What’s your problem? 3 easy steps for creative business problem solving

C2 team

Innovation culture doesn’t happen one time but all the time. Jason Thomson, an instigator at Think Jigsaw, offers an approach to creative problem solving for whatever complex issue is at hand.


Step 1: Know your thinking style

Before jumping into problem-solving mode, start by understanding how you and those working with you approach and process ideas.

Do you prefer to…

  • “see” an idea? You are a visual
  • ”hear” an idea? You are an auditory
  • learning about an idea while taking a walk? You are a kinesthetic

Would you rather…

  • build upon existing ideas? You are a conservative
  • start from scratch? You are a liberal

Do you think most effectively…

  • in the moment? You are a short processor.
  • when you’ve had some time to consider things? You are a long processor.

Do you prefer to think…

  • alone? You are an individual
  • in teams? You are a team


Step 2: Ask “why” to define the core problem

What are the symptoms of the problem at hand? Ask “why” until you get to the root cause. Looking at the symptoms of a problem allows it to be framed differently. Here’s an example:

Problem: The Washington Monument is disintegrating 

Why? Use of harsh chemicals.

Why? To clean pigeon poop.

Why so many pigeons? They eat spiders. There are lots of spiders there.

Why so many spiders? They eat gnats. There are lots of gnats there.

Why so many gnats? At dusk, they are attracted by the lights.

Solution: Wait until after dusk to light up the monument.


Step 3: Keep asking questions to solve the problem

Generate as many solutions as possible. Then ask more questions: What would the simple solution be? What would you do if you were starting from scratch? What stands in the way of solving this problem?

Then, find the best way to communicate the path to your team. Help them see a clear way to solve the problem.

But remember: you need to be an “ideas therapist,” not an idea generator. “Your job is not to come up with ideas – your job is to create an environment to create ideas,” says Jason. You have to be positive, to listen to people and to be a builder. Be the one who will always ask “why” in order to keep an “idea building” culture alive.


Read more from the “Back to business” special:

Skill them all: Here’s how to gear up for the future of work

Does your company really need AI? Ask yourself these 3 questions

Train your brain to spot the next big industry shift

6 steps to get your business walking the diversity talk

Your audience is cooler than you


The C2 Montréal Minutes: Actionable insights for creative business leaders

This article is excerpted from the upcoming Transformative Collisions: The C2 Montréal 2018 Minutes, available for your reading pleasure this fall at c2m.tl/minutes2018.

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