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Creative problem solving begins when knowledge and simply thinking about a problem fails. According to the book, The Creative Spirit, creative breakthroughs often follow extensive, even exhaustive efforts, to solve the problem resulting in frustration. Insight often occurs when one turns away from the problem, anecdotal evidence often recounting instances where inspiration arrived in a dream or other altered state when the problem was not the focus of attention.
One of the most famous anecdotes is of the chemist Friedrich Kekulé discovering the structure of the benzene ring while relaxing and gazing into his fireplace.
Creative solutions are often quite tentative at first; They need to be encouraged, evaluated and tested. Whether they will be depends much on the ambient environment the problem solver is operating in. Established, large, rule-bound organizations do not favor innovation, in fact, may punish it. Creativity is more likely to thrive in smaller, startups that encourage innovation.
Genrich Altshuller et al. believed that creative solutions may be examined by scientific methods. After over 200,000 patents analysed, he developed a Theory of Inventive Problem Solving (TIPS, more commonly known as TRIZ). Besides a strong Laws of Technical Systems Evolution he has developed an Algorithm of Inventive Problem Solving, which had become a practical outcome of the theory. The algorithm (known as ARIZ) is a set of steps for problem solving. The ARIZ text includes multiple rules, notes and examples, it is supported by information funds -- Table of contradictions and inventive principles; Set of Standard solutions; Effects (physics, chemistry, geometry, etc.) databases. Special operators help to overcome psychological inertia on the way to solution.
- Daniel Goleman, Paul Kaufman and Michael Ray, The Creative Spirit: Companion to the PBS Television Series, Dutton, 1992, hardcover, 185 pages, ISBN 0-525-93354-9
- Edward de Bono, Lateral Thinking : Creativity Step by Step, Harper & Row, 1973, trade paperback, 300 pages, ISBN 0060903252
- Altshuller, Henry. 1994. The Art of Inventing (And Suddenly the Inventor Appeared). Translated by Lev Shulyak. Worcester, MA: Technical Innovation Center. ISBN 0-9640740-1-X
- The solution of a combinatorial problem
- International Center for Studies in Creativity
- Includes a list of techniques for creative problem solving
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