A list of creative problem-solving techniques can be a strategic advantage or a disaster for your startup. Before you form your company you should know how you are planning to address those many difficult problems. A key success factor is having an outstanding problem solving process. So these need to be simple, fast-to-execute and robust.
For those of you who really want detail, Alex Osborn is the original thought leader on creative problem solving. For those who are interested he wrote a great book, Applied Imagination: Principles and Procedures of Creative Problem Solving. There are links for Amazon.com and Amazon UK in the References far below. Much of the creative problem-solving information that you will find on the Internet is based on Osborn’s work.
Wikipedia suggests categories
Wikipedia suggests a list of creative problem-solving technique categories. These are below. See also creativity techniques at Wikipedia:
- Shifting your mental state shift into one that fosters creativity
One technique involves taking a break or sleeping
- Reframing the problem
One example is thinking through “What am I really trying to accomplish?”
- Facilitating multiple ideas
This assumes that generating a number of ideas is likely to produce a useful idea.
- Inducing change of perspective
The idea here is to facilitate a fresh perspective. Then a solution may be obvious.
For some startup problems it is politically wise to involve one or more of your investors. After all they promised to be available when you need them at some appropriate point you should call this “bluff” and see what happens. If you sought out investors with knowledge of your niche; this may well work. But John Gale suggests that you should have a backup plan to cover this if you do not receive a useful response.
List of Creative Problem-Solving Techniques for Startups
- If all seems lost; do be accepting of the concept that there are likely solutions. Some may even be cost effective.
- Try again to methodically understand exactly what is the problem. Identify the entities and people involved. What are the facts? What are the potential positive and negative outcomes? Try to express all of this as simply as possible.
- Review and test your assumptions. Restate each of them even if it does not seem to be worthwhile.
- Review and test each of the constraints. Restate each of them even if it does not seem to be worthwhile.
- If the problem can be separated into pieces; try to create a separate solution for each piece.
- Can you express a simplistic solution and then add the details?
- Carefully test each potential solution. There may be more than one feasible solution. There advantages and disadvantages will not be equal.
- Create a diverse team to examine the issues. Serial entrepreneurs and experienced consultants have more experience thinking “outside the box” than most others.
Patience will be more effective than panic.
- Alex Osborn Applied Imagination: Principles and Procedures of Creative Problem Solving, Creative Education Foundation Press is available at Amazon.com and at Amazon UK
- The Basics of Creative Problem Solving – CPS