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Pedestrians from an Ariel View

Creative Problem Solving Toolkit  (2023)

*These tools have been arranged in the recommended sequence for effective problem solving.

In this toolkit, developed by the 2022 Earth Leadership facilitator team  from KnowInnovation and Inclusive Innovation, you will find detailed descriptions of various tools that can be applied in multiple contexts, such as::  creating a shared vision (interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary groups),  strategic  planning, lab retreats.  You will also find a guide for introducing the Collective Leadership Framework to various audiences.

Creative Problem-Solving Tools

The Creative Problem-Solving (CPS) process is a structured approach to tackling complex problems and generating innovative solutions. The creative process involves a dynamic interplay between divergent thinking (DT), which encourages exploration, generation of options, and open-mindedness, and convergent thinking (CT), which involves analysis, evaluation, and decision-making. This combination of divergent and convergent thinking fosters innovation, effective problem-solving, and the implementation of successful solutions. The CPS process typically consists of four stages: Clarification, Ideation, Development, and Implementation.

  1. Clarification: During the clarification stage, divergent thinking is employed to explore the problem from various angles, generate multiple perspectives, and uncover potential challenges and opportunities. This free-flowing exploration allows for a broad understanding of the problem. Subsequently, convergent thinking is applied to narrow down the focus, define the challenge to be addressed more precisely.

  2. Ideation: In the ideation stage, divergent thinking takes center stage as participants brainstorm and generate a multitude of ideas without judgment or constraints. The emphasis is on quantity and variety, encouraging creative exploration and the emergence of novel possibilities. Once a diverse range of ideas has been generated, convergent thinking is employed to evaluate and select the most promising ideas. Criteria could be applied to assess feasibility, viability, and alignment with the desired goals.

  3. Development: Divergent thinking is utilized in the development stage to evaluate, refine, and transform selected ideas into more concrete and actionable solutions. Concepts are iterated upon, combined, or modified to enhance their effectiveness and address potential challenges. Then, convergent thinking comes into play to scrutinize and prioritize the refined solutions, making decisions based on evaluation criteria, available resources, and practical considerations.

  4. Implementation: During the implementation stage, divergent thinking is employed to explore different strategies, approaches, and implementation plans. Various options and potential paths forward are considered to optimize the chances of success. Once the best course of action has been determined, convergent thinking takes over to execute the chosen solution, monitor progress, and adapt as needed. Evaluation criteria are used to assess the implementation's effectiveness and adjust strategies when necessary.

The Creative thinking tools (and the type of thinking they facilitate) included in this tool kit are:

  1. Clarification:

  2. Ideation:

  3. Development: 

  4. Implementation:

Facilitating Collaboration, Communication, and Collective Leadership

  1. Taboo: The Taboo technique is a valuable facilitation tool for fostering deeper discussions, promoting creativity, and developing a shared understanding of abstract concepts.

  2. 3-way Listening: The 3-way listening technique provides an opportunity for active listening, empathy, and open communication within the group. By rotating roles and engaging in multiple rounds, participants gain firsthand experience in both expressing themselves and deeply listening to others. This structured approach promotes a more inclusive and collaborative environment for sharing and generating insights.

  3. Exploring Collective Leadership: The guide to exploring Collective Leadership provides activities to deepen the group’s understanding of what Collective Leadership is and how it might be used to create impact in the context of their work. The guide also helps facilitate individual self awareness and development as a Collective Leader.

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