How to Make Creative Problem Solving Your Next Super Power

What is Creative Problem Solving? definition stages steps and techniques

Creative problem solving is the art of finding multiple solutions to an existing problem, and taking a decision on which one will be most effective. It’s a set of steps that need to be taken every time somebody faces a complex issue. Be it a student, employee or entrepreneur, at work or at home. We all struggle with little problems in daily life, but success and living a good life all come down to how well we cope with them.

If you learn more about creative problem solving, its stages and techniques, and get better at it, you’ll see progress in all areas of life in no time. Let’s define the term first.

What is Creative Problem Solving?

The art of problem solving is related to clearly defining a problem, gathering all the necessary information, analyzing and summarizing it. Then coming up with possible options to solve it, taking other people’s opinion into consideration, and making a decision that’s favorable for anyone involved.

It’s a mental process and you can easily master it over time. Creative problem solving starts with a problem. And ends not just with finding a solution, but also analyzing the outcome. It requires creative thinking, but also following some logical steps and organizing information in your mind. These are the creative problem solving steps. Let’s go through them right now.

The Creative Problem Solving Stages

The problem solving process is a set of steps. You need to follow these if you want to get things right from the beginning, make sure you don’t miss anything important, and come up with an effective solution. Here they are.

1. Define the problem.

zen habits

If you don’t describe the problem clearly enough, you won’t find the best solution for it. So take your time now.

Summarize the big picture first. Then get specific. Try to view this from different angles too, especially if there are other people involved.

Ask yourself some problem solving questions. Make them open-ended so that there are many possible answers. This will help you extract information about the issue more easily. And will become the foundation of the rest of the creative problem solving process.

2. Have a goal in mind.

To help you be focused and do this right, have an end goal and work with it. That gives you purpose and you’re less likely to be distracted by pursuing many outcomes at once.

2. Gather information.

Get your hands on anything you can that’s related to the problem. Don’t think about solving it now. Forget about the other creative problem solving techniques too. This stage is all about doing an extensive research, talking to others, finding details.

3. Analyze the data.

Here’s the time to categorize, prioritize and focus on the possible outcomes that will be most beneficial.

4. List solutions.

For the first draft, write down every possible thing you can think of. Even if some sound impossible, that’s alright. Keep your goal in mind. You’ll make the list shorter in a minute. But now let your creativity flow and use your imagination. It’s creative problem solving, after all.

5. Choose a solution to the problem.

Now’s the time to make a decision. You’ve done what you could to prepare, have all the facts and options to go from here on, so let’s decide and take action.

If you want to make the creative problem solving process as effective as possible, choose a solution that makes everyone in this situation happy. Which meets the goal, won’t require too much time or resources, and also doesn’t have any serious consequences.

In the end, take action and don’t overthink it. But do make sure you analyze the results and even document the journey. This way you’ll get better at creative problem solving and will be better prepared next time.

Techniques to Get Better at Solving Problems Creatively

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Now that you’re familiar with the creative problem solving stages, and will follow each step whenever you face a challenge and are looking for a solution, you can make use of some of the following problem solving techniques.

1. Use tools and templates.

There’s so much free content available online, together with resources to help you get anything done much faster.

Some cool problem solving solutions that you can google, download and put into practice right away are:

Project tracking template – free visual aid to organize your thoughts and steps when starting a new project. You can track goals, time, tasks, priorities, and the progress you see.

Mind map – start with one central idea, find the associated topics, and from there think of all other things related to it. Mind maps is basically a diagram, representing concepts that are linked somehow, and are all related to the main idea written in the centre.

2. Means-ends analysis.

The means-ends analysis aims to help you identify the steps that will lead you in the right direction. It strategically controls the search process of creative problem solving.

3. Hurson’s Productive Thinking Model.

This model is a structured framework consisting of 6 questions to ask yourself to begin the creative problem solving process.

The 6 steps are:

  1. Ask “What is going on?”
  2. Ask “What is success?”
  3. Ask “What is the question?”
  4. Generate answers.
  5. Forge the solution.
  6. Align resources.

4. 5 Why’s.

You might have heard of this one. It’s a problem solving method where you’re literally asking yourself ‘why’ over and over again (for different specific aspects of the problem) until you have clearly defined it. It helps you drill down to identify the underlying cause.

Here’s a video explaining the process:

Hope these creative problem solving techniques, together with learning a bit about the steps of the process, are enough to help you deal easier with anything you face in life from here on.

What are your thoughts on this?

Which one of the stages of creative problem solving would you find most difficult? Why?

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How This Family Guy Makes $10,000/Month Online Teaching Others How to Make, Save and Invest Money

How This Family Guy Makes $10,000/Month Online Teaching Others How to Make, Save and Invest Money - Interview with R.J. Weiss from

This is an interview-style post with R.J. Weiss from The Ways to Wealth.

Hey R.J. What’s your background and what do you do?

I blog about all things personal finance at The Ways to Wealth.

Before I went full-time into blogging, I spent ten years in the financial services industry. Specifically, helping families buy the right type of life insurance.

