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Creative Problem Solving Techniques


Rob’s group 2nd day pm Thursday 12th January 2012

X8 Techniques tried

Mice out of a box

Rabbit out of a hat

David HQ to Europe business and separate businesses with undercutting control from US Gunter in Fool’s hat (distinctly uncomfortable and soon removed it) persona – not for profit

B822 Superheroes

People don’t play unless they dress up.

Exception the drunk Irish.

Finger puppets – story of senior engineer at BAE who didn’t want to give up his puppet.

Finger painting – kinaesthetic and visual

Swim coach and 80 swimmers

List and triangulate

IMAGE getting stuff out on the table in open ways.

ONLINE B822 Techniques Library : Drawing

INSERT IMAGE (pool with swimmers and one coach)

Finger painting

Needed to let go more before hand to conjure up an abstract image of the problem. Became too left brain by explaining rather than simply expressing. I should have suspended judgement more. Could have associated with words. There are other ways to use images to prompt comments. Could have created a rich picture (even hired a cartoonist or artist to do this).


‘For many of us drawing a picture is closer to how our thoughts grow naturally’.


Adapted from: Miller, W.C. (1987) The Creative Edge: Fostering Innovation Where You Work, Reading, MA, Addison-Wesley, pp. 91-5

SEPARATE FILE B822 Techniques Library : Role storming (other group) Griggs (1985) idea generation as someone else. Easier to be silly in character (see Superheroes)

1) start with conventional brainstorming to sift ideas.

2) individual or joint role play to develop it further.


Griggs, R.E. (1985) ‘A Storm of Ideas’, reported in Training, 22, 66 (November) Based on: VanGundy, A.B. (1988) Techniques of Structured Problem Solving, 2nd ed., Van Nostrand. Technique 4.48, p. 163


  • Know what you really want
  • Involve others
  • Value play
  • Adopt a set to break sets
  • Explore the givens
  • Broad picture local detail
  • Build up, don’t knock down
  • Live with looseness
  • It is there already
  • Connect and be receptive
  • Cycle often and close late
  • Manage the process

This need to be expressed as a table and all the ideas we used then placed on it and cross-referenced.



IMAGE OF HOUSE Off the Military Road on the way to Mowden.

We did a relaxation technique that had me fall asleep.

10mins to sleep Tense and relax body Leave x to country A river A bridge A house A spa And I fell asleep.


Three breaths Out the toes Why? MASSAGE TECHNIQUE Appropriateness of a neck massage Five of us did. What technique? (see final day) —


Size Too many/few Context May need incremental approach with ‘s’ types.

Belbin types and too many plant types

Resources Time required Permission or contract with everyone if it may become personal. Have to think it through Trained to do it. (do you want the Line Manager there? not if they may unbalance it) Embarrassment (how do you take them there) E.g taster sessions to start with

I now understand why people say the course changes lives, because it teaches you problem solving techniques that can be applied to all manner of issues. Most potentially life changing for me to see a problem resolved, to visualise it then working back from this til it is all joined up and works. This can be applied to fiction; everyone had a good idea for a story, the trick is to know its ending and work back from this finding away to create steps to the beginning and then to write this up as a treatment without deviation. With very risk averse people go with a list. Or ask them how much risk? Expectation to behave in a crazy way. Being outcome focussed may permit people to go along with it.


This proved to be a fascinating and engaging exercise where we saw the fruits of our efforts beginning to deliver results. lots of ideas Scoreboard of: Resources Cost Time Voting Use a pen Or 3-5 dots A nominal group technique (if there are many ideas) VS a group decision. Validation Panel consensus Why use one and not another. Filter Q- sort


Criteria VS options Weight % Criteria across the top Options vertical Option high low Can indicate all options and show choices. A, b, c, d


Two relate, constraining factors Restraints y axis Drivers x axis Developed an idea with David Gunter developed a further idea with David (akin to Comparison Tables) Gunter was always looking for ways to measure. I presented a filter process using either dots or weighted marking with the reserved ideas going to the next level of expertise and authority, using army and legal analogies: associate to partner, partner to barrister, barrister to judge. Private to middle ranking to senior officer. ‘Progressive hurdles’ suggests setting specific sieves such as cost. Ratings to can offer a blunt ‘yes – no’. Ending with full cost business and Market analysis.


Derived from: Hamilton, H.R. (1974) ‘Screening business development opportunities’ Business Horizons, August, pp. 13-24 Based on VanGundy, A.B (1988) Techniques of Structured Problem Solving, 2nd ed., Van Norstrand Reinhold. technique 5.02. pp. 213-17

B822 Techniques Library : Comparison Tables A widely used approach, from the B822 Course Team.


Another that Gunter adapted was: B822 Techniques Library : Force-Field Analysis Derived on Gestalt techniques of Kurt Lewin. Identify the driving and restraining factors SEE IMAGE (I might slant restraining forces to the left, driving forces pushing to the right) Blend of techniques. Then in relation to precepts? Wanting something that is achievable with the resources. Not play, but exploring the givens.

ONLINE B822 Techniques Library : Bunches of Bananas Bringing out the bananas is one approach, otherwise it could be a well placed joke or image. Lateral thinking techniques are often as much about reducing excessive left-brain attention. 1) Are there signs of stuckness? 2) Bring out the ‘bunches of bananas’ or some such to help unstick. 3) N.B. just as with a comedian it is just as much about delivery.


Adapted from: Richards, T. (1998) Creativity at Work, Aldershot, Gower, pp. 80-2 ONLINE

B822 Techniques Library : Random Stimuli of Various Kinds 1) Identify what it is you want ideas for. 2) Grab an idea from a paper, from looking out of the window, or by throwing dice. 3) Connect this idea back to the issue, if necessary using Free Association or Excursion. 4) If it doesn’t work try something else. Could pick a fixed or specific element of the problem and do the same. * Select grammatically appropriate stimuli: noun+verb, adjective+noun, but make bizarre combinations (which is how David Bowie often wrote song lyrics). * Deliberately do something different, or speak to someone new or travel home in a different way. * Allow the idea to incubate while going about your normal day.


Whiting (1958), Taylor (1962), de Bono (1970), Rickards (1974) and VanGundy (1988).

B822 Techniques Library : Excursion As part of synectics developed by Gordon and Prince (1972).

An attempt to use metaphor as an aid to creativity in a systematic way.

1) Problem statement

2) Select trigger object (smiling lobster)

3) Examination of this trigger

4) Force fit back to the problem + role into several other techniques: examples, analogies, career excursion, representation in other media, random stimuli, street excursion, essential paradox.


Prince,G.M. (1970) The Practice of Creativity, New York, Collier MacMillan, Chapter 5. Nolan, V. (1989) The Innovator’s Handbook

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