It’s the one certainty in every brainstorming session – the phrase ‘think outside the box’ is always waiting to appear.
Like many common sayings, it’s started losing all meaning from overuse.
Great and productive creative thinking and problem-solving are skills sought after, leading entrepreneurs, managers, and everyone wanting to excel at their job to scour the internet for a magic formula that will solve all their problems by helping them solve others.
Great problem-solving comes down to simplicity
Peel away the excess layers of your problem until you’re left with the root of it.
It could be as simple as walking back through the steps until you find an obvious roadblock in the process, or even something more complex.
A great tangible metaphor for a problem is a tangled pair of earphones – unless you calm and focus on each knot, you’re likely to break it or waste time and energy..
Throw out ‘should’
It’s hard to take a step back from social conventions and history, potentially turning your back on usual procedures to find a solution.
Sometimes the step back is necessary – everyone has a feeling of what they should do in a situation, but the pressure of ‘should’ can be the difference between thinking creatively to find a solution or simply thinking historically.
The usual ‘should’ frame of mind makes many focus on the consequences of solutions – there may be an obvious answer your brain blocks due to perceived trade-offs and costs.
It’s easy to get stuck on the answers that seem most obvious, rather than approaching with an open mind to find a creative solution.
Some rules are made to be broken.
If a client has an issue with a project, existing processes might require you to react a certain way.
This may offer an adequate solution sometimes, but doesn’t take into consideration that every client and project has different needs.
Read more: 6 Ways to Get Great New Clients
Start embracing ‘could’.
What tools do you have at your disposal?
How could you use them to make the client happy?
If you don’t have the right tool, what else can you use or how could you get it?
Identifying the best outcome of the problem is the first step.
Innovating in a way that solves the problem provides a basic solution, but finding a solution that prevents the problem from occurring again offers the ideal scenario.
Ignoring roadblocks might not seem like an efficient use of time at first, but removing them from your thought process can be a way to let your imagination wander, coming up with idealistic options before moving to look at viability.
Get input from people with a variety of lived experiences, backgrounds, and thought styles.
People may find problem-solving creatively harder if they function either very creatively or very logically, and external conversations can help you identify common threads and use them to build a solution.
If you don’t have ready access to a diverse group of thinkers and doers, such as those that work in coworking spaces, you may look online into a small business community, or even talk it out with some friends.
Be a leader.
Just because nobody has solved your problem before doesn’t mean it can’t be done – on a larger scale, your idea could be revolutionary.
James Dyson’s initial problem was a clogging vacuum bag, and he started thinking about creative solutions to the common issue.
Fast forward 5 years and he had created a vacuum cleaner that worked using cyclonic action and centrifugal force, with the industry now seeing the demise of older, bag-based styles.
Read more: How to Help Your Small Business Thrive
Problem-solving is one of the keys to every great startup and entrepreneurial dream – identify a pain-point for your customers and clients, and then work to offer them a solution.
Problem-solving is the key to business, and constant innovation and creative thinking are the keys to excelling in your field.