8 creative problem-solving tactics 

by By Belinda Wan (bwan@sph.com.sg)
published on 30 June 2016

Do you find yourself getting stuck in a rut all the time? Do you often stick to only one way of getting around a problem – be it at work or home?

Consciously trying to come up with new ways to do things can keep you interested in your tasks, result in unexpected discoveries, and even make you more creative.

Keeping an open mind and being flexible in your thinking also helps you to be more composed when problems come your way.

Here are some quick tips to boost your creativity.

1.         Set aside “me” time

Mr Joseph Wong, a behavioural transformation coach and chief leadership facilitator of a behavioural development and consulting house, said putting aside time is a good way to “reflect to calibrate”.

2.         Ask the right questions

When a problem comes your way, size it up before coming up with the solution.

Mr Wong said: “Determining if a potential solution is useful instead of right or wrong allows you to focus on what is important rather than what seems to be ideal.”

3.         Do not rush into things

Take your time to mull over a problem instead of jumping on the first solution that comes to mind. Avoid making a decision in a hurry.

“Ideas often get better when we intentionally put off finalising a decision. The delay can help to fine-tune and calibrate ideas,” said Mr Wong.

4.         Stay clear-headed

This allows you to zero in on what is crucial and solve what really matters.

Mr Wong said: “Creatively solving one problem might lead to others being solved. You might even get ideas for other areas.

“But being clear about which problem to solve is priority, so that you do not end up investing time on the wrong thing.”

5.         Anticipate problems

To avoid unexpected surprises, ask yourself a few key “what if” questions.

You need to have a strategic mind, or an ability to think ahead of the curve to do this, said Mr Wong.

“Useful questions to ask yourself include: For this project to be successful, what are the simple but missing criteria? If this project goes south, what is the first thing I will see or hear?”

6.         Get inspired

Fun places, and new sights and experiences can make you more creative.

7.         Gather feedback 

Ask others for their input so you can know exactly what is required and come up with more comprehensive solutions.

8.         Think out of the box

Over time, our habits or assumptions can make us complacent or less creative.

For non-routine tasks, Mr Wong suggested looking at the problem from another perspective. For instance, make it a point to explore faster, cheaper or simpler ways of doing something.