Updated: May 13
If you are problem solving the same way repeatedly, you're likely coming up with the same solutions each time. And you're not alone. Habits are hard to break and if a process has worked for you in the past, why would you try something different? This is valid, I wouldn't ask an accountant to try a new method for quarterly reports.
The time to try something new is when you need an original idea, an innovation, an injection of energetic thinking into a long term problem. Creative people think like this. All. The. Time. They are gifted in looking at a problem from more than one direction and often re-defining the problem. But that doesn't mean creative thinking can't be learned or that you must be born with this magical ability. If I can learn algebra, then an accountant can learn to think different (credit: Apple, Inc.).
Why should you master creative problem solving? Because you'll be better at your job. You'll get better outcomes. You'll be invited in at a strategic level. You'll become indispensable because a computer can't think like you. And because problem solving will be fun and exciting instead of stressful and scary. All of this will improve your self-confidence and your career and give you courage to tackle bigger challenges.
The WHAT and the WHY
Here's an exercise that you could try to get to a whole new level of problem solving. Start a column with the "WHAT." This side should include things like What You Know, What You're Good At, What Resources are Available in regard to the problem you want to solve. Next to that column, start a WHY IT MATTERS" column. The WHYs should correspond to the WHATs.
I used this method to consider new blog topics that are relevant, here's what that looks like.
This article was originally titled "Creative Problem Solving" which is pretty clear but not particularly compelling. It wasn't until I got to the "Why it Matters" that I found clarity and a better title. I knew instinctively that creative problem solving skills is valuable but the WHAT/WHY chart helped me define it for you.
Be deliberate about problem solving and you're already half way there.