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Workshop 17: Creative Problem-Solving Incubator

Welcome to our Organisational Excellence Workshop Series. This series seeks to provide a launch pad for building professional skills and organisational success. Each workshop provides a jumping-off point for a different theme, exploring innovative strategies and practical exercises to enhance work and team dynamics. See more in the series here:
The objective of this workshop is to engage participants in tackling real-world problems using innovative thinking and creativity.
Full-Day Workshop (8 hours)
Materials Needed:
    • Materials for brainstorming and prototyping (e.g. whiteboards, markers, paper, crafting supplies).
    • Templates or guides for action plans and implementation strategies.
    • Handouts on creative problem-solving techniques.
    • Feedback forms.
Facilitator's Note:
    • Encourage a positive, collaborative environment where all ideas are valued.
    • Be prepared to guide participants through each phase of the creative problem-solving process.
    • Focus on real-world applicability to ensure that participants can apply the learned skills in their professional environments.

1. Creative Mindset Warm-Up

A series of quick, fun exercises designed to stimulate creative thinking.
Desired Outcome:
To break conventional thinking patterns and prepare participants for innovative problem-solving. This activity is designed to challenge traditional thinking, fostering a mindset conducive to innovative problem-solving.
    1. Conduct quick, imaginative exercises (e.g., word association games, lateral thinking puzzles).
    2. Encourage rapid responses to stimulate spontaneous thinking.
    3. Discuss the importance of a creative mindset in problem-solving.
Potential Challenges:
Hesitation or self-consciousness among participants. To help overcome this, foster a playful, non-judgmental atmosphere.

2. Defining the Problem

Identifying and clearly defining a real-world problem that participants will work on solving.
Desired Outcome:
To ensure a shared understanding of the problem and its complexities. This activity focuses on clearly defining the problem, a crucial first step in the creative problem-solving process.
    1. Present a real-world problem or let participants choose one.
    2. Discuss and refine the problem statement to ensure clarity and focus.
    3. Break down the problem into smaller, manageable components.
Potential Challenges:
Overgeneralisation or oversimplification of the problem. To help overcome this, guide the group to consider different aspects and impacts of the problem.

3. Idea Generation Session

A brainstorming session where participants generate a wide range of solutions without judgment or criticism.
Desired Outcome:
To produce a diverse set of potential solutions to the defined problem. This activity fosters divergent thinking, essential for generating creative solutions.
    1. Facilitate a brainstorming session, encouraging wild, out-of-the-box ideas.
    2. Use techniques like mind mapping or SCAMPER to stimulate creativity.
    3. Capture all ideas without evaluation at this stage.
Potential Challenges:
Participants may self-censor or criticise ideas too early. To help overcome this, emphasise the importance of quantity over quality of ideas in this phase.

4. Solution Refinement Workshop

Refining and developing the most promising ideas generated in the brainstorming session.
Desired Outcome:
To develop viable, innovative solutions to the problem. This activity moves from broad idea generation to focusing creativity on practical, actionable solutions.
    1. Review the generated ideas and select the most promising ones.
    2. In small groups, develop these ideas into more detailed solutions.
    3. Present the refined solutions and receive feedback.
Potential Challenges:
Attachment to certain ideas or difficulty in making decisions. To help overcome this, encourage an objective, collaborative approach.

5. Prototyping & Testing

Creating simple prototypes or plans for how these solutions could be implemented and tested.
Desired Outcome:
To turn abstract ideas into tangible, testable concepts. This activity emphasises prototyping as a key step in evaluating solution feasibility and effectiveness.
    1. Guide groups to create simple prototypes or detailed plans for their solutions.
    2. Discuss what success looks like and how it can be measured.
    3. Share prototypes and plans for group critique and improvement.
Potential Challenges:
Limited resources or skills for prototyping. To help overcome this, focus on low-fidelity prototypes that require minimal resources.

6. Implementation Strategy

Developing a strategy for how these solutions can be implemented in a real-world context.
Desired Outcome:
To create a realistic and actionable plan for bringing the solution to life. This activity encourages translating creative solutions into practical reality.
    1. Identify resources, stakeholders, and steps required to implement the solution.
    2. Create a timeline and action plan for implementation.
    3. Discuss potential challenges and how they can be overcome.
Potential Challenges:
Overlooking practical constraints or challenges. To help overcome this, remind participants to consider feasibility and resource availability.

7. Workshop Debrief & Feedback Session

Gathering participant feedback and summarising key workshop learnings.
Desired Outcome:
To reinforce key concepts and gather insights for continuous improvement. This activity helps to ensure understanding of the workshop content and provides insights for enhancing future workshops.
    1. Open discussion for participants to share their thoughts on the workshop.
    2. Summarise key concepts and learnings.
    3. Collect written feedback for future workshop enhancements.
Potential Challenges:
Limited participant engagement. To help overcome this, encourage honest and open feedback, stressing its importance.

Thank you for joining us in this edition of the 'Organisational Excellence Workshop Series'. We hope the insights and strategies from the Creative Problem-Solving Incubator workshop have inspired you and provided a valuable tool to kick-start and customise your own workshop. Remember, each workshop in this series is a step towards enhancing and enriching your organisational culture. Stay tuned for our next edition, where we will explore another vital aspect of professional development, continuing our journey of learning and growth. Until then, we encourage you to implement what you've learned and share your experiences with your peers.
Trevor O'Sullivan

Trevor O'Sullivan

General Manager. Since the early 2000s, Trevor has worked with thousands of Talent Management professionals to develop and apply assessment-based talent management solutions for selecting, developing and managing people. Trevor is an active member of the TTI Success Insights (TTISI) Global Advisory Council, contributes to TTISI product development and is a regular presenter at TTISI-R3. He is honoured to have received multiple Blue Diamond Awards and, more recently, the Bill Brooks Impact Award recognising his contributions to the TTISI global network.

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