Tag: Problem Solving

Information Gathering Stage of The Creative Problem Solving Process for Teams


Access Our Ultimate Guide to Building Better Problem Solving Skills in Your Team

“Problem-solving becomes a very important part of our makeup as we grow into maturity or move up the corporate ladder.” –  Zig Ziglar

The first step in the creative problem solving process for teams is to gather information about the problem. In order to effectively solve the correct problem, the team needs to know as much about it as possible.

Understanding Types of Information

There are many different types of information. The following list includes information your team will need to consider when beginning the creative problem solving process:

  • Fact
  • Opinion
  • Opinionated Fact
  • Concept
  • Assumption
  • Procedure
  • Process
  • Principle

Facts are small pieces of well-known data. Facts are based on objective details and experience. Opinions are also based on observation and experience, but they are subjective and can be self-serving. When a fact and opinion are presented together, it is an opinionated fact, which may try to indicate the significance of a fact, suggest generalization, or attach value to it. Opinionated facts are often meant to sway the listener to a particular point of view using the factual data.

Concepts are general ideas or categories of items or ideas that share common features. Concepts are important pieces of information to help make connections or to develop theories or hypotheses. Assumptions are a type of concept or hypothesis in which something is taken for granted.

Procedures are a type of information that tells how to do something with specific steps. Processes are slightly different, describing continuous actions or operations to explain how something works or operates. Principles are accepted rules or fundamental laws or doctrines, often describing actions or conduct.

Creative Thinking Outcome Based Team Building Activities
Problem Solving Outcome Based Team Building Activities

Identifying Key Questions

When tackling a new problem, it is important to talk to anyone who might be familiar with the problem. Your team can gather a great deal of information by asking questions of different people who might be affected by or know about the problem. Remind them to ask people with years of experience in the organization, and lower-level employees. Sometimes their insights can provide valuable information about a problem.

What questions should you ask? The key questions will be different for every situation. Questions that begin with the following are always a good starting point:

  • Who?
  • What?
  • Which?
  • Where?
  • When?
  • Why?
  • How?

Here are some examples of more specific questions:

  • Who initially defined the problem?
  • What is the desired state?
  • What extent is the roof being damaged?
  • Where is the water coming from?
  • When did the employee finish his training?
  • How can we increase our market share?
  • Which equipment is working?

One important source of information on a problem is to ask if it has been solved before. The team should find out if anyone in the company has had the same problem. This can generate great information about the problem and potential solutions.

Methods of Gathering Information

When gathering information about a problem, there are several different methods your team can use. No one method is better than another. The method depends on the problem and other circumstances. Here are some of the ways your team can collect information about a problem:

  • Conduct interviews.
  • Identify and study statistics.
  • Send questionnaires out to employees, customers, or other people concerned with the problem.
  • Conduct technical experiments.
  • Observe the procedures or processes in question first hand.
  • Create focus groups to discuss the problem.



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Creative Problem Solving for Teams

Creative Problem Solving for Teams

Access Our Ultimate Guide to Building Better Problem Solving Skills in Your Team

“If you find a good solution and become attached to it, the solution may become your next problem.” – Robert Anthony

The Random House Unabridged Dictionary includes several definitions for the word “problem.” The definitions that we are most concerned with while learning about the creative problem solving process are

  • “Any question or matter involving doubt, uncertainty, or difficulty,” and
  • “A question proposed for solution or discussion.”

A problem can be defined as a scenario in which the current situation does not match the desired situation, or anytime actual performance does not match expectations. Other labels for a problem include challenges or opportunities, or any situation or circumstance for which there is room for improvement.

Creative Thinking Outcome Based Team Building Activities
Problem Solving Outcome Based Team Building Activities

What is Creative Problem Solving?

Creative problem solving is a structured approach to finding and implementing solutions. The creative problem solving process involves creativity. The problem solvers come up with solutions that are innovative, rather than obtaining help to learn the answers or implementing standard procedures.

The creative problem solving process is at work anytime a team identify solutions that have value or that somehow improve a situation for someone.

What are the Steps in the Creative Solving Process?

The Creative Problem Solving Process uses six major steps to implement solutions to almost any kind of problem. The steps are:

  1. Information Gathering, or understanding more about the problem before proceeding
  2. Problem Definition, or making sure you understand the correct problem before proceeding
  3. Generating Possible Solutions using various tools
  4. Analyzing Possible Solutions, or determining the effectiveness of possible solutions before proceeding
  5. Selecting the Best Solution(s)
  6. Planning the Next Course of Action (Next Steps), or implementing the solution(s)


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Become a Problem-Solver

Become a Problem-Solver

“The highest levels of performance come to people who are centered, intuitive, creative, and reflective – people who know to see a problem as an opportunity.” – Deepak Chopra

Not many of us become overly excited when we are confronted with a problem. Most of us do not wake up in the morning hoping that we will have problems during the day. But if you want to succeed in life and business you will have to become a problem- solver.

Related: Problem Solving Outcome Based Team Building Activities

It is the problem-solvers that are the ones that survive and thrive. The more problems you solve the greater your value becomes to your organization and your customers. The greater  your value, the greater your rewards.

But the highest recognition and rewards go to, not only those who solve problems, but those who have the foresight and ability to prevent potential problems.

When you go about your work today, think about potential problems that may arise and solve them before they occur. Your value to the organization will increase as you are recognized as not only a problem-solver, but someone who prevents problems. As your value increases, so will your rewards.



