Creative Problem Solving

Type of record:
  • macro method
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Ideal innovation phases for this method:
  1. Innovation Phase
  2. 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. 4
  6. 5
  7. 6
  8. 7
  9. 8
  10. 9
  11. 10


Creative Problem Solving is a structured process for generating novel solutions. In contrast to design thinking, which is user-oriented, Creative Problem Solving focuses more on the client and his challenges. It is therefore well suited for topics on which there are (still) no users, or also for process optimizations that have as their goal, for example, cost reduction.

The first version of Creative Problem Solving was developed by Alex Osborn and Sidney J. Parnes in the 1950s.

Alex Osborne had previously described the basic rules of brainstorming and wanted to develop a model for the entire process of creative problem solving. Alex Osborne distinguished between two basic ways of thinking that take place in the Creative Problem Solving process:

- divergent thinking (thinking in many options) and
- convergent thinking (evaluating thinking, making decisions)

There are now many different versions of the process, which has evolved over the years. Different authors use different versions:

The Creative Problem Solving Process according to Isaksen and Treffinger from 1992 consists of six sub-steps in three phases. These are:

1st Explore the Challenge (exploring the challenge)
1.1 Measurement Finding (Determining the Target)
1.2 Data Finding (collection of necessary information)
1.3 Problem Finding (identifying the problem that needs to be solved in order to achieve the goal)

2nd Generate Ideas (generating ideas)
2.1 Idea Finding (generating ideas for solving the identified problem)

3.Prepare for Action
3.1 Solution Finding (working out ideas for a feasible solution)
3.2 Acceptance Finding (planning action steps)

This version was adapted again in 2000 by Isaksen, Dorval and Treffinger and divided into four phases with eight steps. These are:

1st Understanding the Challenge
- constructing opportunities
- exploring data
- Framing Problems

2nd Generating Ideas

3rd Preparing for Action
- Developing Solutions
- building acceptance

4. planning your approach
- Appraising Tasks
- design process

The 2011 CPS Learner model by Dr. Gerard J. Puccio and Marie Mance is a widely used model and consists of four phases and six sub-steps. These are:

Explore the Vision
-Gather Data
-Formulates Questions

Explore Ideas

-Formulates Solutions

-Formulates a Plan
  • Effective for all innovation types
  • Effective for incremental innovations and improvements
  • Effective for radical innovations
  • Effective for medium complexity challenges
  • Effective for low complexity challenges
  • P1 Understanding (identifying innovation search fields - problem solving)
  • P2 Analysis (of problems - the environment - people - products)
  • P3 Observing (of people - the environment - the product use)
  • P4 Synthesize (create leading questions - derive position)
  • P5 Idea Finding (Idea Generation - Creative Phase - Incubation)
  • P6 Idea enrichment (idea combination - idea integration)
  • P7 Idea selection (idea evaluation - filtering - deciding)
  • P8 Early Prototyping (testing directly on the user)
  • P9 Fighting for ideas (Building Commitments - Generate Fundings)
  • P10 Implement (Implementation - execution of ideas)
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