How to Transform Your Problem Solving and Creativity

“Creativity is not a talent, it’s a way of operating.”-John Cleese

Shelli Welsh addresses the topic of thinking creatively in her article, “How to Transform Your Problem Solving and Creativity.”  The article offers several practical suggestions to jumpstart creative thinking, reviews on a few good books, and several exercises to partake in to get your brain moving outside of the box.

Some of the items she talks about include defining lateral thinking, which may seem chaotic, but consists of allowing your brain to move all over the place taking in thoughts and influences and choosing a best idea out of those results.  This is unlike vertical thinking where you move along systematically and logically until you reach a good solution and then stop.  There are several ways to help your brain think laterally.  First of all, you can use an analogy, so create a picture to describe your situation and how you would react to it, then translate that into a way to solve the actual problem.  Next, reverse information and reject the obvious by approaching the problem from the result and work your way to the beginning and deny any solutions that seem too easy.  Finally, oppose the elements by combining two seemingly dissimilar pieces of the puzzle and seeing what happens.

Other options for jumpstarting creativity include asking “What, Why, Where, How, Who, or When” to define the problem and weed out superfluous information.  Why is also important to connect with people on an emotional level and truly understand the reason behind the solutions or the actions.

Finally, Walsh describes the process for generating an idea.  The process consists of:

1) Gathering Raw Material: Seek out inspiration, be a lover of knowledge, cast you net wide, and always be curious.  Then, collect and catalogue what you find as well.

2) Digest: Let the material you have found soak in your brain, and think about what you have discovered.

3) Drop the Subject: When your brain has reached the point of too much thinking, stop consciously thinking and let your sub-conscious do all the work.

4) Birth of the Idea: This is when most ideas come to fruition, when you are not actively thinking of solutions, you are relaxed, and distracted from the problem.

5) Shaping and Developing and Idea to be practical: When you have an idea, seek feedback.  Get it out there, and learn from what others have to say.  Be humble and have a teachable attitude.

The end of the article, after all of these instructions, gives an encouragement and an exhortation to break past any barriers of fear and refuse to put of solving the problem.  Instead, tackle it full steam ahead and at least get started instead of continually shrinking from the challenge.

Overall, Walsh’s article gave some rather practical advice on creative thinking, which is entirely necessary within our profession.  The exercises greatly help you get to the heart of what you are passionate about, and stretch your mind to think freely and “outside of the box.”  I also found it interesting the truth of her process to shaping ideas.  I have experienced many times where I want to keep pushing a problem very consciously in my head, but then an idea will pop in just before bed, or in the shower, or while I am cooking dinner.  Those are usually the best ones too!

Walsh, S. (2015, January 9). How to Transform Your Problem Solving and Creativity. Retrieved February 2, 2015, from



2 thoughts on “How to Transform Your Problem Solving and Creativity

  1. I am glad you chose to read this article. The topic of creative thinking is something we often take for granted. There are many approaches from all aspects of design fields that can generate ideas and sometime we need to be reminded or hear how someone else approaches it! Do you feel like you practice her 5 processes? Also, you should check out Keri Smith’s book called How to Be an Explorer of the World which is a fun way to approach her first process in the list.


    1. Thanks for the recommendation. I think I do practice her 5 processes. I get a little antsy during the “let things just stew and digest” part, but I do think that still works very well. It just requires some patience. Also, I have found Pinterest to be a great source for collecting information and mostly inspiration.


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