During my time with a full-time job, I’ve always had different side hustles going on. From freelance writing, Amazon FBA, conversion rate optimization, to website design — there were many projects I pursued outside of work.

How did you start your career in finance?

I got started in finance straight out of college working for my the family insurance business. As I love the financial planning side of things, I choose to specialize in life insurance planning. This led me down the path to obtaining the CFP® Certification.

What made you start blogging?

The Ways to Wealth, which I started in 2016, has been my 5th blog.

The others mostly fizzled out most due to a lack of interest. But, in 2009 I started a personal finance blog called (no longer around) that had some success.

The idea was to write about what I was learning about studying to take the CFP®. The blog was, by all means, a success. I was able to gain valuable knowledge, pass the CFP® exam, earn some extra money and build up a good community.

I then took this knowledge and started a business blog, which allowed the insurance agency I was working for to generate leads.

I started The Ways to Wealth because my passion is personal finance–from investing to travel hacking, I love the challenge of optimizing my finances.

How was The Ways to Wealth born?

I didn’t have much of a plan for starting The Ways to Wealth when I purchased the domain name.

I was actually thinking it would be a niche site, which was inspired by Pat Flynn’s niche site duel. Then, I came across the income reports of Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and wisely changed direction to a more traditional blog.

This change came about 6-months after starting to blog.  I did a timeline of the site in one of my income reports.

What worked best when trying to grow the site?

I had a decent knowledge of SEO. So at first, I started growing the site with email outreach. One of the first posts I had about best investing books of all time, had about 15 links to it.

This was nice to start with but was quite slow to build up, as it can take a while to earn Google’s trust.

The big turning point came when I started to understand Pinterest. I spent a few frustrating weeks on the platform, then it finally started paying dividends.

I went from about 100 sessions a day to 1,000, which was huge for me at the time.

How did you get to 3 million monthly viewers on Pinterest?

the ways to wealth pinterest 3 million monthly views

I lay out my Pinterest strategy here. But at the core the idea is to:

1) Write high-quality content that Pinners want to click through, read, and share.

2) Pin to my own and high-quality group boards, with a keyword-rich description.

3) Continue to Pin my best pins across my own boards/group boards, ruthlessly eliminating Pins that don’t perform well.

One thing to keep in mind is impressions don’t mean much on Pinterest. What counts are clicks to your website. So, you want to design not for impressions but clicks.

What aspects of the online business are you outsourcing or automating and how?

The first thing I outsourced was Pinterest design. I’ll design about 30-40 pins a month, so this was big time saver for me.

Of course, it took some work to get going. At first, I hired 5 or so people on Fiverr. I found one decent designer but the work quality deteriorated over time.

I then went to Upwork and posted a job for a  graphic designer. I found a great team down in Argentina, who I’m very happy with.

I’m currently experimenting with working with a ghostwriter. A few of my latest posts have been transcribed from my recording, with the ghostwriter making sense of it all.

I can compile about 3 posts in 90 minutes, then take another 90 or so minutes to prepare them. Saving me around 3-4 hours per post this way.

What’s your main income stream and why do you think it works for you?

My main source of income for the blog is affiliate revenue. It works because the partners I do have are high-quality businesses, who deliver value and solve real problems. This makes it easy to naturally link to such a partner.

When did you start making more than $10K/month and what was the turning point?

My first month over $10K was in January of 2018. In December of 2017, income was around $3,000 and in July of 2017 around $500. So, it was definitely a jump.

What happened then in January?

First, personal finance is at its peak interest in January.

Second, I had multiple Pins go viral.

Third, in November I started driving traffic via Facebook to the site. So, in January I could take campaigns I’d been fine-tuning for a few weeks and scale them.

How do you balance work and family life?

I have a routine I stick to Monday through Friday.

When inside of my designated working hours, I work. When outside of these hours, I’m not.

This is a lot easier said than done. But the thing important for me is not to take work everywhere I go. This means I don’t have any apps on my phone that are work-related (email, analytics, etc..)

What are you 3 best finance tips for newbies?

  • Focus on your savings rate. How much you save is the most important decision you’ll make.
  • Small incremental improvements add up over time. My favorite example is increasing your savings rate 1% every quarter, means you’ll be saving 20% of your income in just 5 years.
  • Study happiness. Become a student on how to increase your level of happiness. The natural result is you’ll want less overtime, making the game of personal finance a lot easier to win.

What books, blogs or podcasts help you stay motivated along the way of growing an online business?

I read a fair amount to keep fresh ideas in my head.

My favorite podcast is The Tim Ferriss Show.

Two blogs I enjoy reading are:

Farnam Street
Barking up the Wrong Tree

And as far as books. I try to read one a week. A few books I would recommend to online entrepreneurs would be:

Deep Work by Cal Newport
The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy
The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss

Pin this post if you enjoyed the interview.

Check out my interview with R.J. from TheWaystoWealth to see how he entered the finance niche, started making money blogging, began bringing traffic from Pinterest and monetizing it with affiliate marketing, and is now making $10,000/month from his online business. #blogger #interview #blogtraffic #incomeideas #income