What is Creative Problem Solving

Riya:My creativity has gone to sleep. I have not made a painting in a while
Ritu:I love my profession. As a software professional, I don’t require to be creative.”
Do you agree with Ritu?
People praise creativity when it comes to art. But people fail to notice creativity when it comes to problem solving. They were not aware that problem solving can also be creative.
Creativity is not required just for artists. But for every human being.

What is creativity?

It is a way of thinking where unconventional methods and behaviours are used to bring a new solution.If creativity is unconventional way of thinking, what is traditional thinking?
According to Kahneman, author of Thinking Fast and Slow, you think in two ways. One is system1 ( intuitive thinking ) and the other system 2 (deliberate thinking). When you are judging, you are using system 1. When you are calculating 234*89, you are using system 2 where you analyse the problem and solve it. In order to become better at problem solving, we need to know the different ways in which we usually do:
1.Trial and error:
It is the most crude method. It is mentally tiring too if the number of trials are too many.
Preparing a cup of coffee is a step by step method. Any step by step method becomes an algorithm. Algorithms are more useful for computers than human beings.
A single solution which can be applied to multiple problems instead of problem specific approach. The problem solving approach I discussed in this article is heuristic method.
It is the ‘Eureka’ moment. The sudden way of looking at things in a different light.

How do we think in the above ways?

1.Mental imagery:
When we are thinking of a problem we create an image of it in our head. If I ask you how many curtains are there in your house, the bigger your house, the longer time you take to respond because you are scanning through each room of your house to answer the question.
If I ask you about the different colours on your bike, you will actually rotate the image in your mind to see it at different angles.
Imagine an animal. What was the specific animal which came to your mind? When you think about something, you don’t think about all the possible varieties out there. You will just stick to one.
Before we jump into how to think creatively, let us learn about the our mind restricts our creativity.
3.Functional Fixedness:
What is a pen used for? The obvious answer is to write. But if ask you to tell twenty other places where it can be used, you will not be able to tell immediately. Because you look at pen as an object with a fixed function.
You are in a room with the following things available. You should fix and light the candle to the wall without the wax dripping on the table or wall.
Image result for candle problem
4.Mental set:
We think the way in which we thought all our life. We don’t think outside the box for the same reason.
Join the 9 dots with 4 lines without lifting the pen or pencil
Image result for 9 dots with 4 lines
5.Confirmation Bias:
When we look at new information, we look at it with our default beliefs. We just take the information which confirms the beliefs which we already have.
Now you have all the information on how we think conventionally. You also practised two questions.

Let’s see how to break your conventional way of thinking

1.Trial and error:
I locked my suitcase with the number lock I borrowed from my friend. I forgot the number pin of the number lock. I had to open the suitcase urgently. My friend helped me solve the problem. How did he do it?
Seven balls weigh the same and one ball weighs different from the rest. Find the odd ball in least possible number of steps.
Every time I got locked inside the house, my mom broke the door to enter into the house. But today she wants to do something different. What can she do?

How does creativity help in solving the above problems?

1.Trial and error:
Our mental set tells us that lock has to be broken. But what my friend did was broke the zip pin. In that way, he saved me from confronting my friend with a broken lock.
The standard algorithm uses to compare two at a time on a two weight scale. Should we use only a two-weight scale? Can we not change it to three or four?
My mom entered by the back door. I know it sounds like a silly one. But our conventional thinking expects us to enter through the front door.
4.Candle Problem:
Solution: Candle problem – Wikipedia
You can’t think of a solution to the problem initially because you look at the box only for holding pins initially. But when you remove the pins, then you will get an idea that the box can be used to hold pins too. That is where you have to get rid of functional fixedness.
5.Join the dots
With our usual mental set, we will not be able to solve it. We are normally taught that lines should not leave the dots. This problem can only be solved by drawing the line out of the box.

How do we develop this kind of thinking?

1.Attribute listing:
Make use of a mind map if required. Write the central problem. Now list the various attributes about it. Let’s take the weights problem.
2.Multiple uses for the same object
In how many ways can you use your laptop? Apart from the original use of laptop.
Creativity is a muscle which needs to be exercised.
Happy becoming creative!

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