Are we all creative?

Most (if not all) people are creative to various extents. It's just that some people act on their ideas and others ignore them. Inventors and artists take action on their ideas.

Creativity is a critical element of how human beings advance in all our disciplines.

(John Semple, Chief surgeon at Toronto's Women's College Hospital (G&M June 2012)

Different people have different levels and abilities of creativity, much like anything else that is a skill.   However, everyone can be creative if they want to be; and like any other skills, creativity can be developed and cultivated.

Not only do we have different levels of creativity (How much!), people also differ in their style of creativity – that is How they are being or using their creativity.  (for more information on Styles of Creativity see the Kirton Adaption Innovation Inventory).

Creativity, the ability to generate novel responses to problems and challenges, to make decisions and to manage change;  it is a basic human ability. Some people are encouraged to express their creative ability more than others and may even get rewarded for doing so.

There are many ways of being creative. Each of us can be creative if we recognize our unique talents and develop mastery in those areas.

That is the whole purpose of creativity develop one's ability to generate and implement new ideas.

  1. The first task in becoming more creative is to give yourself permission to do things creatively.
  2. The second is to identify and try to overcome your personal blocks to creativity.
  3. The third way!  There is convincing evidence that creative skills can be learned, developed and improved. Rather than an inherent aptitude, creativity probably reflects an attitude, and attitudes can be changed.

HRCI offers training and workshops to help you develop your creativity and creative thinking skills, and provide you with tools and techniques to support you in your problem solving approaches.

How else might you improve your creative potential?

Here are some general suggestions:

  1. Learn more about creativity - Take an interest in it, read about it!
  2. Get curious about ideas outside your own special interest; meet people from other disciplines.
  3. Play with ideas, make new associations, practice looking at things in many different ways, create metaphors.
  4. Take time for leisurely thinking, for contemplation, for daydreaming – some Creative Time Out! (Einstein said that   ‘Creativity is the residue of time wasted!’ from the Book: ‘Imagine: How creativity works’ by Jonah Lehrer)
  5. Defer judgment on your ideas …give them a chance to incubate. 
  6. At the same time, do not shy away from a good debate about them!
  7. Enjoy the feeling that comes with new insights.
  8. Beware of your use of Idea Killers!
  9. Put yourself in a problem-solving mood, ask questions, question assumptions, ask Why?  and Why not? What is stopping me?

Creative Problem Solving

Creativity is essential to problem-solving, decision-making and making change – which is often the primary tasks of teams. To move people into a creative mode often takes a change in group process, setting, or facilitation technique.


Creative Problem Solving (or CPS) is a proven method for approaching a problem or a challenge in an imaginative and creative way. It is a process that helps people re-define the problems they think they face, come up with new ideas and then take action on these ideas - all with the same creative spirit.     

CPS is a comprehensive system built on our own natural, innate thinking processes that deliberately ignites one’s creative thinking and produces new, improved or innovative solutions. Through alternating phases of divergent and convergent thinking, CPS provides a process for managing thinking and action, while avoiding premature or inappropriate judgment. It is built upon a flexible framework that is capable of incorporating many creativity tools and a variety of approaches.

At the same time that CPS is a structured process, it’s also a very flexible one. When you begin to use and internalize the CPS process, you find that it’s cyclical. You begin to see how to move from step to step, and how to jump back and forth between steps. When using CPS becomes part of your own way of thinking and working, you can use one step at a time, as you need, when you need it.  

The way that CPS has been understood and described has changed over the past fifty years of research, development and practice.  

Many models have been developped over the years, most of them grounded in the original work of Osborn and Parnes. 

Two important CPS-based models are:

1.  Basadur Simplexity Thinking is an 8-Step process within a three-phase process of creative problem solving and innovative thinking that helps you solve complex problems, uncover fresh opportunities and take them to action!

PROBLEM Formulation

Step 1: Problem Finding literally consists of finding or anticipating problems and opportunities.  The result is a continuous flow of new, present and future problems to solve, changes to deal with and capitalize on, and opportunities for improvement for the organization.

Step 2: Fact Finding consists of deferring convergence and actively gathering information potentially related to a fuzzy situation, and then evaluating and selecting those facts most likely to be helpful in developing a set of fruitful, advantageous problem definitions in the next step.

Step 3: Problem Definition consists of first using divergence to convert the key facts the group selected into a wide variety of creative “how might we?” challenges, and then selecting one (or a few) which seem most advantageous to solve. This step is about making sure the group is asking the right questions and that it comes up with the best definitions of the problem.

SOLUTION Formulation

Step 4: Idea Finding consists of deferring convergence while actively creating large number of potential solutions to the target problem definitions, and then converging smaller number of potentially good solutions for evaluation.

Step 5: Evaluation and Selection consists of open-mindedly generating a wide variety of criteria potentially useful for making an unbiased and accurate evaluation of the potential solutions, and then selecting and applying the most significant criteria to decide which possible solutions are the best to take forward towards implementation.

SOLUTION Implementation 

This stage recognises that problem solving does not end with the development of a good solution.  Unless the solution is skilfully prepared for implementation, and it implementation skilfully executed, the problem solving will not have been successful.  How to gain support for risking change, how to build commitment to plunge into unknown waters, how to tailor a solution for adaptation to specific circumstance, and how to follow-up to ensure permanent installation of the new change, is a significant, creative venture of its own.

Step 6: Action Planning involves thinking up specific action steps which will lead to a successful installation of the new solution.

Step 7: Gaining acceptance recognises that the best laid plans can be scuttled by resistance to the new changes involved. This step looks at the ways ownership in the solution can be generated, people can be shown that the solution benefits them, and potential problems caused by the solution can be minimized.

Step 8: Action Taking action recognizes that the actual doing of an action step is an integral part of the decision making and problem solving process, and not to be taken for granted. No matter how carefully thought out the specific steps in a plan of action, it still remains to do the steps. This step recognizes the need to “get on with it” and learn from taking action.

NOTE:  Diane is certified to use and teach the Basadur Simplexity Thinking Process.

2.  This CPS model below was used at the Crea-conference (Italy) for the first time in 2004. It is based on the work and research done at the International Center for Creative Studies in Buffalo.