Picture this: You are watching a music video from a band that you love. You are inspired to create your own music video. However, filming a music video has many requirements, from location scouting to film editing. At first, you use the Divergence style to create a list of resources that might help you get the items that you need, even including ideas that may seem unlikely. After allowing yourself to brainstorm, you focus on Convergence to pick through your list and create action items based on which ideas seem most effective. Problem-solving using a dance between Divergence and Convergence methodologies can enable you to evaluate and benefit from almost any situation. 

Reframing Obstacles

Reframing a problem as a question can shift your focus from feeling paralyzed by difficulties to considering potential solutions, allows freedom from constraints and opens up the mind. For example, what would you do if you consistently receive poor grades in a class?  

One option is to internalize the obstacle (that you are struggling with the subject) as a matter of self-worth. You may tell yourself: “I will never be able to learn this,” or “I should give up.” However, if you instead reframe the challenge as a question, you can ask: “How can I make the subject easier for me to understand?” Now you’re on the pathway to creative problem-solving! By asking this question, you are able to determine that you would benefit from outside help, so you approach your teacher after class. He explains a fundamental aspect of the foundational topic you had misunderstood, which launches your improved understanding of the rest of the subject. By thinking creatively, you are able to redefine a seemingly insurmountable issue into a question that has an answer. At its foundation, resourceful problem-solving involves challenging the idea that obstacles cannot be overcome. 

Keeping An Open Mind

Idea generation can be stifled by premature judgment. Brainstorming should be all about allowing unexpected connections, as innovation often involves the exploration of seemingly unlikely ideas. 

Let’s explore an example of this. Dr. Harry Coover developed the substance we now know as Super Glue during World War II while he was attempting to invent a military-grade material for gun sights. Super Glue is now a household name that has little to do with weaponry. However, even Dr. Harry Coover did not anticipate that his invention would later be used during the Vietnam War – but to close wounds. The doctors at that time were compelled to think creatively lest their patients pay the price. Imagine if these doctors had refused to use the resources they had on hand because Super Glue was not typically seen as a medical tool at that time. Creative problem-solving can save lives!

The Power Of “Yes, And” 

“Yes, and…” is about accepting an idea and expanding upon it. Sometimes, a particular idea may not be the best choice for a situation. However, in the process of idea generation, bouncing around ideas allows for a collaborative environment that encourages the vulnerability of thinking outside the box. 

Suppose you want to throw a surprise birthday party for your best friend, Sally. You team up with your other friends and hold a brainstorming session about what kinds of activities Sally would most enjoy at the party. As you brainstorm, you make sure that you don’t dismiss the ideas that you or your friend group are suggesting out of hand. After all, you may look back to see that the proposal that you initially thought of as unlikely was actually the best concept of all! 

“Yes, and…” is a versatile tool that can be cross-applied to many different situations such as brainstorming topics for an essay, locating resources for a creative project, coming up with ideas for a new outfit, or even redesigning the aesthetic of your room! The phrase “Yes, and…” allows for freedom of thought, reduces potential feelings of embarrassment around speaking up, and prevents the waste of valuable potential opportunities. 

creative problem-solving


Creative problem-solving is a virtuous cycle. If you are open-minded in your decision-making process, discovery is not far behind because potential is everywhere. Whether it is in your capacity for growth as an individual, the ridden riches of your situation, or even in the obstacle itself – opportunity is always calling and creativity answers. The joy of tactical resourcefulness inspires innovation that leads to success. As a natural cognitive function that can be developed and trained, the power of CPS is open to all regardless of class, gender, or culture. 

Educate. Radiate. Elevate. is a nonprofit tutoring organization that strives to reveal and encourage the best in its students through a holistic approach to teaching. Our method emphasizes not only the subject matter but also the underlying learning and life skills that are necessary to excel beyond the classroom. Each tutor personalizes their strategy for their student’s backgrounds, needs, and goals. Our trauma-informed tutoring, learning and life skill training, and individualized attention for each learner have propelled our students to new heights. Nominate a student for our free tutoring program!

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