# The Problem Solving Method

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To begin, let’s look at the creative problem solving process. In this module, we will define “problem” and other situations that lend themselves to the creative problem solving process. We will introduce the concept of solving problems using a creative process. The approach we use in this course includes six steps, which are also introduced in this module.

### What is a Problem?

The Random House Unabridged Dictionary includes several definitions for the word “problem.” The definitions that we are most concerned with while learning about the creative problem solving process are:

• “any question or matter involving doubt, uncertainty, or difficulty,” and
• “a question proposed for solution or discussion.”

A problem can be defined as a scenario in which the current situation does not match the desired situation, or anytime actual performance does not match expectations. Other labels for a problem include challenges or opportunities, or any situation or circumstance for which there is room for improvement.

### What is Creative Problem Solving?

Creative problem solving has evolved since its inception in the 1950s. However, it is always a structured approach to finding and implementing solutions.

The creative problem solving process involves creativity. The problem solvers come up with solutions that are innovative, rather than obtaining help to learn the answers or implementing standard procedures.

The creative problem solving process is at work anytime you identify solutions that have value or that somehow improve a situation for someone.

### What are the Steps in the Creative Solving Process?

The Creative Problem Solving Process uses six major steps to implement solutions to almost any kind of problem. The steps are:

1. Information Gathering, or understanding more about the problem before proceeding
2. Problem Definition, or making sure you understand the correct problem before proceeding
3. Generating Possible Solutions using various tools
4. Analyzing Possible Solutions, or determining the effectiveness of possible solutions before proceeding
5. Selecting the Best Solution(s)
6. Planning the Next Course of Action (Next Steps), or implementing the solution(s)

### Case Study

Carl and Nathan were exhausted after spending their evening at work, trying to figure out how to solve the logistic problem of how many pallets of flour should go to each grocery store. They were ready to give up, until Carl suggested they use the Creative Problem Solving Process to discover the best solutions and next course of action. Using the six steps, Nathan and Carl wrote down and defined the problem, before discovering suitable solutions and selecting the best one. They were glad to get off work, once they had planned their next course of action, and relieved that the problem had finally been solved, and that the grocery stores would receive the correct amounts of flour.