Process is everything, and even creative people follow a process when applying themselves to problems, opportunities and challenges that they face. One of the most successful design thinking and creative firms in the world – a Company called IDEO used a four step Creative Problem-Solving Process that can be adapted and used in every situation.
It works as follows:
#1: Step One – Clarify:
Solving problems or responding to challenges and opportunities starts with a clear understanding of the problem, its underlying root cause. Because creativity is a team sport, clarifying also means all members of the team having a shared understanding of what the problem is and a shared sense of what needs to be done to overcome it. Without this level of individual and team clarity, it is more than likely that the ideas and solutions proffered will not be adequate.
#2: Step Two – Ideate:
This is the next important step that has to do with coming up with as many ideas or options as possible. It requires you to diverge – go for quantity, defer judgment, build on others’ ideas and keep pushing for novelty.
#3: Step Three – Develop:
After coming up with as many ideas as possible, the next step is to select the most appropriate ideas. You can do this by refining and merging the ideas that you have, evaluating them against certain constraints that you may have and eliminating some of the ideas; or using an iterative means to rank or rate the ideas so that you can get the best ones.
#4: Step Four – Implement:
Now that you have developed a number of possible solutions, you need to move on the final phase which is implementation. This involves putting together a workable project plan with clear deliverables and accountabilities, creating a system for monitoring and tracking performance as well as a system for continuous improvement and managing change to ensure that your innovation truly adds value. Without proper implementation, all you have is at best a great idea or solution.