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Winning Teams are Solution-Oriented

Winning Teams are Solution-Oriented

Are you someone that sees a problem in every situation or do you see a solution in every challenge? Who you are determines what you see. When you are facing a problem you can respond in one of four ways: you can run away from it, fight it, forget it or face it. It does not require any special ability to see problems. The difference makers are those that think in terms of solutions instead of problems. If your team is filled with people with solution-oriented mindsets, you have a winning team. Anyone has the potential to become solution-oriented.

Truths that Solution-Seeking People Recognize

  1. Problems are a matter of perspective. Something is only a problem if you believe that it is a problem. You need to view problems as temporary setbacks, interim obstacles or solutions in the making. Obstacles and setbacks are part of life; you cannot avoid them but you do not have to allow them to become problems. Determine to meet these challenges with a solution-oriented attitude.
  2. There is a solution to every problem. If you want to become solution-oriented, you need to cultivate an attitude that sees all problems as solvable.
  3. Problems will either stop you or they will stretch you. Depending on how you approach them, all problems have the potential of either hurting you or stretching you. Do not allow problems to stop you from succeeding, but let it stretch you to overcome. Choose to see problems as an opportunity to become a better person.

How to Become a More Solution Oriented Team Member

  1. Be someone that refuses to give up. The same situation can cause one person to say “I give up” and another to say “what a great opportunity”. Revisit those challenges that you and your team have all but given up on and be determined not to give up until you find a solution.
  2. Refocus your thinking. Sustained thinking is a sure way of overcoming any problem that your team may come up against. Set aside a specific time with your team to work on the problem. Choose a time when everyone is still fresh and able to focus.
  3. Rethink your strategy. Break free from the limitations of your typical thinking patterns. Break a few rules and brainstorm some absurd ideas. Redefine the problem and find ways to generate fresh ideas and approaches.
  4. Repeat the process. Do not stop working on the problem if you do not find a solution, keep working on the problem. When you find a solution to the problem, repeat the process with another problem. Make it your goal to cultivate a constant solution-oriented attitude.

 Resource: The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player


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How to Solve Problems as a Team

How to Solve Problems as a Team

Solving problems are one of the most common objectives of a team and is usually the . The diverse set of skills the team members bring to the team enhances the chance of finding a solution. In this article we will be looking at how problems are solved as a team.

Related: Problem Solving Outcome Based Team Building Activities

The Six Thinking Hats

Dr. Edward de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats is a powerful technique which a team can use to solve problems by looking at the problem from various different perspectives. It encourages team members to move outside their habitual ways of thinking. It also assists the team to understand the full complexity of a decision and to identify issues and opportunities which they might not otherwise notice. The various different perspectives are symbolized by different color hats. The act of putting on a colored hat allows a team member to symbolically think in terms of the perspective which the colored hat symbolizes.

White Hat – Neutrality
The team members make statements of fact. Information that is absent is identified and the views of people who are not present are presented in a factual manner.

Red Hat – Feeling
The team members state their feelings and exercise their gut instincts. It is a good method of harvesting ideas and getting the team to identify their top two or three choices. It helps the team to reduce a list of many options into a few to focus on. In this method of thinking each team member gets to vote for the solution they prefer.

Black Hat – Negative Judgment
Team members are encourage to identify barriers, hazards, risks and other negative connotations. This perspective involves critical thinking with team members looking for problems and mismatches. In this state team members should be discouraged from seeking solutions to raised problems.

Yellow Hat – Positive Judgment
Team members are asked to identify the benefits associated with a certain option or solution. In contrast to black hat thinking, this perspective looks for reasons in favor of something. This perspective is not just blind optimism but it is also an analytical process.

Green Hat – Creative Thinking
Team members are encouraged to think for the sake of identifying new possibilities. Things are said for the sake of seeing what they might mean, rather than to form a judgment. This form of thinking can take many forms and can cover the full spectrum of creativity.

Blue Hat – The Big Picture
All the team members are asked to discuss the thinking process. The team leader will generally wear this hat throughout the process and each member will be require to put it on from time to time. This hat should be used at the beginning of the problem solving session to set objectives and to define the route to take to get to them. It is also used to evaluate where the group has got to, and where the thinking process is going.


Brainstorming is a simple but effective method for generating ideas and suggestions. Brainstorming sessions allow team members to use each other as creative resources and are effective when a subject is being introduced. The aim of brainstorming is to generate a large quantity of ideas in a short time. This is usually followed by the sorting and prioritizing of the ideas to refine the results.

Building Consensus

Consensus is the point of maximum agreement from which action can follow. It is the one solution where everyone in the team feels that they have a solution that does not compromise any strong conviction or needs. In order to reach consensus, team members share, discuss, evaluate, organize and prioritize ideas.

To obtain consensus among the team, the leader must be able to separate the content from the process. The process should get the most attention with the leader assisting the team to solve its own problem.

The problem-solving process is as follows:

  1. Identify the problem or goal.
  2. Generate alternative solutions.
  3. Establish objective criteria.
  4. Decide on a solution that best fits the criteria.
  5. Proceed with the solution.

Everyone involved in the process should understand exactly which step is being worked on at any given point. When team members sense a problem, they are usually reacting to symptoms of the problem. But they are side effects of the real problem which usually lies below the surface.



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