Consider these two quotes.
Wikipedia defines creative problem solving in the following way.
Creative problem solving is the mental process of creating a solution to a problem. It is a special form of problem solving in which the solution is independently created rather than learned with assistance.
In his book Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? (affiliate link), author Seth Godin has this to say about education.
The launch of universal (public and free) education was a profound change in the way our society works, and it was a deliberate attempt to transform our culture. And it worked. We trained millions of factory workers.
Creative problem solving and education… it seems that the two items should intrinsically go together, yet our education system mainly focused on training factory workers: compliant, obedient employees who accept orders at face value. Is it any wonder, then, that we struggle to “independently create” solutions?
Whether you agree with Godin’s assessment of the education system or not is another matter. I’d rather focus on our ability to develop solutions on our own. Isn’t that one of the key skills needed for life? I’m all for heeding wisdom when it’s available, but there are tons of problems that we face that no one has faced before in our exact circumstances.
How many times have you described a problem to someone and had that person just give you a quick answer that you knew could never work. You may verbalize the idea, “You’re crazy! My mom would kill me if I did that!” Or, you may just keep that thought to yourself – especially if you wanted to avoid alerting your mother to your schemes.
Even in the process of deciding whether or not to take the advice of others, you have to use your creative problem solving skills.
- Would this advice make sense in my situation?
- Does this person (the one dispensing advice) actually know what he or she is talking about?
To some level or another, we’re already utilizing this skill. But are we practiced at it?
I would argue that creative people (people that regularly make time to practice creativity – not just those “born” with artistic ability) are going to be stronger problem solvers than those who avoid creativity altogether. Remember, making decisions isn’t the same thing as solving problems. If I’m just following my education and deciding to go down the prescribed path every time, then I’m not creatively solving problems. I’m just following the rules.
Think about it. Creative people have to solve problems all the time. What should my character’s name be? What color should I use for this painting? What shot will complete the intro scene of my short film?
There are proven suggestions you can follow. After all, we have art theory and art teachers, but art is not the same as science.
There aren’t easy answers for creative challenges.
Do you know of any challenges like that in the rest of your life?
Yeah, me too.
Not only is creativity a chance to add beauty to the world, it’s also an opportunity a chance to practice crucial life skills.
What about You?
Have you noticed a link between your creative times and your ability to solve problems in other arenas of life? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comment section below.
Photo by TheirHistory.