How do you employ creative thinking to solve problems?

I have an upcoming blog tour. There are a number of questions which I thought I would address in a post. Creative Thinking and decision making is becoming a hot topic because it affects us all so much.

I feel that solving problems can best be approached by first setting the right context. For me this context is acknowledging that our connection to the great collective unconscious is a two way hook up, and from that bond all novel expressions arise.

The question then is how do you best access this unconscious mind?

The first step is to determine the key or core question surrounding the problem. There are many questions you could be asking but are they the basic question or questions surrounding the core question? A core question is not necessarily that obvious. For example you could be focused upon acquiring some object like a house or car or different job because you think it will further you along a career path and that will make you happier. So the core question might not be how best to obtain the object of your immediate desire, but rather how to best find happiness. Sitting with this first may give you a much better direction.

Therefore my very first step  is  to ask intently and continuously to know the core question regarding any situation, trusting that the answer will appear whether definitively or intuitively; and using that core question as the contextual basis for all investigation to either a next step or a final solution.

The second step is to determine when you are going to start asking this question.  I maintain that you want to start this process in yourself as soon as you can-long before any formal meeting if at all possible.

This sets the contextual stage for the next step. It may even solve the problem. You may then engage with others using rationale analysis, brainstorming, and  other techniques.

For example let us say you are a manager in a company and you have a chronic conflict between two employees to resolve. Your first inclination might be to think, “How can I help patch up a difference between these two people?” If however you ask yourself to know the core question, upon reflection it might be, “ What is the best outcome for all concerned?”  With this question as the basis then a broader stage is set: it not only involves the two employees but the welfare of the company as well. Maybe instead of trying to patch things up it becomes clear in the ensuing process that the best outcome is for one of the people to leave. The loss of that person might cause a certain immediate burden, but his or her replacement could turn out to be a huge improvement and the person leaving may have actually wanted a change but lacked the initiative.

Frequently a problem involves how to create something new which is going to involve brainstorming with others. In this case when you do meet, your unconscious mind has already been long at work. Then you are prepared as a participant for either a solution or the very next step as a member of the team.

Some of the greatest minds, in the constant pursuit of creative thinking  have, lived their life in a perpetual question, such as “Is the contemplated action supporting my highest and best purpose?”

I would love to hear your comments on the topic.

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  1. rick says:

    I practice law. There is plenty of room for creative thinking there. I also dance. Improvisational dance. There is plenty of room for creative there, but none for thinking. I have a method I use in both cases, not really unlike yours:

    A client comes with a problem (it is almost always a problem). I listen, ask questions often to be sure I am hearing correctly. I examine all documents, and I talk to everyone else involved, on the phone or in person. I am just collecting data, not only my client’s data, but everyone else’s data too. Soon the real problem emerges, or what I think it is, the problem under the problem. Then if I can’t solve it, I stop. No more data, no more thinking.

    My rule with my linear mind at this time is this: I will entertain breakthroughs, but I willl not think. You see, I have already thought. Now I need the creative urge to ignite me, to whisper over my left shoulder, or just to fill my consciousness with the the larger picture in which the problem takes place and thus to know what to do about it.

    At least in my own way of relating to my inner resources, when I have turned the issue over to my inner muse, It is out of my hands (and most especially out of my thinking mind). I am ready for insight, and waiting. It usually arrives in my sleep or when I’m not looking.

    I love thought and have thought my way to many fine conclusions. But I have never thought my way to an insight, never to personal transformation. That I must turn over to someone in me, a level of my own being who hides behind my thoughts.

    It was never very easy for me to not-think. Among the methods I have used through my life to at least regulate it, I now dance. This dance is improvisational; there may be a theme, but the choreography is mine. I may have heard the music before, but often not. The best of this for me is when my body moves to the music, anticipates it in its movements, and my mind is entirely still. I am stunned at how my body hears music, knows it ahead of time enough to be ready always for what comes next. A single thought would interfere. There is some thing magical about it. Any athlete, any mover of the body, knows that the mind must be trained to be so focused on what is going on that it is entirely present, not thinking, not distracting. This singularity is awesome, a source of real satisfaction; I love dancing there. My sons ride in big waves. I can’t do that, but I know that feeling, that utter presence. The mind is there with you, as empty as a Zen monk’s.

    That’s my input on my way of messing around with my creativity. I have learned over the years that my creativity is not under my conscious control, is feminine, and is quiet. I don’t order her around, and if I want something from her, I do ask respectfully, and then I await her pleasure.

    It works for me. Wrote this.

    Thanks. Rick

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