There is one skill that I am so thankful that I learnt - the creative problem solving process. When I look back on where I have been on my career journey, this is the one skill that has made a massive difference.
1. I like to pursue the best and this is not a process that came out of nowhere. There is substantial theory and solid research behind the process:
Creative Problem Solving is a proven method for approaching a problem or a challenge in an imaginative and innovative way. It’s a tool that helps people re-define the problems they face, come up with breakthrough ideas and then take action on these new ideas. Alex Osborn and Sidney Parnes conducted extensive research on the steps that are involved when people solve problems, and formed the basis of the process.
Today, it is used by many of the top brands in the world to ideate and to create successful outcomes for their business.

2. The creative problem solving process taught me to wait before excluding what could be fabulous ideas. I learnt to bite my tongue and follow the YES AND principle so that all ideas emerge before they are rationally excluded.
I had to include everyone in the room and not encourage an 80 - 20 principle where 20% of the people talk 80% of the time. That encourages full participation and that rich diversity of thought and contribution is where ideas suddenly emerge that have made the hugest difference to my business.
3. The process also showed me where I fit best in a team. My natural style is to be an ideator. No good placing me in a team where I need to act in the role of integrator and or implementor. I am okay at clarification. Just knowing where my strengths lie gives me a head-start.

4. I learnt to be both flexible and structured. Quite a challenge when you are delivering to the needs of the business and also want to ensure that there are so many innovative, more creative, more efficient and effective ways of doing things! As you adapt the process to each challenge you encounter, you realise just how versatile and powerful the process is.
5. The process reminds me to always examine the data before leaping in. Sounds straightforward but so much easier to jump to conclusions. The strength of the creative problem solving process is that fact finding and data gathering is part and parcel of the whole methodology.
6. The process also ensures that I defer judgment so that as a team we can come up with wild, outrageous, out-of-the-box ideas. This is where we explore ideas that are possible solutions and have the most fun. It’s also where we stretch to make connections, take risks, and try new combinations to find potentially innovative solutions.
7. The process also gives me the discipline to strengthen and improve the best ideas generated. I am able to generate the criteria that need to be considered to evaluate the ideas for success. A creative idea is not really useful if it won’t be implemented!!
Learn more about the process from our guest facilitator, Russ Schoen: