Creative problem solving in project management

by Elise Stevens | Futureproof Your Career Podcast

The best idea usually doesn’t belong to the loudest voice in the room – so why should they be the only one who gets heard?

Whether they’re the boss, the boss’s son, or just a bit of a loudmouth, too often decisions within organisations are made by the same few people and everyone else is simply expected to fall in line.

In this podcast, Elise Stevens speaks to Teresa Lawrence about why that kind of decision-making rarely leads to the best solutions. Teresa is a consultant and coach on creative problem solving in project management. She teaches project managers and their teams how to find novel and useful solutions to the most challenging problems by fostering an open and inclusive culture.

Points raised in this podcast:

  • Creative problem solving is about finding new and innovative ways to solve problems. It involves increasing tolerance for ambiguity and complexity and being open to novelty.
  • Project managers often believe they’re too busy to take an innovative approach to problem solving and rely on old solutions.
  • The first step to creative problem solving is to clarify what the problem actually is and ensure you’re solving the real one.
  • In creative problem solving, the ideas are more important than who came up with them. Project managers should focus on which ideas are the most novel, haven’t been tried before and are likely to have the greatest impact.
  • Creative problem solving is inclusive, not hierarchical. All team members should feel like they were able to weigh in and be part of the decision-making process and that the ideas raised were ample.
  • Ideas should be judged at face value and developed. This means the team member will be validated rather than shut down. When concerns are raised, the team can then consider how they can be overcome.
  • Creative problem solving requires a balance between divergent and convergent thinking. Divergent thinking explores multiple possible solutions, while convergent thinking focuses on figuring out the most effective solution.

About Teresa Lawrence:

Teresa Lawrence is the industry leader in integrating Creative Problem Solving and Project Management. She consults, coaches, trains and develops the skillset, toolset and mindset of problem solving in project leaders to better address the unexpected, complex and ambiguous problems they encounter in their work. She’s trained more than 45,000 people since 2017.

She is the president of International Deliverables, an NYS certified Women Business Enterprise (WBE) and a 2019 Small Business Administration Home-Based Business award recipient. In 2016, Teresa was identified by Buffalo Business First as a WNY Woman of Influence and a Distinguished Alumni of the University of Buffalo Graduate School of Education.

Read more about Creative Problem Solving in Creative Leadership, Skills That Drive Change by Gerard J. Puccio. You can connect with Teresa on LinkedIn.